Peugeot continued their good form with victory in the Autosport 6 Hours of Silverstone this weekend. The event marked the 4th of 5 rounds for the Le Mans Series and the 4th of 6 Rounds of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC).
After winning the Spa 1000 km and the Imola 6 Hours Peugeot had to fight hard around the new look Silverstone circuit in front of an estimated crowd of 40,000 spectators. After a continuous battle with the No. 1 Audi, the No. 7 Peugeot took the chequered flag first after a solid race that showed reliability, speed and good fortune.
Peugeot & Audi battle at Silverstone
Audi and Peugeot were pushing each other right from the start, even after an over excited Allan McNish spun his Audi on the formation lap. In the first couple of hours, the lead changed several times as Sébastien Bourdais, who started from pole, tried to fend off Allan McNish’s attacks in the No. 2 R18. McNish successfully passed Bourdais on the start/finish straight with little room to spare between the Peugeot and the pit wall, but he was then re-passed by the Peugeot and then had to come in for a long pit stop after contact with another Ferrari. Damage was also sustained to the No. 8 Peugeot driven by Franck Montagny who lost 8 laps to the leaders after clipping a Formula Le Mans car and hitting the tyre wall. This left the No. 1 Audi and the No. 7 Peugeot to battle for the overall win.
The 2 cars continued their motoring duel for the majority of the race constantly passing and then re-passing each other. In the Peugeot team Bourdais was showing dynamic driving skills, while Marcel Fässler was in flying form for Audi. After four hours’ racing they were still running wheel to wheel. The excitement only concluded when the Audi was forced in to an extended pit stop at the start of the fifth hour to have some bodywork replaced. This left the No. 7 Peugeot 908 to comfortably preserve its lead and score Peugeot’s third win in the Le Mans Series this year.
Peugeot lead at Silverstone
Olivier Quesnel, Peugeot Sport Team Principal said “We arrived at Silverstone with the aim of finishing, and if possible fighting for victory. We did the opposite, in fact. We had a battle on our hands at the start of the race and towards the end we just kept it together and brought it home to the flag. It’s a great team victory.”
Behind the front two the Oak Racing Pescarolo-Judd achieved a great result finishing third in LMP1 (first of the petrol powered cars) in front of the No. 13 Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyota (the first of the cars entered in the Le Mans Series). These two cars fought hard right to the end of the race for third place on the podium. Oak Racing managed to hold on for a good result after quite a difficult season. Rebellion Racing’s fourth place has put it in front of the Pescarolo team , who finished fifth, in the Le Mans Series title chase. The outcome of the Le Mans Series will be decided between these two teams at Estoril at the end of the month, as Peugeot and Audi continue to concentrate on the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup at Petit Le Mans.
Oak Racing at Silverstone
The 2011 season is turning out to be an almost perfect one for Greaves Motorsport in the LMP2 category. After their victories at Paul Ricard and then last time out at Imola, in addition to their success in the Le Mans 24 Hours, the British team won the class again on home soil. They were at the front of the field for the first half of the race, until it was overtaken by the Boutsen Energy Racing Oreca Nissan. However, the latter hit trouble soon after taking the lead and had to stop for a battery change. This allowed the British team to get back in front and the Greaves Motorsport team brought the car home to the chequered flag. This victory means that Greaves Motorsport is very close to winning the LMP2 Le Mans Series title. They need just a single point at Estoril in two weeks to take the trophy.
AF Corse on the GTE Pro Podium
AF Corse drove an almost perfect race at Silverstone, scoring its third victory in the LMGTE Pro class and in doing so winning the Le Mans Series class title. After a second place at Paul Ricard and its subsequent wins at Spa and Imola, the AF Corse team have had an excellent season. Italian drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Gianmaria Bruni fought off a tough challenge from their rivals at Silverstone, but once their F458 Italia GTC took the lead it stayed there apart from a few brief moments during pit stops. They ended the race having made one less pit stop than its nearest challengers; the similar No. 59 Luxury Racing Ferrari F458 Italia GTC and the consistent No. 77 Felbermayr-Proton Porsche 997. Gianmaria Bruni, driver of the class winning Ferrari stated afterwards “We made a cautious start and then gained confidence as we racked up the laps. We knew we could finish with one pit stop less than our rivals. We played on this strategy and saved fuel. The result was victory and the title. It’s been a great year with the whole team. I’m really delighted.”
IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche
The IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche 997 car driven by Raymond Narac and Nicolas Armindo took the spoils in the LMGTE Am class. The No. 67 car took the lead in the category in the second hour and pushed on and on until the end of the sixth hour. The French duo had nothing to fear from their rivals thanks to a reliable and fast car. Ferrari scored a double in GTE Pro and Porsche in GTE Am as Proton Competition came home in second place in their Porsche 997. The No. 61 AF Corse Ferrari F430 GT, also a Le Mans Series title contender, could only manage fifth place. Nicolas Armindo spoke to the press after the race saying “We didn’t make any mistakes and that’s the essential thing. I pushed every lap. I really gave my very best. We were able to spare the car and it’s a good result for the championship. But it won’t be over till the flag falls in the last race!”
Racing at Silverstone in the Le Mans Series
The Le Mans Series moves on the Estoril circuit in Portugal for the last race in the season (23rd – 25th September).
The ILMC next features at Road Atlanta for the Petit Le Mans race (29th September – 1st October) before finishing at Zuhai in China (11th – 13th November).
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Photos courtesy of DPPI