Pescarolo take dominant win at Donington

Pescarolo take dominant win at Donington
Dec 10, 2006, 4:13 AM

Pescarolo Sport won the 1000Km European Le Mans Series race at Donington Park with a dominant performance after recovering from two early penalties. Jean Christophe-Boullion moved through the field during a strong first stint, Didier Andre ...

Pescarolo Sport won the 1000Km European Le Mans Series race at Donington Park with a dominant performance after recovering from two early penalties. Jean Christophe-Boullion moved through the field during a strong first stint, Didier Andre maintained the lead during the middle stint and Collard guided the car to the finish for a comfortable win.

"We are really happy to win this race, especially the championship," said Collard. "Now we need to do the same in Jarama." The Creation Autosportif cars finished in second and third. "It's a really good result to have two cars from the team up here. These guys did a great job and we couldn't be happier", said third-placed Jamie Campbell-Walker.

Hideki Noda took the lead at the start as he forced his #2 Zytek Motorsport into the lead on the inside of the first corner and aggressively locked up his brakes. Jean-Marc Gounon backed off the #12 Courage Competition and followed the leading Zytek around the lap before diving down the inside at the hairpin to go ahead.

Boullion, in the #17 Pescarolo Sport, passed Noda on the pit straight at the end of the opening lap and Nicolas Minassian made an aggressive pass on the inside at the top of the hill to move his #10 Creation Autosportif up to third, with Marcel Fassler taking fourth by diving his #5 Swiss Sport Courage down the inside at the chicane.

Boullion received a stop-go penalty for knocking over a bollard and a black flag was subsequently awarded as he had not taken the penalty on the correct spot, eventually returning in fifth place. "I couldn't believe that we made a mistake on the stop-and-go but that's the rule. We were in the wrong place so we had to do it again," said Boullion.

Gounon continued in the lead but was closely pursued by the #9 Creation Autosportif of Campbell-Walter, who had worked his way up from fourth on the grid and was clearly the faster of the two. Campbell-Walter pulled alongside on the pit straight on lap 18 but Gounon forced him onto the grass. Gounon ran wide at the final corner of the lap and Campbell-Walter dived through, quickly followed by Minassien.

Boullion made a strong recovery from his penalty firstly by taking fourth place on Gounon on lap 27 and then taking advantage of the first round of pit stops to emerge in the lead, running ten seconds ahead of Fassler who was closely followed by Campbell-Walker in third with Minassian a few seconds further back in fourth.

Boullion put in a strong stint to pull away by about two seconds per lap and set the fastest lap of the race so far on lap 57. Minassian pushed hard in order to make up the eight-second gap between himself and Fassler in second.

The Safety Car was deployed on lap 67 and, after the pit stops, Boullion was leading Campbell-Walter by fifteen seconds, who was one minute ahead of Kevin McGarrity who had taken over in the third-placed #10 Creation Autosportif, with Stefan Johansson behind the wheel of the #2 Zytek in fourth.

Campbell-Walter pitted at the restart but lost over a minute due a problem with a brake disc and eventually handed over to Beppe Gabbiani who rejoined in sixth place. The car slowed briefly at the hairpin on its out lap but then returned to its normal pace.

Boullion pitted on lap 78 to hand over to Didier Andre who rejoined in second place, fifteen seconds behind the leading Garrity and fifteen seconds ahead of Johansson in third place. Andre started to reel in the leader and Johansson closed on them both, passing Andre on lap 94, and a couple of laps later made a brave dive inside McGarrity at the Old Hairpin to take the lead.

Johansson pitted on lap 102 to hand back over to Noda and this allowed McGarrity to retake the lead, four seconds ahead of Andre, although this lead was short-lived as McGarrity then pitted handing the lead to Andre.

The #9 Creation Autosportif of Gabbiani was awarded a stop-go penalty for lap 102 for overtaking under yellow flags and soon afterwards the #12 Courage Competition of Gregor Fiskin was awarded a 30-second penalty on lap 116 for speeding in the pit lane.

Andre maintained a small lead over Noda during the middle of the race - the gap fluctuated as the cars encountered traffic but remained less than ten seconds until Noda pitted for fuel.

Andre pitted on lap 156 with nearly a one-lap lead over Noda to hand the #17 Pescarolo Sport over to Emmanuel Collard, who quickly caught and passed Noda at Coppice on lap 162 but then Noda fought back at the Melbourne hairpin and pulled out a small lead as the pair encountered traffic.

Noda pitted on lap 174 but a locking nut on the left-rear wheel caused a 90-second delay as the mechanics franticly tried to detach the locked wheel. Johansson took over the #2 Zytek Motorsport and rejoined in third place, but he lost ten seconds on lap 182 and pitted unexpectedly on the next lap for a long visit to the garage and ultimately retired with clutch failure.

Collard pitted for fuel on lap 193 and he returned one lap ahead of the #10 Creation Autosportif of Minassian. Campbell-Walter was running in third place in the sister Creation Autosportif and repeatedly setting fastest laps of the race so far despite being two laps behind Minassian.

Collard, Minassian and Campbell-Walter all maintained a consistent pace at the front and avoided any late dramas to finish in that order.

There were several retirements during the race, including the #5 Swiss Spirit Courage Judd which retired with gearbox problems on lap 79 while running in fifth place and the #6 Lister Storm Racing which pulled into the pit lane with a cloud of smoke from the back of the car on its 56th lap.

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