Category Archives: Motorsport News

The 58th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring

The traditional Le Mans 24 Hours curtain-raiser, the 12 Hours of Sebring, took place in Florida on Saturday (20th March 2010). Alexander Wurz brought the Peugeot 908 diesel home for overall victory. Team-mates Marc Gene & Anthony Davidson were relatively untroubled with only the second Peugeot piloted by Sebastian Bourdais, Nicolas Minassian and Pedro Lamy pushing them close near the end. Gene and Wurz were teammates for Peugeot’s historic victory at the Le Mans 24 Hours last June.

The two Lolas of Aston Martin Racing and Drayson Racing provided Peugeot’s biggest challenge in the early stages. The Drayson Lola proved quick early on with Emanuele Pirro producing a magnificent passing manoeuvre to split the 2 Peugeots in the early stages . Sadly time in the pits with alternator issues curtailed the Drayson team challenge, but Aston Martin with drivers Adrian Fernandez, Harold Primat and Stefan Mücke continued to take third place.

Greg Pickett, Klaus Graf and Sascha Maassen won the LMP2 class for Muscle Milk Team CytoSport. Their Porsche RS Spyder won by three laps from Patrón Highcroft Racing (drivers David Brabham, Simon Pagenaud and Marino Franchitti) which had held the lead until an electrical problem meant they were overtaken whilst in the pit lane. Chris Dyson, Guy Smith and Andy Meyrick finished a creditable third place in LMP2 with their isobutanol-powered Lola B09/86-Mazda. Their race was hampered by technical problems in the first few hours but finished strongly.

The red Ferrari F430 GT of Risi Competizione, driven by Jaime Melo, Gimmi Bruni and Pierre Kaffer, won in the GT2 class. Risi took a one-lap victory ahead of BMW Rahal Letterman Racing’s two BMW M3s. The GT2 class was action packed throughout the 12 hours. The Team Falken Porsche started at the front but managed to lose two wheels around the track on consecutive laps. The second lost wheel made impact with the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche, who were running second at the time, causing them to pit and lose three laps to the rest of the competition. Elsewhere the two Corvettes managed to commit racing suicide by colliding in the pit lane.

The Sebring circuit was packed with spectators on the infield throughout the 12 hours, enjoying the unbroken Florida sunshine and the excellent commentary provided by the team at Radio Le Mans. Podcasts are available to download atwww.radiolemans.com. Travel & tickets for next year’s 12 hours of Sebring will be offered via the Radio Le Mans Travel Club on this website. For more details please click on the Radio Le Mans logo above, or register your details with info@traveldestinations.co.uk

Meet the team at the Autosport Show

The Autosport International Show, 14th – 17th January 2010

Come and meet the Travel Destinations team at the Autosport International show at the NEC in Birmingham from the 14th – 17th January 2010.

The Travel Destinations team and some special guests will be on stand 6610, in Hall 6 for the duration of the show and will be available to answer your Le Mans questions and help you make the most of your time at Le Mans this year. If you haven’t already booked then you will be able to discuss your requirements with our knowledgeable staff.

The new Travel Destinations 2010 brochure will be available, so make sure you pop by and pick up a copy.

Autosport International brings the fans of motorsport closer to the cars and stars they love than any other event. Marvel at all the current F1 cars on the F1 Racing Grid, see the latest rally machines on the Rally Display. As always, there will be several show features showing some of the rarest and impressive racing cars around.The Autosport Central Stage hosts some of the sport’s biggest names, including Le Mans veteran Alan McNish.

Book your tickets for the Autosport International by clicking here.

Travel Destinations 2010 Brochure Now Available

Travel Destination’s 2010 Tours & Events brochure is now available, following its launch at the Classic Motor Show. As well as the Le Mans 24 hours & the Le Mans Classic, the brochure features events such as the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the Monaco Historic Grand Prix, Angouleme Circuit des Remparts & the Six Hours of Spa.

Photo (from Left to Right) Gautier Rossignol (Le Mans Classic), Richard Webb (Travel Destinations) John Hindhaugh (Radio Le Mans)

The new brochure was launched at the Classic Motor Show on the Travel Destinations stand. Staff members Andrew Melley & Richard Webb were joined by guests John Hindhaugh, from Radio Le Mans, and Gautier Rossignol from Le Mans Classic. Also present were our Le Mans Photographer, Dave Davies and chateau campsite managers Tony Flint and Jonathan Rowe.

