McNish fights back to win at Silverstone

Audi Playstation Team Oreca won the Le Mans Endurance Series race at Silverstone after an intense battle during the final three hours of the race. Allan McNish gradually closed in on the leader Jamie Campbell Walter and, after a Safety Car period...

Audi Playstation Team Oreca won the Le Mans Endurance Series race at Silverstone after an intense battle during the final three hours of the race. Allan McNish gradually closed in on the leader Jamie Campbell Walter and, after a Safety Car period allowed the pair to close up, McNish moved his Audi R8 past the Creation Autosportif DBA Judd and then team-mate Ortelli remained ahead to win by 6.5 seconds.

The second half of the race started with a meeting among the team managers decided whether or not to stop the race which had been plagued by Safety Car periods due to the heavy rain and numerous accidents account the circuit. Just as the meeting ended the rain stopped and the track started to dry, so the race continued.

Nicolas Minassian handed over the Creation Autosportif DBA Judd to Campbell Walter who took over the responsibility of resisting the attack from McNish who was closing at up to five seconds per lap and scything through backmarkers. Claude Yves Gosselin was running in third place in the LM P2 class Paul Belmondo Racing Courage Ford.

There was a strong battle at the head of the GT1 class with Marcel Tiemann in the A-Level Engineering Porsche 996 just 1.3 seconds ahead of the Convers Team Ferrari 550 Maranello of Alexey Vasiliev and both drivers setting their cars' fastest laps of the race as they ran in ninth and tenth overall.

The GT2 class was being headed by Marc Lieb in the Sebah Automotive Porsche 966 who was in sixth place overall, continuing the strong performance from Pompidou in the first half of the race. The team was one lap ahead of the Autorlando Sport Porsche 996 GT3 RSR driven by Luigi Moccia.

The Pescarolo Sport C60 Hybride of Jean-Christophe Boullion, which was well out of contention after an accident earlier in the race and a lengthy pit stop, was pushed along the pitlane by Boullion and a team of marshals but returned to the track soon after at the hands of Emmanuel Collard and was the fastest car on track.

The Binnie Motorsports Lola McLaren of William Binnie was pushed backwards into the garage on lap 102. The Chamberlain-Synergy Motorsport Lola McLaren, which Amanda Stretton had crashed earlier in the race, was repaired and rejoined the race but gradually slowed and eventually stopped at the hands of Balba Camino on lap 107.

Callum Lockie had a scare when a wheel came off the left-rear of the car and rolled away to the side of the circuit as the car weaved and wobbled slowly around the circuit to get back to the pits. At the same time the Lister Racing Storm Hybride of Jens Muller spun off at Luffield and got stuck in the gravel, forcing the Safety Car to be deployed yet again.

The leader pitted at the restart and Campbell Walter remained in the car while it was refuelled and new tyres were fitted. After McNish's pit stop the gap was back at 30 seconds with McNish lapping one second faster than the leader

Franco Groppi had a moment in the Autorlando Sport Porsche 996 GT3 when he lost control at Vale and spun backwards off the circuit. The car was running in second place in the GT2 class at the time and this allowed the third-placed Scuderia Ecosse Ferrari 360 Modena GTC of Nathan Kinch to close up.

Campbell Walter responded to McNish's charge with the DBA's fastest lap of the race on lap 118 and the pair started to exchange fast laps as they moved through the backmarkers with the gap remaining at around 25 seconds. The rain started to fall again but fortunately it was only a brief shower.

Tommy Erdos had big problems getting away in the RML MG Lola. The car slowly moved slightly but then ground to a halt. Erdos tried again but the same thing happened so the team pulled the car back and, after repeated attempts, the car finally started and rejoined the race.

Tim Greaves went off the circuit at Luffield and the Renstal de Bokkenrijders Courage Judd got stuck in the gravel. It was in a dangerous position so the Safety Car was deployed while the car was removed.

McNish closed up to around five seconds behind the leader with a few backmarkers between the pair. At the restart the gap was just 3.4 seconds but slower first and second sectors from McNish allowed Campbell Walter to pull out a couple of seconds, which McNish immediately pulled back in the first sector of the second lap.

McNish maintained the pressure and on lap 132 he dived inside the DBA under braking at Stowe corner to take the lead, pulling out a 0.9 second lead by the end of the lap and he slowly crept away over the next few laps. Campbell Walter put in several strong laps as he fought to remain in touch but the Audi's pace picked up.

Campbell Walter pitted on lap 137 for fuel and McNish pitted on lap 140 for fuel and a driver change. Strong laps by Campbell Walter and a slightly slower pace by Ortelli allowed the gap to close to just 0.2 seconds on lap 146 and the pair followed each other nose-to-tail around the circuit for several laps.

Ortelli set the fastest lap of the race on lap 148 with a 1m 53.936s lap as he resisted the intense pressure but then Campbell Walter's challenge dropped away in the final minutes as he lapped a couple of seconds slower and this allowed Ortelli to pull away and win by 6.5 seconds.

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About this article
Series European Le Mans
Drivers Allan McNish , Nicolas Minassian , Marcel Tiemann , Emmanuel Collard , Jean-Christophe Boullion , Luigi Moccia , Paul Belmondo , Marc Lieb , Alexey Vasiliev , Amanda Stretton , Nathan Kinch , William Binnie , Tim Greaves , Franco Groppi , Balba Camino