ILMC: Round 5 promises to be a thriller!
The fifth round of the 2011 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup will take place in a week’s time in Great Britain. The Autosport 6 Hours of Silverstone will prove crucial in the race down to the wire as the end of the season approaches.
Next week the ILMC, the world series launched by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, will resume on the prestigious Silverstone circuit after a 2-month break. The opening practice sessions will take place on Friday 9th September, and the start of the 35th endurance race run on the famous British track will be given at 11h55 on Sunday 11th September.
Peugeot has a slight worry as Anthony Davidson, winner of the race last year (with Nicolas Minassian) and also winner of the Imola round in July (with Sébastien Bourdais) fractured his shoulder blade at the beginning of August in a fall from a mountain bike. If the local lad is still down on the entry list at the wheel of the no. 7 Peugeot, his participation in the event remains in doubt. Simon Pagenaud has been called in as backup, and will replace the Englishman if he is not fit in time to share the 908 with Bourdais. Peugeot is chasing the manufacturers’ title, and the French team has but a single objective whether or not Davidson is in the 908: “Bring both our cars home to the finish,” explains Olivier Quesnel, the Peugeot Sport Team Principal. “Just a single retirement could put us back to square one!”
Audi with its two R18s, driven by Bernhard-Fässler and Kristensen-McNish, which were outpaced by the French cars at Imola, are also fully aware of just how important this event is before tackling the last two rounds of the season after Silverstone, the Petit Le Mans (1st October) and the Zhuhai 6 Hours (13th November). Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "The Intercontinental Le Mans Cup is now in the decisive half of the season. After the disappointing result at Imola we want to be at the very front again at Silverstone. Silverstone should be a race track on which we can convert this potential into a good result."
Aston Martin is back with one of its DBR1-2s, and the Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyota and the two OAK Racing OAK-Pescarolos complete the LM P1 field. Matthieu Lahaye returns with OAK Racing as he has fully recovered from his injuries in the Spa 1000 Km, and Olivier Pla has joined the French team in no. 24 alongside Alexandre Premat and the boss, Jacques Nicolet.
Level 5 Motorsports has decided to give the Silverstone round a miss as the Honda ordered to replace the Lola chassis with which the team has been racing so far this year, is not yet ready. The American team will compete in the last two rounds of the ILMC. Signatech-Nissan and OAK Racing, the other two entries in LM P2 in the ILMC, will have a battle on their hands with the nine LM P2s in the Le Mans Series, led by the Greaves Motorsport Zytek-Nissan driven by Ojjeh-Lombard-Kimber-Smith.
Like the LM P1s, the final run down to the wire is also starting at Silverstone for the LM GTE category. BMW, which is still looking for another win after its double in the Sebring 12 Hours, can‘t afford another slip-up in England. Ferrari got the upper hand in the following rounds and the AF Corse F458s drove home the point by scoring a double on home turf at Imola.
In LM GTE Am, Larbre Competition will be out to score a hat trick after its ILMC victories in the Le Mans 24 Hours and the Imola 6 Hours. The Corvette driven by Bornhauser-Canal-Gardel will have to fight off the threat posed by the very quick Ferrari F430s entered by Krohn Racing and AF Corse.
The Silverstone circuit is located between the towns of Milton Keynes, Northampton and Oxford. It measures 5,891 km and is laid out on a former Royal Air Force base. It hosted its first race in 1948 and has been revamped several times since then. The British F1 Grand Prix has been held there since 1950 - without a break since 1987. It is a prestigious, quick and historic circuit on which other international events for both cars and bikes are run. Since 1976, whether in 6-hour or 1000-km format, it has hosted rounds of all the major endurance championships. This year the Autosport 6 Hours of Silverstone will be the 35th running of the British endurance classic. With the exception of 2005, the Silverstone 1000 kms has been part of the Le Mans Series calendar since 2004. The layout was modified last year and it combines quick and slow portions, which the drivers love!