Photo (from left to right) Andrew Melley (Travel Destinations) shows the new brochure to John Hindhaugh (Radio Le Mans).

On first seeing the brochure John, who is widely regarded as the voice of Le Mans, commented “What a great brochure! Really Excellent. I particularly like the page on Radio Le Mans.” Gautier said “Travel Destinations is my favourite company. I really enjoy working with them.”

If you would like to receive a copy of the brochure please call (0844) 873 0203 and leave your name and address. Alternatively come and visit the Travel Destinations stand at the Autosport Show at the NEC in Birmingham from the 14th – 17th January 2010.

2010 Brochure Launch at the Classic Motor Show

The new Travel Destinations 2010 Tours & Events brochure will be launched this Friday at the Classic Motor Show at the NEC in Birmingham. The brochure features all of the different packages available for the Le Mans 24 hours and the Le Mans Classic in 2010.

In addition to Le Mans there are also special offers for Daytona, Angouleme & the 6 hours of Spa.

To order your copy of the new Travel Destinations 2010 Tours and Events Brochure please call us on (0844) 873 0203 and we will be happy to post one to you.  Alternatively please come and say hello at the Travel Destinations stand in Hall 4 of the NEC at the Classic Motor Show between the 13th & 15th November.

The Classic Motor Show is all about bringing together people who share a passion for cars. Every year this traditional ‘season grand finale’ for the classic car scene attracts many tens of thousands of enthusiasts from all over the UK, Europe and even further away.

The show celebrates all ages, marques and models. The veteran, the vintage, the classic and the future classic, with a huge and diverse display of 1000 cars ranging from the most accessible popular classics through to the thoroughly outrageous and rare exotica. The Classic Motor Show brings together the whole motoring spectrum in this unique annual celebration of the car. Along with the huge car displays, the show hosts the biggest single gathering of UK companies and traders offering every conceivable product and service to the classic car owner/enthusiast plus some superb and unique show features.

To find out more about the Classic Motor Show or to obtain tickets visit www.necclassicmotorshow.com

2010 Brochure Launch at the Classic Motor Show

The new Travel Destinations 2010 Tours & Events brochure will be launched this Friday at the Classic Motor Show at the NEC in Birmingham. The brochure features all of the different packages available for the Le Mans 24 hours and the Le Mans Classic in 2010.

In addition to Le Mans there are also special offers for Daytona, Angouleme & the 6 hours of Spa.

To order your copy of the new Travel Destinations 2010 Tours and Events Brochure please call us on (0844) 873 0203 and we will be happy to post one to you. Alternatively please come and say hello at the Travel Destinations stand in Hall 4 of the NEC at the Classic Motor Show between the 13th & 15th November.

The Classic Motor Show is all about bringing together people who share a passion for cars. Every year this traditional ‘season grand finale’ for the classic car scene attracts many tens of thousands of enthusiasts from all over the UK, Europe and even further away.

The show celebrates all ages, marques and models. The veteran, the vintage, the classic and the future classic, with a huge and diverse display of 1000 cars ranging from the most accessible popular classics through to the thoroughly outrageous and rare exotica. The Classic Motor Show brings together the whole motoring spectrum in this unique annual celebration of the car. Along with the huge car displays, the show hosts the biggest single gathering of UK companies and traders offering every conceivable product and service to the classic car owner/enthusiast plus some superb and unique show features.

To find out more about the Classic Motor Show or to obtain tickets visit www.necclassicmotorshow.com

Aston Martin Victorious at the Nurburgring

Aston Martin Racing claimed a sensational first, second and third at the ADAC 1000km of Nürburgring, 50 years on from Aston Martin’s 1959 win in the classic German endurance race with the DBR1. The 007 Gulf liveried LMP1 car of Jan Charouz (CZ), Tomáš Enge (CZ) and Stefan Mücke (DE) finished first, recording their second win of the season and fourth podium finish from four races.

The 009 car of Harold Primat (CH) and Darren Turner (GB) finished second. The third Aston Martin Racing entry of Chris Buncombe (GB), Stuart Hall (GB) and Miguel Ramos (PT) finished just behind 009, securing an all Aston Martin podium.

