Villeneuve leads, drama unfolds at Spa

Jacques Villeneuve in the No. 7 Team Peugeot Total 908 HDi-FAP leads the way at Spa-Francorchamps, but drama has unfolded for two of the contending LM P1 diesel entries. The second safety car period of the 1000-km race has come out with 58 laps ...

Jacques Villeneuve in the No. 7 Team Peugeot Total 908 HDi-FAP leads the way at Spa-Francorchamps, but drama has unfolded for two of the contending LM P1 diesel entries. The second safety car period of the 1000-km race has come out with 58 laps complete following an accident by the No. 8 Peugeot of Alexander Wurz. Dindo Capello in the second-placed No. 1 Audi Sport Team Joest R10 TDI has also suffered misfortunes, with the car now in the garage for repairs.

Pedro Lamy led the opening laps aboard the No. 8 Peugeot, with Allan McNish in a close second and Nicolas Minassian in the No. 7 Peugeot running third. The face of the race was turned upside down shortly after the first hour when McNish and Minassian made contact, resulting in a puncture for the No. 1 Audi. This put the Audi off sequence in pit stops.

However, the first full-course caution came out with 46 laps complete, just shy of the two-hour mark, for the stationary No. 45 Embassy Racing WF01. Both Peugeots had previously pitted a few laps earlier, but McNish and Rockenfeller elected to come in for service under the yellow. This put Villeneuve, who was now in the No. 7 Peugeot, into the lead.

Capello, after taking over the controls from McNish, now ran in second, with Wurz in third when the green came out on lap 51. But Wurz's day would come to an abrupt end just a few moments later. While navigating through GT2 traffic, contact was made between a Spyker sending Wurz hard into the tire barriers and also collecting Capello.

"I was catching up after the safety car and Dindo Capello was slowed down by a car," Wurz explained. "I was going next to him, and I turned into Turn 14. It was a slower GT2 car that touched me on my right rear. That spun me, and hit me into Capello. It was a misfortunate moment after such a nice day. It was not an aggression of the fight. It was just a moment of no space."

The safety car was deployed for the second time of the race for this incident, just as Capello brought his Audi to a stop in the pits with right rear damage. The team wheeled the car straight to the garage for repairs. Wurz's Peugeot, meanwhile, suffered extensive damage to the rear and was done for the day.

The drama in LM P1 promoted Alexandre Premat in the No. 2 Audi to second overall, ahead of the stationary No. 1 machine of Capello in third. Team Oreca Matmut's Olivier Panis runs in fourth, best of the gasoline-fueled prototypes.

In LM P2, the Horag Racing Porsche RS Spyder of Didier Theys leads, taking over the top spot from the Van Merksteijn Motorsport Porsche, which now runs in third. Team owner Peter van Merksteijn took over from race starter Jos Verstappen, who led the opening laps. But the Dutch team made an extra pit stop under the yellow for a splash of fuel, giving Theys the lead.

A third contender has been in the mix all race as well, as the Speedy Racing Team Sebah Lola B08/80 Judd of Steve Zacchia runs in a solid second. The Lola Coupe has been in contention since the green flag, clicking off impressive laps early on with Xavier Pompidou behind the wheel.

Patrice Goueslard leads LM GT1, aboard the No. 72 Luc Alphand Aventures Corvette C6.R. His co-driver Guillaume Moreau had a great early scrap with Antonio Garcia, before the Team Modena Aston Martin DBR9 was forced to make an additional stop, dropping it back to third. The IPB Spartak Racing Lamborghini runs second in class.

In LM GT2, the Virgo Motorsport Ferrari F430 GT of Rob Bell and Gianmaria Bruni led from the start, but Alex Davison in the No. 77 Team Felbermayr-Proton Porsche 997 GT3 RSR has now taken control of the top spot, ahead of the yellow Ferrari and the No. 91 Fanbacher Racing Porsche.

With two hours and 30 minutes complete, there's still plenty of racing left around the historic Belgian circuit. Stay tuned for more race updates.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series European Le Mans
Drivers Olivier Panis , Jacques Villeneuve , Antonio Garcia , Allan McNish , Didier Theys , Nicolas Minassian , Alexander Wurz , Pedro Lamy , Rob Bell , Luc Alphand , Patrice Goueslard , Xavier Pompidou , Alex Davison , Alexandre Prémat , Peter van Merksteijn , Steve Zacchia , Guillaume Moreau , Dindo Capello