Imola 6 hours: Round-up & quotes

Peugeot Sport Total scores a double in the Imola 6 Hours

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By Olivier Ferret

4 July 2011 - 12:00
Imola 6 hours: Round-up & (...)

Peugeot Sport Total scored a double in the Imola 6 Hours in the third round of the 2011 Le Mans Series repeating their Spa feat. Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Bourdais in the no.7 Peugeot 908 took the flag in front of Stéphane Sarrazin and Franck Montagny in the no.8 Peugeot 908. Marcel Fässler and Timo Bernhard completed the podium in the no. 1 Audi R18 TDI. In LM P1, the Pescarolo Team and Rebellion Racing, on level pegging, still have everything to fight for in the last two events of the Le Mans Series at Silverstone and Estoril. The other wins went to Greaves Motorsport in LM P2, AF Corse in LM GTE Pro, IMSA Performance Matmut in LME GTE Am and JMB Racing in FLM.

In many cases it was a question of forgetting Le Mans at the Autodrome Enzo e Dino Ferrari since the start of practice on Friday. The Sarthe event had been a triumph for some and a race to forget for others so everybody was determined to concentrate on the Imola 6 Hours.

Anthony Davidson’s pole in no.7 helped Peugeot to put its Sarthe setback behind it. It was the same thing at BMW Motorsport thanks to Jörg Müller in the no. 55 BMW M3. Mathias Beche (TDS Racing) in LM P2 and Patrick Long (Proton Competition) in LM GTE Am set the quickest times. None of the Le Mans winners set the quickest times in any of the categories!

During the six-hour event the drivers had to cope with non-stop traffic, but there were no major accidents to upset the unfolding of the race.

LM P1: Peugeot repeats its Spa double

Peugeot, Audi, Peugeot, Audi. The four cars got away without problems. Bourdais, Fässler, Montagny and McNish took only four laps to catch the slowest LM GTEs. The first three were covered by under four seconds until the first refuelling stops while McNish gradually fell back.

In the petrol-engined camp, Guillaume Moreau (Oak Racing, Oak Pescarolo – Judd) managed to hang on to the lead before being overtaken by the two Lola B10/60-Toyota coupes of Rebellion Racing.

The two Peugeot 908s seem to enjoy better fuel consumption that the Audi R18 TDIs, and spend around two laps more on the track per stint compared to their German rivals between refuelling stops.

No. 8 passed n°7 during the second round of refuelling stops taking advantage of the fact that Bourdais overshot his pit which slowed Davidson’s departure. The Englishman, came out ten seconds behind, and pushed hard to catch Sarrazin. When they were covered by under two seconds the drivers were ordered not to attack.

After the third refuelling stops, Davidson came out in front of his team-mate. A few minutes later the Brit had a slight coming-together with Tom Kristensen who he was lapping, which was not the object of an investigation by Race Control.

Peugeot Sport had a scare with a puncture on each car but they were quicker than their rivals, and Sébastien Bourdais set the fastest lap in no. 7 in the final hour in 1m 33.112s, and saw the flag with a minute in hand over its sister car, no. 8, and a lap over the Audi R18 TDIs with no. 1 leading home no. 2. Rebellion Racing’s two Lola B10/60-Toyota coupes finished in fifth and sixth places leading the petrol-engined cars with no. 12 in front of no. 13 while the Pescarolo Team was seventh. For the first time the Swiss outfit was the highest placed of the teams entered in the Le Mans Series.

LM P2: Greaves Motorsport inherits victory from TDS Racing

Dominik Kraihamer (no.45 Boutsen Energy Racing, Oreca 03 – Nissan) who started in second place ended up in the gravel trap after nineteen minutes, and Jody Firth (no. 46 TDS Racing, Oreca 03 – Nissan) pulled away in the lead. Mathias Beche and Pierre Thiriet consolidated this position for over four hours. But the prototype entered by TDS Racing spent over twenty minutes in its pit during the fifth hour losing all hopes of victory.

The Level 5 Motorsports no. 33 Lola Coupé – HPD inherited the lead and then had to stop with under twenty minutes to go to the finish. As at Le Mans, the no. 41 Greaves Motorsport Zytek Z11SN – Nissan driven by Karim Ojjeh, Tom Kimber-Smith and Olivier Lombard snatched victory in front of the 26 Oreca 03 – Nissan entered by Signatech – Nissan with Franck Mailleux, Lucas Ordonez and Soheil Ayari at the wheel, and the Level 5 Motorsports Lola .

