Johansson And LemariÃ© Pronounce Victory "Most Pleasing" Most, Czech Republic, Sunday 5th August 2001: Stefan Johansson's Gulf Audi team played it safe to take its long awaited maiden victory at Most in the Czech Republic. A 31,000-strong crowd...
Johansson And Lemarié Pronounce Victory "Most Pleasing"
Most, Czech Republic, Sunday 5th August 2001: Stefan Johansson's Gulf Audi team played it safe to take its long awaited maiden victory at Most in the Czech Republic. A 31,000-strong crowd turned out to watch Johansson and BAR Formula 1 test driver Patrick Lemarié drive a consistent and unflappable race, stretching away from the Lanesra Panoz LMP Roadster S of local stars Tomas Enge and Jaroslav Janis to win by 6 laps. It was Lemarié's first sportscar victory and Johansson's first since 1997.
"It was my first race start in a long time, so I was very nervous," said Lemarié. "Tomas was quick at the beginning of the race and putting pressure on me but I knew we had the better car."
The team was leaving nothing to chance after bad luck robbed them of victory at Jarama and Estoril - they were carrying a lucky horseshoe.
"John Wyer, who ran the old Gulf Mirages, used to have a lucky horseshoe so we brought one too," explained Johansson. "We thought that after the last two races we needed all the luck we could get, and it was another good way of carrying on the Gulf tradition. It's very pleasing to have broken our duck and won our first race."
Johansson's team turned around the Gulf-liveried R8 over twenty seconds faster than the Panoz during the first round of pitstops, handing the Swede a healthy lead which he didn't have to push hard to defend. The Panoz lost four laps - and second position - when a broken diffuser forced it into the pits for repairs while Formula 3000 front-runner Enge was at the wheel. Johansson and the Gulf squad now have an unassailable lead in the LMP900 drivers' and teams points standings.
The ROC team, LMP675 class winners at Le Mans this year, took second place overall in the first ELMS race since the Nurburgring in 2000. Jordi Gene and Christophe Pillon ran an untroubled third in the Reynard 01Q-VW for much of the race before inheriting second when the Panoz made its long stop. And Gene did not intend to let them have it back.
"When I saw the Panoz had a long stop," he said, "we were in second place so the team told me to push hard to keep the position. I'd like to thank all the other drivers for making room for me as I passed them, because I was taking a lot of risks."
Bruno Lambert and Ian McKellar Jr dominated the GTS class in the RML Saleen S7-R, narrowly missing out on the overall podium. The thunderous US muscle car easily fended off the challenge of the Konrad Porsche 911 GT2 of Charlie Slater and Maciej Stanco.
"It was a pretty quiet race for us," said Lambert. "We had the car well set-up but this morning we had a scare with the water pump. We were hoping for an overall podium like we did in Estoril but the guys in front did a good job and stayed on the track . I'm glad that so many people turned out to watch the race."
"We've been let down by the engine a couple of times this year so it's good to have a race like this where everything goes to plan," said McKellar. "Now we want to have a lot more GTS cars to race against and beat."
Another team celebrating a maiden ELMS victory was PK Sport/Ricardo. Robin Liddell and Mike Youles came out on top of a four-car battle for GT class honours. Youles had a slow start and flat-spotted a tyre, forcing him to pit 20 minutes before the other runners, but Liddell charged back into contention on fresh tyres.
"All the hard work we've done has come to fruition so it's all been very pleasing," said Liddell. "We've had a wonderful time in the Czech Republic and particularly at Most, and I know the ELMS organisers have been very happy with the way the weekend has gone. I hope we'll be back next year."
Geoff Lister actually led for much of the first hour in the Harlow Porsche 911 GT3-R he was sharing with Terry Rymer, although their challenge came to nought after Rymer collided with the second PK/Sport car driven by Piers Masarati. The former motorcycle world endurance champion set some of the fastest laps of the race once he had extracted himself from the gravel, but his car developed a water leak shortly afterwards. The PK Sport/Ricardo car survived to finish eighth overall and fourth in class, but was later excluded by the Stewards both for the aggressiveness of the move that caused the accident and because it was almost a lap down at the time.
Stephen Earle and Bart Hayden notched up the Sebah team's best ever ELMS finish, taking second in GT ahead of the Paco Orti Porsche. Orti had drafted in Wolfgang Kaufmann for this race and was rewarded when the German ace seized the lead in the opening laps, only to be disappointed again when he suffered a puncture and had to pit early. <pre> 1 Gulf Motorsport Stefan Johansson/Patrick Lemarie Audi R8 117 laps 2 Racing Organisation Course Jordi Gene/Christophe Pillon Reynard 01Q-VW +4 laps 3 Lanesra Racing Tomas Enge/Jaroslav Janis Panoz LMP Roadster S +6 laps 4 Ray Mallock Limited Bruno Lambert/Ian McKellar Jr Saleen S7-R +5 laps 5 PK Sport/Ricardo Mike Youles/Robin Liddell Porsche 911 GT3-R +4 laps 6 Sebah Racing Dr Stephen Earle/Bart Hayden Porsche 911 GT3-R +1 lap 7 Paco Orti Team Wolfgang Kaufmann/Paco Orti Porsche 911 GT3-R +1 lap 8 Skea Racing International Richard Dean/Giovanni Anapoli Porsche 911 GT3-R +1 lap 9 Konrad Motorsport Charlie Slater/Maciej Stanco Porsche 911 GT2 +1 lap