The trio of Aston Martins made a clean start to the 195 lap race which started at 12:30 local time. Mücke and Turner held first and second places respectively in their 007 and 009 LMP1 cars. Ramos in the 008 car quickly made up two places finishing eighth by the end of his first stint. Just under one hour into the race the Aston Martins stopped for fuel. Mücke and Turner remained in 007 and 009 to rejoin for double stints on their Michelin tyres, while Ramos handed the wheel of the 008 Aston Martin to British driver Buncombe who worked his way up to sixth.

At the next round of pit stops, Mücke and Turner were replaced by Charouz in the 007 and Primat in the 009. The 007 car stopped for slightly longer than usual to allow the team to fit a larger rear deck gurney to reduce oversteer on the car and improve handling. The 007 pit crew worked at lightning speed, changing the part in just over 10 seconds and 007 rejoined the race in first place. In 008 Buncombe remained in the Michelin-shod Aston Martin and moved up a further place to fifth before the end of his double stint. New to the car for this race, Buncombe adapted quickly to the Aston Martin and was soon on the pace of the leaders.

Just after 3pm local time with the race well underway and Aston Martin Racing’s main rivals suffering from mechanical issues, the cars pitted for the third time. Buncombe was in first, handing the reigns of 008 to fellow British driver Stuart Hall. Primat and Turner switched in 009 and the team performed the same change to the rear deck gurney on the 009 car, again with minimum disruption to the pit stop. In the 007 Aston Martin, Charouz remained behind the wheel, stopping for fuel only before continuing in first place.

After three hours and 100 laps the cars were running first, second and fourth. The team held its breath when Charouz suffered a spin in the 007 Aston Martin on lap 110 but the car was undamaged and he retained first position. By lap 112 Aston Martin was occupying the top three places with the order 007, 009 and 008 and this remained the same until just after the four hour mark when 009, on fresh tyres passed sister car 007 to take the lead.

By this time Czech driver Enge was in the 007, Turner was back behind the wheel of 009 and Hall remained in 008 to complete his double stint. At just after 5pm local time Hall returned 008 to the pits in third place and Buncombe took over for the second time, staying behind the wheel until the end of the race. Turner pitted shortly afterwards with Primat taking over for his second session in 009.

Enge pitted from first on lap 163 and German driver Mücke returned to the wheel of the 007 to the finish, taking the chequered flag at his home race. Pole sitter Mücke was officially the quickest man on track today, setting the fastest lap of the race with a time of 01min 44.125s.

All three Aston Martins ran trouble free for the duration of the race, stopping only for seven scheduled pit stops each. The result marks the team’s best achievement yet in the Le Mans Series says Team Principal, George Howard-Chappell: “Absolutely brilliant! I couldn’t have dreamt of a one, two, three. The result is a real tribute to the team, the drivers and the whole organisation. I would particularly like to thank Michelin for their support and their valued help. All round it is just fantastic and the flags will definitely be flying at the Aston Martin Racing headquarters in the UK tomorrow morning.”

Aston Martin Racing heads to Silverstone, UK for the fifth round of the Le Mans Series on 13 September 2009. The 007 Aston Martin will start the final round of the 2009 Le Mans Series at their home race with a seven point lead in the Teams Championship.

Drayson Racing Upgrades to LMP1

Drayson Racing To Launch Le Mans Prototype One (LMP1) Programme

Paul, Lord Drayson and Elspeth, Lady Drayson have proudly announced Drayson Racing’s move to the pinnacle of motorsports; the Le Mans Prototype One (LMP1) division. Drayson Racing will debut its British built Judd V10-powered Lola B09/60 racing car – commonly known as the “Lola Coupe” – in the 12th Annual Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, 22-26 September, 2009. The move signifies Drayson Racing’s serious motorsport intentions and focus on using the sport as a catalyst to advance environmental technologies.

Already boasting a strong overall operation allows Drayson Racing to continue with the same driver line-up and team management currently associated with the British-based team. Drivers Paul Drayson (London/Gloucestershire, UK) and two-time British GT Champion Jonny Cocker (Guisborough, Yorks, UK) will be joined by two-time Le Mans Series GT2 Champion Rob Bell (St Helens, UK) at the 1000 mile/10 hour, American Le Mans Series classic in September. Dale White (Bozeman, MT, USA) continues his role as team manager with oversight of the effort. The full GT2 team structure moves into LMP1 as Drayson’s originally published “world tour” continues as announced in January.

