European Le Mans Series - Round 3 Portugal Courage Takes First ELMS Win in Dramatic Circumstances Estoril, Portugal - Sunday 15th July 2001: The Pescarolo Sport Courage C60, with Boris Derichebourg at the wheel, took the chequered flag ...
European Le Mans Series - Round 3 Portugal
Courage Takes First ELMS Win in Dramatic Circumstances
Estoril, Portugal - Sunday 15th July 2001: The Pescarolo Sport Courage C60, with Boris Derichebourg at the wheel, took the chequered flag in controversial circumstances at the end of a gruelling six hour endurance race at Estoril in Portugal today. An accident between the two leading prototypes ended what look like a certain victory for the Johansson Racing Audi R8 and with it a guaranteed entry in next years 24 hour Le Mans.
At the start of the race the lead cars disappeared into the distance, with the GTS class being headed by the Konrad Motorsport Saleen. In the highly competitive GT class the pole sitter, Mike Youles in the PK Sport Porsche lost out to Xavier Pompidou in the Freisinger entered Porsche. With only 15 minutes of the race completed the safety car was deployed after the Skea Racing Porsche driven by Richard Dean dropped a trail of oil on the track after being hit from behind. For quarter of an hour the cars circulated behind the safety car before being released to start the race again. The Courage C60 went into the lead when the Audi dived into the pit lane for its first scheduled stop as the race entered it second hour. For ten minutes the French team led the race before stopping for the first time. When the car exited the pits they were just 8 seconds adrift of the Gulf Audi driven by Stefan Johansson.
The 675 prototype of Didier Bonnet Racing was running well until the car lost a wheel when a spindle broke just after two hours into the race. The GTS battle took a turn when Franz Konrad came into the pits to change with Walter Brun. The Konrad team lost the lead to the RML Saleen as Bruno Lambert elected to stay in the car when he came in the very next lap, a lead that RML didn't lose for the rest of the race.
In GT, the battle to watch was the two Porsches of Pompidou and Robin Liddell who took over from Youles in the PK Sport Porsche. These two cars left the rest of the 12 car GT field in their wake and even after 150 laps they were only 3 or 4 seconds seconds apart.
With less than hour of the race remaining the Courage was a lap behind the Audi R8 of Gulf sponsored Johansson Racing. After the final pitstops Derichbourg found himself right behind the Audi as they entered the first corner. As he tried to unlap himself the two cars touched, spinning the hapless Tom Coronel at the wheel of the R8, into an uncontrollable spin. The car took off, hitting the catch fencing, before coming to rest in the gravel trap, parts of the car hitting two marshals causing minor cuts and bruises to the two officials. Debris littered the track as a very unhappy Coronel walked back to the pits.
After the safety car period the Courage C60 paced itself to the line, 12 laps ahead of the second placed RML Saleen and 16 laps ahead of the Konrad Motorsport Saleen. Roman Dumas brought the Freisinger Porsche home just 3.2 seconds ahead of the PK Sport machine. After the race Boris Derichebourg apologised to the Audi Team for his mistake, but was happy to win the race and guarantee Pescarolo Sport a slot at the 2002 24 Hours Le Mans.
<pre> Round 3 - Estoril 1000 km - Race Result
1 72 900 J-C Boullion/ Redon / Derichebourg Courage C60 6:00:21.719 2 41 GTS Lambert / McKellar / Goodwin Saleen S7R +12 Laps 3 26 GTS Konrad / Brun / Slater Saleen S7R +16 Laps 4 77 GT Pompidou / Dumas Porsche +18 Laps 5 60 GT Youles / Liddell / Maserati Porsche +18 Laps 6 66 GT Simmons/Rymer/Pickering Porsche +20 Laps 7 52 GT Lister / Wallinder / Breyner Porsche +20 Laps 8 65 GT Orti / Villaroel / Sa Nogueira Porsche +21 Laps 9 70 GT Alphand / Marques Porsche +22 Laps 10 61 GT Humphrey / Moss / Demeroutis Porsche +25 Laps 11 63 GT Noel / Caternet / Schoysman Porsche +28 Laps 12 56 GTS Monteiro/ Verdon-Roe/ Breyner Chrysler +28 Laps 13 74 GT Rata / Sheldon / Jakobitsch Porsche +29 Laps 14 68 GT Walters/ Bellamy Chevrolet +37 Laps