McNish and Kaffer win at Silverstone

McNish and Kaffer win at Silverstone

Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx dominated the 1,000km of Silverstone round of the Le Mans Endurance Series, with the ...

Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx dominated the 1,000km of Silverstone round of the Le Mans Endurance Series, with the #8 Audi R8 taking victory by a margin of more than one lap.

#8 Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx Audi R8: Allan McNish, Pierre Kaffer.
Photo by Audi Sport Press.
Allan McNish and Pierre Kaffer, driving starting in third place, moved ahead of the sister #88 car in the early laps and took the lead when the pole position Zytek Engineering pitted early. The Audi was never headed from this point onwards, and crossed the line one and a half laps ahead of Le Mans winners Seija Ara and Rinaldo Capello of Team Goh.

Kaffer drove the first stint and moved to the front on lap 30 before dropping back and then retaking the lead on lap 46. McNish took over the wheel on lap 64 and led the rest of the race, comfortably lapping faster than the other Audis and without suffering any significant problems. McNish backed off in the closing laps to conserve fuel and avoid a last-minute splash-and-dash. "We had to be conservative - we backed off and I tried to bring the car home. The pace was there but we wanted to win the race."

Team Goh qualified the Audi R8 in sixth place and Capello had moved up to third by quarter distance after the Creation Autosportif Zytek car made an unexpected pit stop and retired from the race. Ara then took over and benefited from a long pit stop by Herbert to take second place. The pair repeatedly exchanged second place during the remaining pit stops as Ara gradually moved further ahead on the track and eventually crossed the line over a lap ahead. "In the first two stints the car was very hard to drive," explained Capello, "but in the last two stints it felt like a different car."

The other Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx car of Johnny Herbert and Jamie Davies ran ahead of Kaffer in the early laps but then slowly fell behind and was passed by Team Goh. "We had a good qualifying car but not a good race car - we didn"t seem to have any overall grip," said Herbert, who also lost twenty seconds in the pits on lap 92 after the car sustained damage to the front right section, and Davies also reported a slow puncture that caused unpredictable handling early in the race.

Zytek Engineering started from pole position and held the lead in the opening laps at the hands of Robbie Kerr, but the team were forced to make early second stop to repair damage to the car after contact with the Lister Storm LMP Chevrolet LS1 of Robb Barff and Justin Keen. The team then suffered two slow mid-race stints and these were enough to drop them down to fourth place, crossing the line just over one lap behind Herbert.

Courage Competition won the LM P2 class with the C65 of Jean-Marc Gounon, Alexander Frei and Sam Hancock leading the whole race and finishing six laps ahead of the Welter Racing WR-V6 of Jean Bernard Bouvet and Jean Rene de Fournoux, which lost five minutes in the pits towards the end of the race due to gear selection problems.

The GTS class was hotly contested and eventually won by the Larbre Ferrari 550 Maranello of Pedro Lamy, Christophe Bouchut and Steve Zacchia. The car ran ahead of, but very close to, the Barron Connor Racing Ferrari 575GTC car of Mike Hezemans, Jean Denis Deletraz and Andrea Piccini for the whole of the race.

JMB Racing won the GT class with Roman Rusinov and Stephane Daoudi driving the Ferrari 360 Modena. Freisinger Motorsport"s Porsche 996 GT3 RSR initially led the challenge but a slow second stint dropped them behind Sebah Automotive Ltd"s Porsche 966 GT3 RS which went on to finish second in the class.

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Series European Le Mans
Drivers Johnny Herbert , Andrea Piccini , Rinaldo Capello , Allan McNish , Pedro Lamy , Robbie Kerr , Jean-Denis Deletraz , Mike Hezemans , Christophe Bouchut , Justin Keen , Roman Rusinov , Pierre Kaffer , Alexander Frei , Sam Hancock