The move to the most technologically advanced sports car racing in the world today comes as the team gains momentum and wishes to take the next step in the sport. The top prototype category will open the organisation to a far wider set of choices in developing new technologies under the international rules for LMP1 race cars. Long supporters of the environmental movement in motorsports – and with Paul and Jonny having won the first-ever national victory in the UK for a bio-ethanol fuelled car -Drayson Racing will use the P1 platform to develop and advance new technologies for improved efficiency and performance. The working partnerships with both Lola Cars and Engine Developments Ltd – the parent company of Judd – will provide additional avenues for the evolution and testing of these technologies.

The progression into the LMP1 class will necessitate a number change for Drayson Racing. Long-associated with the 007 moniker in the United States and the 87 in Europe, the team will campaign the No. 88 in the remaining events this season. The car will be known as the No. 88 Drayson Racing Lola with Judd Power.

The Drayson entry signifies the first LMP1 class combination of Lola Coupe and Judd V10 to campaign in the American Le Mans Series. The chassis uses Lola’s decades of experience as Britain’s most successful racing chassis builder to provide an established, and quick, platform on which to compete. Judd’s GV5, 72-degree V10 is a proven performer and will run on second generation E10 racing fuel. The programme will continue its strong technical partner ties with Michelin Tyres and Motul Oil.

An initial shakedown run of the Lola-Judd will be held in the United Kingdom in the coming weeks. This test will act as a systems’ check prior to the car being shipped to the United States. Once stateside, the full Drayson Racing crew will develop the car further for its first showing at Road Atlanta. In addition to the Petit Le Mans premiere, the Drayson Racing prototype will take part in the American Le Mans Series finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on 10 October and the Asian Le Mans Series events at Okayama, Japan, 31 October and 1 November.

Drayson Racing will continue to run the No. 87 Aston Martin Vantage GT2 in the two remaining European Le Mans Series events (23 August at Nürburgring and 13 September at Silverstone). The 1000km of Silverstone will bring to conclusion two years developing the Vantage for GT2 competition. To-date, the team enjoys a career-best finish of seventh accomplished at the 1000km of Spa (Belgium) earlier this season.

Today’s announcement came as part of the popular internet and iTunes radio programme “Midweek Motorsports” with host John Hindhaugh. Archives of the show can be found at www.radiolemans.com.

Le Mans 2009 Photo Galleries

Don’t forget to take a look at our photo galleries from this year’s Le Mans 24 hours. Our resident photographer, David Davies, was again trackside to bring you close up action, whilst elsewhere our staff bring you a different view from the campsites.


David has been taking motorsport photos for years and is now a well recognised face behind the lens at Le Mans. This year a selection of David’s photos are exclusively available on this website getting you as close as possible to the action. His photos are available in our galleries or by clicking here.


We know that Le Mans has a unique atmosphere so we asked our staff to get out in the campsites and try to capture a feeling of what it is like to be part of Le Mans. Their photos are available in our galleries or by clicking here.


Remember that you can be a part of the Le Mans 24 hours & the Le Mans Classic in 2010. We are now open for pre-registration, so don’t miss out. Call us now on (0844) 873 0203 and we can assist you with your channel crossings, Le Mans tickets and camping/accommodation

Aston Martin goes back to the future

As will be the case in 2009, Aston Martin entered three factory cars in the 1959 race: for Stirling Moss/Jack Fairman, Roy Salvadori/Carroll Shelby and Paul Frère /Maurice Trintignant.

At the time Ferrari was the dominant force in endurance racing, so the Aston Martin team entered the race as underdogs and had to come up with a clever race strategy to defeat the Italian squad. It was decided that the Moss/Fairman car would act as a ‘hare’ to try and force the Ferrari team into an unsustainably quick pace, while the other Aston Martins would follow.

The tactic worked brilliantly, and at 4pm on Sunday 21 June 1959 the Salvadori/Shelby DBR1 crossed the finish line at Le Mans ahead of the sister car of Frère/Trintignant after 24 hours and 4347.9 kilometres of racing. The closest Ferrari, a privateer example in third, was a full 25 laps down.

