Pescarolo win the 1st Round of the Le Mans Series

Pescarolo wins the 6 Hours of Le Castellet on his return to the Le Mans Series

Henri Pescarolo’s team made a triumphant return to endurance racing by winning on its first outing in 2011. Emmanuel Collard, Christophe Tinseau and Julien Jousse took first place in the event on the Paul Ricard HTTT circuit. Greaves Motorsport won the LM P2 category and finished on the third step of the overall podium. JMW Motorsport (GTE Pro), Felbermayr-Proton (GTE Am) and Pegasus Racing (FLM) carried off the spoils in the other categories.

Not a great start
The race had got off to a chaotic start. After 2 cars spun on the warm up lap the safety/pace car stayed on the track for an extra lap. However, the lights still went green as the pack approached the line. At the front of the grid the prototypes halted behind the safety car, but the GTE cars behind were accelerating to race speed. The result saw several cars make contact and more than one were sent spinning across the track.

As the smoke and debris settled it was clear that the Porsche challenge had been ruined. The Porsches of Felbermayr- Proton, IMSA Performance Matmut, and ProSpeed Competition were immediately retired without ever crossing the start line. The Aston Martin Vantage and the second IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche limped back to the pit with significant damage.

Pescarolo Team start from last but finish first
Rebellion Racing made a great start to the race, once the safety car pulled in, and Neel Jani took full advantage of the pole position he bagged on Saturday to hit the front when light went green. However, before the end of the first hour both Lola-Toyotas had to pit. In no.12 Jani-Prost had a problem with the pressure in the gearbox, and a faulty door catch slowed Boullion-Belicchi in no.13. A puncture suffered by the Quifel-ASM Team’s Zytek 09SC, followed by a long pit stop, dropped the car back down the time sheets. The Aston Martin Racing AMR-ONE, using this race as a competitive testing session, ran into teething trouble and soon fell back from the leaders as modifications were tried and tested.

The Pescarolo-Judd that started from the back of the grid fought its way up through the field lap after lap, and took the lead as its rivals ran into problems. From then on the Pescarolo ran like clockwork and Christophe Tinseau, then Julien Jousse and Emmanuel Collard took it in turns to lead the race until the chequered flag. T he Pescarolo Racing squad knew it was on its way to victory in the last hour of the race. It was a triumphant return after almost 18-months’ absence. Thanks to the reliability of the Pescarolo-Judd and the speed of its drivers, Henri Pescarolo’s team scored a brilliant victory on its return to the Le Mans Series.

A British Win in LMP2
In LM P2, the TDS Racing and Boutsen Energy Racing Oreca 03-Nissans made a great start and led the category until they hit mechanical glitches. The Strakka Racing HPD ARX-01d then made the running despite their engines obvious lack of power on the straight, but as the final hour of the race approached, the very consistent Zytek Z11SN-Nissan entered by Greaves Motorsport hit the front, and the British car went on to a comfortable win as well as finishing third overall. The Greaves Motorsport Zytek-Nissan was rewarded for its consistency at the end of the race. Karim Ojjeh, Gary Chalandon and Tom Kimber-Smith finished with a comfortable lead over the Pecom Racing Lola-Judd. The British team also took the third step of the podium behind the victorious Pescarolo-Judd and the Lola-Toyota.

Ferrari versus Ferrari in GTE Pro
In LM GTE Pro, the no. 51 AF Corse entered Ferrari, which was the hot favourite with its driver line-up of Giancarlo Fisichella and Gianmaria Bruni, led for most of the race, and got into the top ten in the overall classification at the two-third distance mark. But when the final hour began, it became involved in a no holds barred scrap with the JMW Motorsport F458 Italia driven by Brit Rob Bell, who thanks to a great passing manoeuvre and an unfortunate pit stop strategy by AF Corse, came out on top! Another British winner!

Porsche fights off Ferrari in LM GTE Am
The LM GTE Am entries consisted mainly of Ferrari F430 GTs. However, the Felbermayr-Proton Team’s Porsche 911 GT3 RSR proved more than a match for its rivals from Maranello, and quickly went into the lead in the category. Christian Ried, Horst Felbermayr Sr and Jr drove an impeccable race and finished ninety seconds in front of the CRS Racing and AF Corse Ferraris.

Pegasus Racing wins in Formula Le Mans
In Formula Le Mans, the Neil Garner Motorsport car dominated the first half of the race before Pegasus Racing took up the running. The French team then battled hard with Genoa Racing, winners of the category in the recent Sebring 12 Hours, before claiming the victory by just 18 seconds.

Le Mans Series Official Agency

The next round of the Le Mans Series (also an ILMC Race) will take place at Spa Francorchamps, Belgium form the 5th – 7th May. We have a small number of travel, ticket and accommodation offers available for this race. Click hereor call 0844 873 0203 for more details or to reserve your space.
Ticket offers are also available for all rounds of the Le Mans Series for 2011. Click here for further details.

All photos: DPPI