Series season opener race report
Paul Ricard HTTT
- Henri Pescarolo on top of the world
- Team returns to LMS and takes the win
Pescarolo wins the Le Castellet 6 Hours on his return to the Le Mans Series
Henri Pescarolo’s team made a triumphant comeback to endurance racing by winning on its first outing in 2011. Christophe Tinseau, Julien Jousse and Emmanuel Collard 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 , Felbermayr‐Proton and Pegasus Racing carried off the spoils in the other categories.
Photo by: DPPI
Rebellion Racing in trouble at the start of the race
On its return to racing after a year's absence, Pescarolo Racing couldn't have hoped for a better result. After 6 hours trouble-free racing without the slightest reliability problems on the no. 16 Pescarolo-Judd, the Sarthe-based squad scored a triumphant victory in the Le Castellet 6 Hours.
Rebellion Racing made a great start to the race, 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 door fixation glitch slowed Boullion-Belicchi in no. 13. The 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 ran into teething trouble and soon fell back from the leaders.
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 flag
I wasn't expecting such a good result.
The Oreca 03s dominate the opening hours
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 took the lead, but as the final hour of the race approached, the very consistent Zytek Z11SN-Nissan entered by Greaves Motorsport and driven by Ojjeh-Chalandon-Kimber-Smith hit the front, and the British car went on to a comfortable win as well as finishing third overall.
The AF Corse Ferrari leads in LM 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. 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 came out on top!
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.
Leadership changes in Formula Le Mans
In Formula Le Mans, Neil Garner Motorsport dominated the first half of the race before Pegasus Racing took up the running. The French team then battled with Genoa Racing, winners of the category in the recent Sebring 12 Hours.
Pescarolo Racing wins on its return
The 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.
Photo by: DPPI
Greaves Motorsport wins in LM P2
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.
LM GTE Pro: JMW Motorsport beats AF Corse
In the LM GTE pro category the British-entered JMW Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia beat the AF Corse F458 Italia. Rob Bell came out on top despite a last-gasp sprint by Bruni. Pescarolo wins the Le Castellet 6 Hours on his return to the Le Mans Series
Porsche wins 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 won by ninety seconds from the AF Corse and Kessel Racing Ferraris.
Pegasus Racing beats Genoa racing to victory in FLM
In Formula Le Mans, there was a leadership change in the closing minutes of the race. Thanks to one less pit stop Pegasus Racing took the lead from Genoa Racing and saw the flag with 18 seconds in hand.
Reward for IMSA Performance Matmut
Despite a difficult start to the race, the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR driven by Raymond Narac and Nicolas Armindo finished the event in sixth place in LM GTE Am. In addition, the French team won the Michelin Green X Challenge for the car that combined the best performance with the lowest fuel consumption.
We're delighted to have won after a great scrap out on the track.
Emmanuel Collard (no. 16 Pescarolo-Judd, overall and LM P1 winner) "It's a great result after a year off racing. But I'm rather surprised with this performance. The car was perfect in terms of reliability and speed."
Henri Pescarolo (Pescarolo Team's team principal and winner overall and in LM P1): "It's better than a dream. We haven't raced for over a year. The last time was in China in 2009 and we won. On our comeback we've won again! It's incredible! I was delighted to see Manu (Collard) and Jean-Christophe (Boullion) battling out on the track, and not just because they were team-mates and Le Mans Series Champions with me!"
Jean-Christophe Boullion (No. 13 Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyota, 2nd in LM P1 and overall): "It's a pity we had that door problem at the start of the race. Today, the car's setup was much better. I enjoyed driving it and it was very quick. My scrap with Manu was also great fun!"
Gary Chalandon (no. 41 Greaves Motorsport Zytek, LM P2 winner): "We've made a fantastic start to our season; I wasn't expecting such a good result. I've got two great team-mates Karim (Ojjeh) and Tom (Kimber-Smith) who helped me and made a big contribution to this result."
Rob Bell (No. 66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari 458 F Italia, LM GTE Pro winner): We're delighted to have won after a great scrap out on the track. I knew that the no. 51 AF Corse car still had another pit stop to make, but I had an opportunity to overtake it which I grabbed with both hands! This win is a great reward. My thanks to the team and to Dunlop, which did a huge job before the start of the season."
Christian Ried (No. 88 Team Felbermayr-Proton Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, winner LM GTE Am): "The car was perfect and everybody did an incredible job. But we're not over the moon as we're disappointed that our sister car did not finish in LM GTE Pro."
Julien Schell (No. 95 FLM-Oreca 09, winner in Formula Le Mans): "We're pleased to be at the finish of the race and in first place, what's more! We were off the pace in practice and we managed to improve the car's performance for the race. We were consistent and it paid off!"