While the race was a resounding success for Aston Martin and the DBR1, not everything went entirely to plan 50 years ago, as Salvadori remembered. “At the start we quickly got into the hunt and took the lead in the late evening,” he said. “Then we ran into a severe vibration problem. I made a pit stop but the trouble could not be diagnosed so I was sent off again to complete my stint. This cost us a lot of time and we had to make two more pit stops before the fault was found: a large chunk of tread had come off a rear tyre but due to the dark and the aerodynamic spats over the rear wheels this could not be seen.”

The number 5 Aston Martin DBR1 pitted in the night to have the offending tyre changed, and then it started gaining on the lead Ferrari. “We were faster than the Ferrari and catching it all the time,” added Salvadori. “When the Ferrari retired on Sunday morning, I received a ‘slow’ signal from the pits. But I slowed so much that I had to be speeded up again, as Paul Frère and Maurice Trintignant in the other DBR1 were catching us up!”

A one-two at Le Mans was just one of the high points of a tremendous season for Aston Martin, in which the company also won the World Sportscar Championship.

Aston Martin returns to the top class at Le Mans 50 years later as the underdog once more, but the team is hoping to take the fight to the mighty diesel-powered opposition. These days, there are three drivers to every car as opposed to two in the DBR1’s day, but according to Salvadori a strong working relationship between team mates is still an essential ingredient to success.

“Carroll and I were the ideal partnership,” he said. “We were chosen together because we were the same height and we could both put our left foot between the brake and clutch pedals. We were comfortable together and the team thought that it was a good partnership. At Le Mans back in 1959 we only did one day of practice, or seven laps each.”

The Aston Martin Racing team is preparing for Le Mans this year through participation in the Le Mans Series, which has so far resulted in a win at Barcelona and a podium in Spa. With no Le Mans test day this year, all the teams will have limited running at La Sarthe before embarking on the endurance classic on June 13 at 3pm local time.

Last year’s pole time at Le Mans was 3m18.513; in 1959 the winning DBR1 was set a target lap time of around 4m20s, whereas the fastest lap (set by Moss) was 4m01s. According to the team’s strategy, the Salvadori/Shelby crew concentrated on reliability by keeping their car relatively unstressed and adopting a conservative rev limit.

By the very end of the 1959 race, with a huge margin over the third-placed competitor, the leading Aston Martins could afford to lap at around 4m50s. By contrast, Le Mans these days is more like a series of sprint races punctuated by pit stops – with the race laps not hugely dissimilar to the qualifying laps.

Shelby said: “The DBR1 was a very good handling car but slower down the straight. However, we were definitely superior to the others in terms of handling. And you always felt safe in the car – you always wanted to drive the Aston. I never heard a driver criticise it. At the end, I couldn’t believe we’d won Le Mans because we’d dreamed of it for so long. To win at Le Mans at last was the epitome. Aston Martin was like a personal family and I was very happy for the team.”

The odds are stacked against Aston Martin this year, just as they were in 1959 but Le Mans is a race where miracles can still happen. Just as was the case 50 years ago, winning the Le Mans 24 Hours is not simply a question of having the quickest car or the best-funded team – and that is one of the very few things that has never changed at the Circuit de La Sarthe.

The Aston Martin Racing team is now completing its final preparations for the epic race, hoping for the smallest chance that history might repeat itself. Whatever the outcome, just getting to the end of what is arguably the world’s toughest race is a human and mechanical triumph in itself.

Le Mans Series Spa Report

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.

An Aston Martin perspective:
ASTON MARTIN RACING TRIUMPHS OVER ADVERSITY FOR SPA PODIUM

The 007 Aston Martin Racing LMP1 car of Jan Charouz (CZ), Tomas Enge (CZ) and Stefan Mücke (GER) has finished on the podium of the Spa 1000 kilometres in Belgium following a magnificent fightback after the team started from the back of the grid.
The 007 crew failed to set a qualifying time on Saturday as the result of a mechanical problem, which saw the Aston Martin Racing mechanics work late into the night to replace the car’s engine in readiness for today’s six-hour race.

