Peugeot has been the dominant team in the Le Mans Series this year, the French works team having won every race in the series so far. However, the team was surely smarting from their loss to Audi at the 24H classic at La Sarthe last month, and...
Peugeot has been the dominant team in the Le Mans Series this year, the French works team having won every race in the series so far. However, the team was surely smarting from their loss to Audi at the 24H classic at La Sarthe last month, and they made no mistake in taking a 1-2 victory at the 1000 km of Nurburgring today.
The #8 car of Pedro Lamy and Stephane Sarrazin started the race second in the #8 Peugeot 908 HDi, behind their teammates -- Marc Gene and Nicolas Minassian -- in the #7 car. Sarrazin and Minassian circulated in formation at the head of the field through the first set of pit stops, pulling out a steady lead on the rest of the field. Sarrazin came into the pits first, taking on fuel and a fresh set of tires, ready to attack for the lead.
"At the start of the race, I was a little faster than Nicolas on soft tyres and we decided to pit before him," Sarrazin recounted the early-race events. "I pushed hard and was able to pass him before my second stop."
Misfortune hit the #8 at that point; still running in second place, Minassian had to make an unplanned pit stop to top up the oil level, and then subsequently was called in for a stop-and-go penalty for passing lapped traffic under the yellow flag, allowing Jean-Marc Gounon and Guillaume Moreau to move into second place in their works Courage LC70 AER.
After Lamy and Gene took over the driving duties at the next pit stop, the #8 stretched out the lead further, while Gene retook second place from Gounon. Lamy, too, was called for passing under the yellow flags, but his lead was wide enough for the penalty to be a non-issue.
"Apart from a stop and go for overtaking under yellow flags which I didn't see, it was a trouble-free race for me," the Spaniard summed up his afternoon. And indeed it was, with the #8 taking the victory over its sister car by a one-lap margin.
Pescarolo Sport was there at the finish, again, the French team showing speed and reliability as one has come to expect from them, but they were not quite able to keep up with the Peugeot works turbodiesels. Further delayed by a long pitstop midway throguh the race, Emmanuel Collard and Jean-Christophe Bouillon were four laps adrift of the winners at the finish.
The Czech Charouz team stole fourth place just a lap from the finish when the 19-year-old Jan Charouz passed the works Creation Ausportif car, and then held on to finish 0.719 seconds ahead of the French car. The result capped a strong weekend for the team, which had seen its third-place qualifying result nullified due to a poor airbox seal, forcing the trio of Charouz, Stefan Mycke and Alex Yoong to start from the back of the 50-car grid.
In the LM P2 class, RML took their first class victory of the season, as Mike Newton and Tommy Erdos turned a class pole position into a convincing victory. Their MG Lola EX264 AER did not put a foot wrong in the six hours of the race, and did not need any unscheduled work in the pits, enabling Newton and Erdos to finish a lap clear in the class lead -- and only a minute adrift of the fifth-overall Creation Judd.
Juan Barazi, Michael Vergers and Karim Ojjeh finished second in class in their Barazi Epsilon Zytek 07-S, 74 seconds ahead of Miguel Amaral, Miguel de Castro and Angel Burgeno in Quifel ASM Team's Lola B05/40 AER.
Stefane Ortelli and Soheil Ayari had taken the pole position in the "heavy iron" LM GT1 class, and looked to be running away in the early race, with a one-minute lead over Team Modena's Aston Martin DBR9 by the two-hour mark.
However, a loose wheel a little bit before the midway point of the race nearly cost them the race, losing nearly a lap while limping back to the pits. However, Ayari drove like a man possessed once repairs had been effected, passing the Aston Martin early inthe fourth hour, and securing a comfortable one-lap victory for the team.
Christian Fittipaldi and Antonio Garcia had to settle for second in class for Team Modena, then, and even that wasn't an easy task as the Alphand Aventures Corvette C6.R (Luc Alphand, Jerome Policand and Patrice Goueslard) was less than 20 seconds behind after six hours of racing -- and AMR Larbre's DBR9 (Christophe Bouchut, Gabriele Gardel and Fabrizio Collin) nearly nipped the Corvette to the finish for the final class podium position, the pair separated at the finish by just 22 thousandths of a second.
Meanwhile, Allan Simonsen and Rob Bell followed up their class pole with a victory in LM GT2 in the Virgo Motorsport Ferrari F430. Already 30 seconds ahead of their competitors by the end of the second hour, the duo simply drove off into the distance, outpacing the rest of the LM GT2 class by a comfortable 90-second margin.
Behind them, too, Marc Lieb and Xavier Pompidou were clearly second-best in their Porsche 997 GT3 RSR, neither able to challenge for the class lead nor threatened by others, and took second place for Felbrmayer-Proton by a comfortable 45-second margin over Farnbacher Racing's GT3 RS (Dirck Werner, Pierre Ehret and Lars Erik Nielsen).
The Le Mans Series will now take a six-week summer break, and continue with another six-hour race at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium in August.