Nurburgring: Series race report

Peugeot maintains record with victory in Germany A perfect race in perfect conditions saw Peugeot score a 1-2 finish at the fourth race in the 2008 Le Mans Series at the Nurburgring. In front of 22,000 spectators, Stephane Sarrazin and Pedro...

Peugeot maintains record with victory in Germany

A perfect race in perfect conditions saw Peugeot score a 1-2 finish at the fourth race in the 2008 Le Mans Series at the Nurburgring. In front of 22,000 spectators, Stephane Sarrazin and Pedro Lamy led home their team-mates Marc Gene and Nicolas Minassian, the two diesel-powered prototypes crossing the line 16 seconds apart after 1000kms. The race was completed in five hours, 44 minutes at an average speed of 174km/h (108 mph) around the 5.137km circuit.

Jos Verstappen won the "LM" P2 drivers' title in the van Merksteijn Porsche RS Spyder team, which cannot be caught in the teams' title. The Dutchman, sharing with Jeroen Bleekemolen, scored his third win of the year. The Team Essex Porsche RS Spyder took third place after a spin and a puncture, and an attempt to make up lost time saw John Nielsen attempt unsuccessfully to double stint his Dunlop tyres.

The Team Modena Aston Martin team won the "LM" GT1 class with Tomas Enge and Antonio Garcia, and close to within ten points of the Luc Alphand Aventures Corvette which recovered to take second place in class following an accident with a prototype mid-race. In "LM" GT2, the Virgo Motorsport team had a perfect race. They started from the pit lane after a fire badly damaged the car on Friday, and the team could not set a qualifying time. However, they drove through the field at a scintillating pace, and won the race by two laps from the Team Felbermayr Porsche of Marc Lieb and Alex Davison who struggled for grip.

Perfect Peugeot in "LM" P1

The two 5.5 litre, V12-powered Peugeots battled each other for the race win and ultimately the pace of Stephane Sarrazin and Pedro Lamy proved too much for their team-mates Nicolas Minassian and Marc Gene who move into a two-point lead in the drivers' title. For Peugeot, the target is the teams' title and so the 1-2 finish was a perfect result.

The Peugeots started from the front row of the grid and immediately powered ahead at the start. The two diesel-powered Audis ran in fourth and fifth positions behind the Aston Martin-powered Lola of the Charouz Racing Systems team which had started the race brilliantly, holding off determined challenges from Alexandre Premat and Rinaldo Capello. Germany's Stefan Mucke split the diesel manufacturers for four laps before Premat found a way past, and Capello followed him through before the race was an hour old.

However the Audi R10 TDIs could not mount a challenge to the Peugeots and they concentrated on consolidating their positions in third and fourth and scoring valuable points towards the drivers' title.

The Charouz Racing Systems team ran strongly to fifth position overall after recovering from a broken wheel following contact with another car, and being hit from behind with yellow flags flying for a stricken car. It was the car's best finish in a Le Mans Series race since Barcelona in April. In sixth place overall was the Team ORECA Matmut Courage-ORECA of Stephane Ortelli, Soheil Ayari and Loic Duval. They got the race off to a bad start when Ayari spun on the warm up lap, and Duval also had a minor spin. The sister car of Olivier Panis and Nicolas Lapierre had a gear selection problem which meant that the car retired. The ORECA car would not have been classified anyway pending an appeal to a German court against Panis's exclusion from the race for reversing up the track and into the pit lane during qualifying.

The British Creation team was delighted to reach the finish with both of its AIM-powered prototypes, Jamie Campbell-Walter returning to the cockpit since breaking four vertebra in his back at Monza in April. The British driver admitted that he was stiff after driving half the race, but was pleased to return to action.

The Pescarolo team did not have such a successful race. Christophe Tinseau suffered gear selection problems in the first half of the race, and Jean-Christophe Boullion was hit by another car, breaking a wheel and causing a puncture. He later crashed out when his rear diffuser came loose, denying him downforce.

The Epsilon Euskadi team also had a troubled race, Miguel de Castro and Angel Burgueno finishing 12th after starter motor and alternator problems during the race which cost 20 laps.

Verstappen wins "LM" P2 title

With a fine race Dutchman Jos Verstappen has effectively won the drivers' title after winning his third race this season. This win, following victories at Barcelona and Spa ahead of Le Mans, was scored with Jeroen Bleekemolen as car owner Peter van Merksteijn was competing in another event. With three wins from four races, and a second place at Monza, the former Grand Prix driver can now not be overtaken in the standings.