Nonetheless a superlative performance from all three drivers throughout an incident-packed race, plus a well-deserved fifth place for the sister 009 car, has resulted in Aston Martin Racing adding to its Le Mans Series team points total following victory at the opening round in Barcelona last month. This was despite strong opposition from diesel-powered rivals that turned out to have a significant performance advantage on the seven-kilometre Spa circuit, located in the heart of the Ardennes Mountains. Although this region of Belgium is noted for its changeable weather, conditions remained warm and dry for the 143-lap race. Mücke started the race at 12:50 in the 007 car from the back of the grid, and soon demonstrated an impressive pace coupled with the incisive ability to cut through traffic. Within an hour he had already moved into the top five behind the 009 car. However, the German did not have an entirely trouble-free stint: a collision with another competitor who had outbraked himself damaged the nose of the 007 Aston Martin, affecting the car’s handling.

“The damage meant that the underside of the nose was actually moving, which made the handling totally nervous and unpredictable,” reported Mücke. “But to come back from the problem of not being able to qualify yesterday and surviving some interesting moments during the race only makes this podium result all the more satisfying. What is clear is that our car is very competitive when we have a clean run, as our ability to move through the traffic showed.” Jan Charouz – who formed part of the victorious 007 crew at Barcelona – then took over for the second stint, which was characterised by several incidents, accidents and safety car periods. Charouz then handed the car over to his Czech compatriot Tomas Enge after a tricky double stint on the notoriously complex Spa-Francorchamps circuit. During Charouz’s stint the 007 car’s nose was changed in order to rectify a problem with the lights, and it was then that the crack in the underside that had affected Mücke was discovered.

“Conditions were really difficult,” reported Charouz, who did not put a foot wrong throughout his long stint. “This is one of the most challenging circuits in the world, and the number of people going off proved the point. I struggled a little bit with the set-up, but in the end this result here has certainly gone beyond our expectations at the start of the weekend so we are very happy.” Enge got into the car with two hours to go when it was running in fourth, but he was able to close up to the leaders under yet another lengthy safety car period. He emerged in third place with around 20 minutes of racing left, meaning that he had to strike a delicate compromise between guaranteeing a strong finish for the team and attempting to secure a podium place against strong opposition that was right behind him.

“There was some pressure on me in those final laps, for sure,” reflected Enge at the finish. “Our instructions were very clear: with Le Mans so close we did not want to take any risks with the cars. However, I also really wanted to be on the podium. So I pushed as hard as I could while keeping a certain safety margin, and thankfully it had the right result. I said from the start that I believed we could put the difficulties we experienced during qualifying behind us with some good teamwork and this was proved to be the case today. It just goes to show the strength of our team.” Darren Turner started the race from third on the grid in the 009 car but the Englishman had a puncture at the first corner after he was hit by another competitor. He said: “It was just one of those things: a racing incident. Nobody was at fault, but it was unfortunate that we had to complete the first lap with a puncture. What helped us was the fact that a safety car came out, so we lost track position but didn’t go a lap down.”

After the problem was rectified Turner was able to make impressive progress through the field, climbing as high as third place throughout a double stint that lasted for nearly two hours. He subsequently handed over to Portugal’s Miguel Ramos, who had to battle a serious vibration throughout his own double stint. “I’m not sure what the problem was but the effect was dramatic,” said Ramos. “The vibration was so bad that it was hard to concentrate on the braking zones sometimes as I could not see them properly. Under those circumstances it was just a question of bringing the car home safely, and I’m pleased that we managed to do that.”

Swiss driver Harold Primat drove the car for the final and longest stint totalling over two hours. He dropped a bit of time with a spin in the closing stages after being tagged by another competitor. Thankfully this had no lasting consequences and the team was able to seal its first double points finish in the Le Mans Series. Primat said: “This was the longest stint I have ever done in the car and I was feeling a bit tired by the end of it. Above all I was aiming for consistency, and I think I managed to do this. It was just a pity that somebody hit me at the end and I had a spin; there was nothing I could do. It took me a little while to get going again, and maybe without that we could have taken fourth place. But fifth is still a good result and I think we all worked well together today. ”

The next competitive outing for the Aston Martin Racing team will be its biggest challenge of the year: the daunting Le Mans 24 Hours itself, on June 13-14. Aston Martin Racing Team Principal George Howard-Chappell concluded: “I’m extremely pleased to get both cars home in one piece this close to Le Mans. It was an excellent result for the 007 crew, full credit to the team for working so hard to deal with what was a tough weekend.”