Peugeot roars in the Belgian hills With its mixture of long straights, fast corners and varying gradients, the Spa-Francorchamps circuit ranks as one of the most technically challenging circuits visited by the Le Mans Series but is a firm...
Peugeot roars in the Belgian hills
With its mixture of long straights, fast corners and varying gradients, the Spa-Francorchamps circuit ranks as one of the most technically challenging circuits visited by the Le Mans Series but is a firm favorite with drivers, teams and fans alike.
Team Peugeot Total took up the challenge of this historic track and claimed first place overall, while Team Essex did the same in the LMP2 class. The Luc Alphand Aventures Corvette scored its first victory of the season in the GT1 class and Team Felbermayr-Proton ruled in the GT2 class.
Over 100 drivers and about 30,000 spectators could enjoy a fine, sunny race which was disrupted by five safety-car periods. Indeed, many cars went off or had contact, but, on the whole, professional and gentlemen drivers were able to share the track in good spirit.
Favorites win in LMP classes
The race at Barcelona kicked the season off and the teams are now used to the new regulations, both in the pits and in technical matters. The very demanding Belgian roller-coaster has honoured its reputation and has been merciless to both teams and drivers. The winner had the best technical set-up compromises and spent very little time in the pits.
The # 7 Team Peugeot Total did not miss a beat in its season debut in the Le Mans Series and took the checkered flag in first place. The French team clearly showed to its main rivals that it will be one of the main contenders for victory at Le Mans in June, as Nicolas Minassian explained: "We had a different strategy from our sister-car. We tried many solutions to learn as much as we could. Now we know the good things to do." Nothing today could prevent the 908 HDi FAP from taking another victory but, despite chalking up the best lap time, the team could not achieve a 1-2 victory as the #9 car ran into a number of problems.
Team Pescarolo reached the second step of the podium, as in Barcelona. Team Pescarolo Sport has been a stalwart of the Le Mans Series since it started and has reaped the rewards of its hard work on car set-up on the Bugatti track two weeks ago. After taking the victory at Barcelona one month ago, Aston Martin Racing has reinforced its good result, finishing third, right ahead of Team Oreca Matmut AIM, and positioned itself as one of the favorites for the 2009 title.
The Porsche RS Spyder is back at the top of the LMP2 class. The German prototype won every round in the series last year and despite very few technical changes -- the ones needed to comply with the 2009 regulations -- it is still racing super-competitively. But, as the Spa race might be a one-off for the Danes, Speedy Racing Team Sebah and Racing Box keep their chances alive for the title after respectively second and third place in Belgium.
Moreover, after the Bruichladdich-Bruneau Radical at Barcelona, Team Essex has been the best performer while using the least amount of fuel and won the Michelin Green X Challenge.
A tremendous GT race
Despite only three cars being entered, the GT1 class was interesting throughout the race. The JetAlliance Aston Martin DBR9 started from pole position but it was Luc Alphand Aventures Corvette C6.R which took the checkered flag first.
The GT2 class is surely becoming the most competitive in the world. Five marques struggled fiercely throughout although Porsche and Ferarri had the upper hand throughout. In the end, it was Team Felbermayr-Proton's Porsche 997 GT3 RS, driven by Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz which crossed the line first, followed by three Ferraris.
Novelty and classicism in support races
In Classic Endurance Racing, Jean-Marc Luco took his second victory in a row with his Porsche 936 after a good fight with Jacques Nicolet and his March, and in Radical European Masters, yesterday's winners are also today's as Jeff Collier and Alex Kapadia won the trophy.
The Dodge Viper is still venomous and won the second race of Belgian GT Championship driven by Koen Wauters and Jeffrey Van Hooydonk, while Team Dams did not leave any chance to his opponents in the Formula Le Mans Cup and brought two trophies home thanks to Gavin Cronje and Nicolas Verdonck.