It was a competitive race, but the battle was mainly for second position after the Team Essex Porsche spun into the gravel with Casper Elgaard driving. The team challenged for the lead early on, but the spin lost them time. Elgaard, and John Nielsen, attempted to make up time by double stinting its Dunlop tyres, but the gamble did not pay off. Not only did Nielsen not have the grip he wanted, but he also had a brake problem. They finished third behind the Saulnier Racing Pescarolo of Pierre Ragues and Matthieu Lahaye which had a clear run.

The third Porsche RS Spyder of Jan Lammers, Fredy Lienhard and Didier Theys was on target for second place when it had fluid leaking into the pedal box, forcing a long stop in the final hour.

The Embassy Racing team brought two cars to the finish for the first time this season, Darren Manning and Joey Foster finishing fourth despite losing time with a slow puncture. The sister car of Jonny Kane and Warren Hughes had an electrical problem which caused a misfire. The Speedy Racing team was also in the hunt for second place before it, too, suffered an electrical glitch which caused a problem with the gear changes.

Modena still in hunt for "LM" GT1 title

Tomas Enge and Antonio Garcia faced a tough fight from the Luc Alphand Aventures Corvette team, but ultimately they were comfortable winners in the class as their Aston Martin DBR9 was the only car in the class to have a reliable and trouble free race.

The Corvette team suffered a double blow in the second hour when Jerome Policand and Olivier Beretta experienced a fuel leak in the pit lane. The team took the car into the garage, but could not fix the problem and the car was retired.

The second Corvette, driven by Luc Alphand, Guillaume Moreau and Patrice Goueslard was then hit by a prototype which badly damaged the rear suspension. The team completed long repairs and returned the car to the track to reach the 70 per cent distance and scored points.

They looked set to take third place in class having covered the required distance, before the IPB Spartak Lamborghini stopped out on track with a lack of drive in the fifth hour while running second. It was desperately unlucky for the team which until then had a perfect race with Peter Kox and Roman Rusinov.

"The engine was still working, and the driver could still move through the gearbox, but there was no drive," said a disappointed team owner Hans Reiter.

With eight points for second place, the Luc Alphand team move ten points clear of the Team Modena Aston Martin with one race remaining. They need to score just one point in Britain to be assured of the title. The Lamborghini team has had some excellent results this season, finishing third in Barcelona and second in Spa, but the non finish in Germany has proven to be costly and they cannot now win the title.

Brilliant Bruni and Bell win "LM" GT2

For a time on Friday afternoon it looked as though the Virgo Motorsport Ferrari team would not compete in the Nurburgring 1000kms following an engine bay fire in second practice. However, the British team worked hard and readied the car for warm-up, and Rob Bell, with Gimmi Bruni, raced to an amazing two lap win after a brilliant race.

The two drivers were able to lap below two minutes for much of the race before they put their competitors a lap down, and they were able to ease off to conserve fuel in the final stages of the race.

The Felbermayr Porsche team of Alex Davison and Marc Lieb finished second, two laps down on the winners after struggling for grip from their Michelin tyres. They could only hold off their Porsche colleagues Raymond Narac and Richard Lietz in the IMSA Performance Matmut team, who had the same grip level problem. The two Porsches finished just 57 seconds apart at the end of the race after mechanically sound races.

Ben Aucott and Stephane Daoudi finished fourth in class, something of a habit for Aucott who has finished fourth at Le Mans two years in succession, and was also fourth overall at the Spa 24 hours at the beginning of August!

The Farnbacher Racing team had a race to forget having qualified on pole position in the class with the team's Ferrari 430 GT. Pierre Kaffer spun into the gravel as Jerome Policand's crippled Corvette got in his way at the chicane and the team's Porsche retired with a drive train problem. Australian-domiciled Dane Allan Simonsen had a broken wheel after a collision with a Spyker which had lost them time.

-credit: lemans-series.com

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About this article
Series European Le Mans
Drivers Jan Lammers , Jos Verstappen , Olivier Panis , Tomas Enge , Antonio Garcia , Rinaldo Capello , Joey Foster , Didier Theys , Nicolas Minassian , Marc Gene , Stéphane Sarrazin , Pedro Lamy , Christophe Tinseau , Fredy Lienhard , Stéphane Ortelli , Rob Bell , Peter Kox , Jamie Campbell-Walter , Jean-Christophe Boullion , Jonny Kane , Warren Hughes , Luc Alphand , Patrice Goueslard , John Nielsen , Marc Lieb , Jérome Policand , Jeroen Bleekemolen , Soheil Ayari , Alex Davison , Nicolas Lapierre , Alexandre Prémat , Peter van Merksteijn , Roman Rusinov , Casper Elgaard , Stefan Mücke , Raymond Narac , Pierre Ragues , Loic Duval , Angel Burgueño , Matthieu Lahaye , Guillaume Moreau , Richard Lietz , Ben Aucott
Teams IMSA Performance Matmut , Team Felbermayr