Peugeot beats Audi in an eventful Spa 1000 km

Peugeot beats Audi in an eventful Spa 1000 km

The first Peugeot vs Audi battle of 2010 has been won in favor of Peugeot. Coming from pole position, the no. 3 Peugeot driven by Pedro Lamy, Sebastien Bourdais and Simon Pagenaud took the chequered flag after in first position after a rather...

The first Peugeot vs Audi battle of 2010 has been won in favor of Peugeot. Coming from pole position, the no. 3 Peugeot driven by Pedro Lamy, Sebastien Bourdais and Simon Pagenaud took the chequered flag after in first position after a rather messy race.

#3 Team Peugeot Total Peugeot 908 HDi-FAP: Pedro Lamy, S?bastien Bourdais, Simon Pagenaud takes the checkered flag to win the race.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.

Even though the winning Peugeot crossed the finish line with a gap of more than a minute, it certainly wasn't an easy race for the French-Portuguese trio. Pedro Lamy threw the advantage of starting from pole position away already in the first corner when he braked too late and spun his car in La Source hairpin, dropping him back into ninth position. In the following three hours, the Peugeot would fight its way back to the lead, to score a very important victory on the road to Le Mans.

"In the warm-up lap we had a problem with getting the tires up to temperature and going into the first corner I thought I would have more grip and I lost the car," said Lamy about the first lap incident. "I was able to continue and found a good rhythm. I knew we had a good car for the race and I'm very happy with the victory."

The race got off with a messy start. Just a couple of minutes before the warm-up lap it started to rain on the back of the track, while it was still dry at the start/finish line. These treacherous conditions resulted in carnage during the opening laps of the 6-hour race.

Already in the warm-up lap Andre Lotterer was caught by surprise when he entered the wet part of the track in Malmedy and spun into the tire wall. This damaged the right rear of the Audi Sport Team Joest car, which cost the team more than four laps for repairs.

At the start of the race more problems developed. After the spin of the no. 3 Peugeot in the first corner, Filippo Francioni lost rear grip at Eau Rouge and made hard contact with the wall. This caused the first full-course caution of the race. At the restart, Eau Rouge caused more victims when Jean Christophe Boullion tipped the rear of the Team Oreca Matmut Peugeot driven by Olivier Panis, who lost control and crashed heavily into the tire wall.

#4 Team Oreca Matmut Peugeot 908 HDi-FAP: Olivier Panis, Nicolas Lapierre, Loic Duval and #13 Rebellion Racing Lola B10/60 Coupe Rebellion: Andrea Belicchi, Jean-Christophe Boullion crash.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.

After the rain in the first fifteen minutes of the race, the track dried very quickly, but this wasn't the end of all the chaos. Two hours into the race the red flag was suddenly waved. Luckily this wasn't because of a huge accident, but because the track had lost all its power and timing & scoring systems were down. After a half-hour break, the power was restored and the race could be restarted, but due to noise regulations it would cut the length of the race back to 5.5 hours.

In the final hour the rain clouds would return to Spa-Francorchamps. Even though it was just a drizzle, it was enough for Tom Kristensen to make the gamble to put cut slicks under the second placed Audi Sport Team Joest car during his final pit stop.

It didn't take long before the weather cleared up again, though, which gave Stephane Sarrazin with the no. 2 Peugeot the opportunity to close the gap. With only four minutes on the clock the Peugeot had closed the gap with Kristensen's Audi. It wouldn't take long before Sarrazin had passed the Audi in the Bus Stop for second place.

"At the end of the race my car was really twisting on slicks because of the low-downforce configuration and we decided to make the aggressive call to use the slicks," Kristensen explained. "Of course we're disappointed to finish third, but at least we've shown we're not afraid to take risks. It just didn't work out today."

LMP2 pole sitter Strakka Racing was not able to take its position on the grid, after a crash in the warm-up. This gave the early lead to the Ginetta-Zytec 09S of the Quifel -- ASM Team. Even though the team got halfway during the car a lot of pressure from the RML Lola HPD, Miguel Amaral and Olivier Pla kept their heads cool to finish in first position.

"I'm really happy to have a competitive car," Amaral concluded. "It was today very tricky with the weather and I'm glad I kept the car on the track. At the end I just had to try to keep my gap with RML car."

#7 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R15 TDI: Rinaldo Capello, Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.

The RML car driven by Tommy Erdos, Mike Newton and Andy Wallace would eventually finish second, one lap ahead on the no. 35 OAK Racing Pescarolo -- Judd of Richard Hein and Guilaume Moreau.

In LM GT1 it was proven that the Ford GT was by far the strongest car at Spa. The American car manufacturer took all spots on the podium. Over the race the no. 70 Marc VDS car and the no. 60 Matech Competition car switched the lead several times. In a thrilling final part of the race, the Marc VDS Racing (Bas Leinders, Markus Palttala and Eric de Donker) won the battle by just five seconds.

"Our team has done a very good job preparing the car, the Ford GT proved to be very good," Leinders said. "The weather was very difficult, but that made it just more fun! I'm very happy to win here in Spa, since it's our first race in the Le Mans Series and it's right before Le Mans. This gives us a great feeling."

Matech Competition took the other two remaining spots on the GT1 podium, with the no. 60 car (Thomas Mutsch, Jonathan Hirschi and Mathias Beche) on the second position and the no. 61 car (Cyndie Allemann, Rahel Frey and Yann Zimmer) in third place, after having started from the back of the grid.

In LM GT2 Team Felbermayr was clearly a class of its own. After having battled in the opening part of the race with pole sitter Jaime Melo (AF Corse Ferrari), Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz were able to pull away very quickly and extend the lead to a complete lap.

"It was a pretty eventful race for us," Lieb said. "It was a hard race because of the weather and under the wet conditions I had a good fight with the Ferrari of Melo. When the track dried I was clearly faster and drove away."

Behind the Team Felbermayr Proton Porsche, a very exciting fight for second spot developed in the final stages of the race. The Ferraris of Melo and Gianmaria Bruni and Jean Alesi, Giancarlo Fisichella and Toni Vilander were able to pass the BMW of Andy Priaulx, Dirk Muller and Augusto Farfus I the final hour, with the Porsche of IMSA Performance Matmut not far behind. All four cars finished within ten seconds of each other after six hours of racing.

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Series European Le Mans
Drivers Andy Wallace , Giancarlo Fisichella , Jean Alesi , Olivier Panis , Andre Lotterer , Gianmaria Bruni , Andy Priaulx , Rinaldo Capello , Tom Kristensen , Dirk Müller , Allan McNish , Stéphane Sarrazin , Pedro Lamy , Jean-Christophe Boullion , Sébastien Bourdais , Jaime Melo , Augusto Farfus , Marc Lieb , Filippo Francioni , Mike Newton , Olivier Pla , Nicolas Lapierre , Eric Gilbert , Miguel Amaral , Bas Leinders , Markus Palttala , Simon Pagenaud , Loic Duval , Richard Lietz , Cyndie Allemann , Andrea Belicchi , Rahel Frey , Richard Hein , Thomas Mutsch , Jonathan Hirschi , Mathias Beche , Yann Zimmer
Teams Team Joest , Rebellion Racing , OAK Racing , Strakka Racing , Team Felbermayr , Marc VDS Racing