Full points Yann Clairay clocked up his second pole position on the new Algarve circuit before coming away with his second win of the season in the Le Mans Series, along with Patrice Goueslard and Julien Jousse. The Luc Alphand Aventures team ...
Yann Clairay clocked up his second pole position on the new Algarve circuit before coming away with his second win of the season in the Le Mans Series, along with Patrice Goueslard and Julien Jousse. The Luc Alphand Aventures team therefore secured maximum points in the event and affirmed its title claims in the LMGT1 class. Luc Alphand, still convalescing following his motorbike accident, must have appreciated the distant sound of the Marseillaise ringing out in the Portuguese!
There is no such thing as an easy win, even if you've got only one rival to beat. Firstly, because a 1000 km race in the Le Mans Series is anything but a drive in the park. In order to win, you need to avoid all the traps on the way to the finish. The Portimao circuit represented a new discovery and night racing with prototypes pitted against GTs is a feature of endurance racing that never fails to intrigue. Then again, the opposition were scarcely newcomers to the race, the Saleen car having carried off the LMS GT1 title in 2007, while the Larbre Competition team's record in GT racing commands respect. Finally, we should remember that Corvette No 72 suffered serious damage during the Le Mans 24 Hours and the chassis had to be sent to the USA for repairs.
On the week before the event in Portugal, the Corvette was once again ready to tackle the new course. "We had only one team to beat", said Yann, "but that didn't stop us from attacking from the start. In the third session of open practice I finished 2.7 seconds ahead of the Saleen and 9 seconds behind the best prototype. Then, in qualification, I made pole position in the class by a two second margin, cutting back on the risks as I did so as there was cooling liquid on the track."
Patrice Gueslard's job was to take the lead at the start, which he duly did. After the first hour, Yann took over the wheel and ran up the best lap time. A refuelling problem meant that the second part of his double stint was cut to 15 laps, during which he lost nine seconds in a spin. The Saleen had more serious problems to contend with and sat it out for fifteen laps. It finished 43 laps behind a Corvette which did not hang about. "We had set our sights on closing the gap on the top 10 in the general classification, without taking undue risks, of course." Luc Alphand Aventures certainly didn't want a Pyrrhic victory. The Goueslard/Jousse/Clairay crew finished 14th in the event and was a comfortable winner in the GT1 class.
"The team deserves a vote of thanks for providing us with the perfect car. We had confirmation that Dunlop developments since Spa were instrumental in ensuring both a winning performance and tyre reliability. This win was for Luc. It can't have been much fun watching the race on TV. Although we'll be trying to win the title at the Nurburgring, we're nonetheless hoping for a keenly contested race." The next round of the Le Mans Series will be taking place at the foot of the Eifel hills on 23 August.