Spa: Michelin race report

A second win for Pescarolo and Michelin Despite starting from the pit-lane*, the Pescarolo-Michelin of Emmanuel Collard and Jean-Christophe Boullion went on to conclude a drama-packed weekend in Belgium with its second success of...

A second win for Pescarolo and Michelin

Despite starting from the pit-lane*, the Pescarolo-Michelin of Emmanuel Collard and Jean-Christophe Boullion went on to conclude a drama-packed weekend in Belgium with its second success of the 2006 Le Mans Series. Second place for the Courage-Michelin of Primat/Fassler and third for the Zytek-Michelin of Nielsen/Elgaard/Andersen made it an all-Michelin podium at Spa.

With free practice run in a mixture of bright sunshine, showers and heavy rain, a drying track for qualifying, overcast conditions for the start and bright sunshine again for the finish, the weather played a major role in the outcome of this year's 1,000km of Spa and enabled Michelin to evaluate its full range of endurance tyres!

Following a tangle involving four cars just seconds after the start, the race only got underway in earnest an hour later. The first car to lead was the Courage-Michelin of Primat/Fasseler who qualified on pole position thanks to a judicious choice of hard compound rain tyres. But the Swiss Spirit pair was unable to ward off the Courage-Mugen of Gounon/Frei which profited from the opening lap to ease into the lead. Forty minutes into the race, however, Jean-Christophe Boullion was sitting on the Courage's tail before passing in front on Lap 45 after two stints on soft compound tyres. Following the incident at the start, my tyres were cold to begin with and the first three laps were a little tricky. But once my tyres were up to temperature, they were consistent and gave me excellent grip throughout both stints. It was a very good choice," enthused Jean-Christophe Boullion after handing over to Emmanuel Collard who covered two further stints on soft rubber.

When the Courage-Mugen was sidelined with an electrical problem, the Chamberlain Lola B05/40 followed in second spot for a while before being passed in turn by the Courage-Michelin of Fassler/Primat and the Zytek- Michelin of Nielsen/Elgaard/Andersen (who were slowed by gearbox problems) towards the end of the race. The final result enabled Michelin to monopolise the podium with its three LMP1 Category partners, while the Lola- Michelin of Newton/Erdos finished 2nd in LMP2 ahead of the Binnie Motorsports Lola-Michelin of Binnie/Timpany/Hankock.

The LMGT1 category provided a thrilling dice between the Aston Martin-Michelin of Garcia/Lyons and the Saleen- Michelin of Ortelli/Ayari, not only on the track but also in the pits and two refuelling stops produced leader changes. In the end, victory went to the Oreca Saleen S7R which was making its 2006 Le Mans Series debut in Belgium. We went for a strategy based on soft tyres because we thought the weather might change. But thanks to the car's excellent set-up and balance, we were able to cover two stints with the same tyres," beamed Stephane Ortelli at the finish.

(*) decision of the stewards following a tangle with the Aston Martin of Lamy/Gardel/Vosse during free practice.

Matthieu Bonardel (Michelin's Circuit Racing Activities Manager): The relatively cool conditions during the race meant some of our partner teams were able to double stint on soft slicks, including the Pescarolo and the Saleen which won the LMP1 and LMGT1 categories respectively. The option proved decisive for the Saleen in its fight against the N61 Aston Martin-Michelin which was also on soft tyres but preferred a one-stint strategy because it is more demanding on its tyres. We were delighted to see that our products were competitive in all the types of conditions encountered during the weekend and our partner cars were also reliable. That's a very encouraging sign for the Le Mans 24 Hours."

-michelin-

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Series ELMS