After Porsches, P2 shaping up as a battle of attrition

At the moment, this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans' battle for LM P2 is between both leading Porsche RS Spyders. Within the last half hour Keisuke Kunimoto in the #5 Navi Team Goh entry has overtaken the #31 Team Essex car wheeled by Kristian Poulsen for the class lead.

Assuming the Porsches are bulletproof, not to mention the defending class champions with the Dutch Van Merksteijn entry last year, the battle in P2 is for P3, the final spot on the podium.

But getting there in recent years is easier said than done. Ordinarily P2 has been something of an attrition benefit with the last team standing always in contention for either the class victory or a podium result.

#26 Bruichladdich Bruneau Radical AER: Pierre Bruneau, Marc Rostan, Tim Greaves.
Photo by Tom Haapanen.

It's already starting to play out that way. Last hour the lone Radical SR9 AER in the field suffered a massive shunt, the #26 Bruichladdich Bruneau entry in the hands of Tim Greaves. Greaves was yielding to quicker P1 prototypes Stuart Hall in the #009 Lola Aston Martin and the #3 Audi R15 TDI, though Hall moved right and knocked Greaves off the road.

"I don't know how bad the damage is, I'd have to watch the video," Greaves said, who was not injured after the incident. "I was leaving him room down the inside, the GT car left room for both of us to go, and then next minute bang. We were just trying to cruise, and race the track."

Stuart Moseley was not running far behind in the #32 Barazi Epsilon Zytek 07S, and relayed what he saw. A former Radical driver for the Bruichladdich team, Moseley admitted the challenges of the P2 class both in racing and making the finish.

"I'd take it as a complete surprise, I don't think he expected it," Moseley offered. "The braking is very quick there, and you slow only a small amount to take that chicane. The problem with P2 is that the straight line speed is not there; it's very difficult to pass the GT cars on the straight so you have to go quicker in the corners to compensate."

Another car having issues is the #30 Racing Box SRL Lola B09/80 Judd. In the race's third hour the car lost some right rear bodywork on pit entry, but also lost time in the garage with mechanical gremlins.

"We had a gearbox problem so we stopped, then McNish passed me on the restart, and we lost the rear panel," said Matteo Bobbi. "We changed everything after that. We lost two laps there, and the car is not easy to drive."

The #40 Quifel-ASM Team Ginetta Zytek 09S had issues all race, culminating in severe right front suspension damage as Miguel Amaral limped around to the pit. The team just retired from the race, a pity for Olivier Pla and Guy Smith who qualified the car fifth of 12 on the P2 grid.

None of those three has retired as yet but it wouldn't come as a shock to see several more P2 cars fall by the wayside as the race progresses.