FLM : JMB Racing deprives Pegasus Racing of a triple

In FLM, the race was the scene of a no-holds-barred battle from flag to flag. Pegasus Racing, Genoa Racing, Hope Racing and JMB Racing swapped first place on numerous occasions. All four led for at least one lap in the final hour. At the finish, JMB Racing with Chapman Ducotte, Nicolas Marroc and Kyle Marcelli emerged victorious from Mirco Schultis, Patrick Simon and Julien Schell (Pegasus Racing) and Luca Moro, Zhang Shanqi and Tor Graves (Hope Racing).

LM GTE Pro: AF Corse scores a home victory!

The BMW Motorsport cars were very much at home on this atypical circuit and Jörg Müller and Dirk Werner dominated the early stages of the race. Then they were caught by the two AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italias, first by Gianmaria Bruni / Giancarlo Fisichella followed by Jaime Melo / Toni Vilander. AF Corse stopped only five times and gained a crucial advnatge in the last hour over the no. 55 BMW that had to come in on seven occasions. Toni Vilander/Jaime Melo won from their team-mates Giancarlo Fisichella/Gianmaria Bruni and Jörg Müller/Augusto Farfus (no. 55 BMW M3).

LM GTE Am: IMSA Performance Matmut wins by a nose!

Patrick Long (no. 63 Proton Compétition, Porsche 911 RSR n°63) set pole with a considerable advance over his rivals, and he reaffirmed his superior speed early on. But Raymond Narac and Nicolas Armindo (no. 67 IMSA Performance Matmut, Porsche 911 RSR), who complemented each other perfectly, managed to take the lead. After Gianluca Roda’s and Christian Ried’s stints, Long got back in the car for a final charge and fought back to within less than a second of Narac. He had to pit with under 3 minters to go to the flag to avoid running out of fuel, and had to make do with second place! The Larbre Competition Corvette C6-ZR1 driven by Patrick Bornhauser, Julien Canal and Gabriele Gardel completed the podium.

Michelin Green X Challenge: Peugeot beats two Audis

The no. 8 Peugeot 908 that finished second at Imola won the Michelin Green X Challenge calculated on a Thermal Efficiency Index. Second was the no. 1 Audi R18 TDI in front of the no. 2 Audi. In the GTE catagories, the no. 51 Ferrari F458 Italia beat the no. 76 Porsche 911 RSR.

Quotes

Sebastien Bourdais (no. 7 Peugeot 908): “It was a great race for Peugeot and for our driver line-up. I was able to eke out a lead and Anthony carried on the good work. But it was a fairly-flowing kind of race. We only had one scare when a GT battling with an FLM hit a rim on our car. At the end I was able to lift off a little to bring the car home. I’m very happy to win this trophy.”

Anthony Davidson (no. 7 Peugeot 908): “During my triple stint I had to concentrate on nursing my tyres. The race was complicated with forty-nine cars on such a short, narrow track, but there weren’t too many problems. The 908 had fantastic balance, and was very quick in these conditions and that’s why we won today. This victory gives us a good lead in the ILMC.”

Andrea Bellicchi (no. 13 Lola B10/60-Toyota coupe): “We fought from start to finish to be the first of the petrol-engined squad as in our citatory there are several equally-matched cars. The car ran perfectly and was very reliable.”

Jean-Christophe Boullion (no. 13 Lola B10/60-Toyota coupe): “We can be proud of the work accomplished since the start of the year. We haven’t had any problems during all the races and the performance has kept improving. The whole team deserves this result.”

Karim Ojjeh no. 41 Zytek Z11-Nissan): “The key to our victories is our steadiness. We behave like an endurance team! It’s the proof that when you have a good package, you can win!”

Jaime Melo (no. 71 Ferrari F458 Italia): “It was a very difficult race. The level of competition is higher and higher. The car was very consistent and the Michelin tyres worked perfectly in these conditions. AF Corse did a great job and used a perfect strategy. We weren’t the quickest this weekend, and we worked with the race in mind. It’s very motivating for the rest of the season.”

Nicolas Armindo (no. 67 Porsche 911 RSR): “We knew it would be very close. We followed the end of the race and the magnificent duel with Patrick Long. Bravo to Raymond Narac who managed to set exceptional times in the closing stages, while saving enough petrol to last to the flag. It’s a super result as our opponents were very quick.”

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