By: Mikko "Mixa" Jalonen, LMS Correpondent
- LMS teams fared well at Le Mans 24H
- Greaves Motorsport scored P2 win
A look back into Le Mans 24 hours race from the view of Le Mans Series entries
Once a year, the best racing sportscar drivers and teams, gather together to compete against each other for the fame and honor at the most gruellng racing sportscar race of the world, also known as Le Mans 24 hours race.
The must hyped 79th edition of Le Mans 24 hours race will go to the history books as one of the best Le Mans 24 hours races ever. From qualifying to the 24 hours race itself, two giant´s Audi and Peugeot as expected were offering a great battle to the motorsport fans all around the world. As we know in the end, the race which saw some fearsome battles, unexpected huge crashes and even the weather to cause trouble at the end, was won by Audi just with the slight margin of 13 seconds over their rivals, Peugeot.
In this report through, we take a look to the Le Mans Series teams, which had their own drama and battles at the track while fighting for the class honors at the race where winning has been said to feel as good as winning the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Monaco or Indy 500 at Indy Car´s. In the end all three races are very legendary and something what most of the teams and drivers would love to win atleast once during their career.
LMP1: The battle of the petrol cars
At LMP1 as in Le Mans Series there isn´t any teams to use the diesel engines, the battle was considered to be the battle of petrol division. Despite the battle going on behind the diesel´s of Audi and Peugeot and the Le Mans Series powerhouses like Pescarolo Team and Rebellion Racing beeing a bit outpaced partly due to regulations, Pescarolo Team and Rebellion Racing were putting a good show to the fans.
At one point of the race, Pescarolo Team with their drivers Emmanuel Collard,Christophe Tinseau and Julien Jousse were running as high as 4th in the overall standings but unfortunately were forced to retire from the race when Collard at the wet track, lost the car at the Porsche Curves and therefore the team was forced to retire from the race giving the petrol division win for one of the Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyota´s driven by Nicolas Prost,Neel Jani and Jeroen Bleekemolen finishing 6th overall, 17 laps down of the winning Audi squad. From four started Le Mans Series squads, only Rebellion Racing´s #12 car finished the race.
LMP2: Greaves Motorsport takes the win
LMP2 at the start was meant to be the fight between the Oreca chassis using teams but 24 hours later when the race had been kicked off, it was Greaves Motorsport at the Zytek-Nissan taking the honor of winning the LMP2 category.
Greaves Motorsport with it´s drivers Karim Ojjeh, Thomas Kimber-Smith and Olivier Lombard kept it cool all the race long and managed to stay out of bigger trouble while their rivals which decided to push a bit more were having trouble more or less, retiring or forcing to have significant repairs at the pitbox. Greaves Motorsport finished 8th overall and won the LMP2 category by 6 laps ahead of Signatech Nissan team.
For other LMP2 teams of the Le Mans series, RML finished 12th overall, 4th in category, 12 laps down the winning Greaves Motorsport Zytek and 5 laps behind the last podium finisher the ALMS entry of Level 5 Motorsports. 19th overall and 6th in category were Race Performance with their Oreca 03-Judd BMW package. Race Performance finished the race 22 laps behind Greaves Motorsport after various number of problems with their car.
LM-GTE PRO: AF Corse finishes 2nd in category
Lost the win just a few hours before the finish due to various number of problems.
AF Corse´s number 51 entry of Giancarlo Fisichella, Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander were considered as the strongest Ferrari entry before the race due to ALMS entry of Risi Competizione electing to not run at Le Mans this year. The decision was made before the start of the 2011 season by the Ameircan-based Ferrari team.
At the race itself AF Corse had a strong start and was swapping places with another Corvette and BMW and after the BMW and Corvette were having trouble, AF Corse finded themselves with a few lap lead and was looking to go for the win but the gremlins which got worse just a few hours before the finish line forced AF Corse and it´s drivers to let pass the another Corvette Racing entry and therefore AF Corse and Ferrari had to settle for 2nd place. AF Corse still finished the race at 13th overall and with the same lap as the Corvette and a lap ahead of the 3rd place finisher, one of the BMW Motorsport entries.
Most of the other Le Mans Series finishers were Porsche´s including the last years winners, Team Felbermayer Proton, Imsa Performance Matmut. This year, the Porsche´s through just did not had the straight line speed as in earlier years and were really struggling to fight against quicker Ferrari´s, Corvette´s and BMW´s. At the end of the race, Porsche´s were seen surprisinly low through and despite as always the teams using the Porsche´s had the reliability them just didn´t had the speed. The best finishing Porsche Team Felbermayer-Proton finished 16th overall and 4th in class, 2 laps down the winning Corvette, IMSA Performance Matmut were 17th overall 3 laps behind the winner.
LM-GTE AM category was won by Larbre Competition´s Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
Patrick Bornhauser, Julien Canal and Gabriele Gardel took the surprise victory
The topic of the weekend with LM GTE cars were through the traffic caused by them and two big crashes the LM GTE cars were involved. During the race two of the Ferraris had touches with LMP1 Audi´s . First at the early race when Luxyry Racing Ferrari had to witness the huge shunt of Allan McNish on his Audi. McNish, wen´t to pass the another Audi and Luxury Racing´s Ferrari F458 Italia from the inside but the Audi touched slightly with the Ferrari and after that McNish became just a passenger. Luckily no one wasn't hurt and while the Audi was totally destroyed, Luxury Racing returned for the pits, made repairs and got back into the race. Later also Mike Rockenfeller with #1 had a crash when touched with the LM GTE entry. By rumor ACO is looking possibilities and solutions to make racing even safer as especially this year, traffic caused by much slower LM GTE cars was said to be a bit of a problem. Some drivers even when the costs would raise, were even hoping a return of GT1´s as a subcategory with old regulations.