The 2010 LMS season is now over!
Peugeot and ORECA over the moon
The 2010 season is now over and the winners will party tonight to celebrate their titles. In the end, Team ORECA Matmut and Peugeot, as a car-manufacturer, came away with everything, and Audi with nothing. Stéphane Sarrazin started the 1,000Km of Silverstone as title favorite and duly ended it as champion for the second time.
Nicolas Minassian and Anthony Davidson snatched a strong overall victory while Strakka Racing took a brilliant victory in the LMP2 class. Jody Firth and Warren Hughes brought a third trophy home this weekend thanks to FLM, and AF Corse Ferrari secured their second win of the season.
Despite a few rain drops, the track has remained dry the whole race and no safety-car period disturbed the course of the race.
1-2 PEUGEOT IN THE LM P1 CLASS
The finale at Silverstone and first race of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, had everything to produce a nail-biting race, chiefly because the duel between Audi and Peugeot factory teams. Unfortunately, the duel was over with 15 laps in the race when polesitter Allan McNish stopped the # 7 Audi R15 TDI aside the track and jumped from the car and… walked away. Electronic gremlins put an early end to the long awaited face to face and to the hopes of teams’ title. After the triumph at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the front row snatched yesterday, Audi failed to win, but Timo Bernhard and Dindo Capello climbed on the podium as they finished third.
Team Peugeot Total performed a feat with the Peugeot 908 HDi-FAP diesel sportscar: at the Autosport 1000-kilometre race at Silverstone, the French team - clinching a second victory this season - secured also the Car-manufacturer’s title in the Le Mans Series. Anthony Davidson and Nicolas Minassian had a flawless race for their home race – Nic’ has been living in England for years – and the victory has a taste of relief after the disaster at Le Mans last June. The French factory will tackle the following Intercontinental Le Mans Cup race with more confidence now.
Joy was also obvious on Team ORECA Matmut’s faces as Nicolas Lapierre and Stéphane Sarrazin finished second with their Peugeot 908 HDi-FAP, but above all because the French team clinched the 2010 Teams’ title. Lady luck has not been very often to their side and Hugues de Chaunac, owner and team-manager, finally got a reward in the LMP1 class after many years of hard work and commitment in sportscar racing.
Another smiling face in the paddock was Peugeot works driver Stéphane Sarrazin who won the title for the second time. If the French driver hasn’t clinched the title in Hungary, only teammate Nicolas Lapierre could have deprived him from the title, and… they now share the same car, which they didn’t at Spa! Stéphane was moved to tears, but explained: “I am so happy. With Nico (Lapierre) we were a good team and we didn’t make any mistake. The car worked perfectly and the whole team did a great job.”
Thanks to respectively fifth and sixth places, Team Signature Plus finished as the runner-up in the title’s chase and Rebellion Racing ended third after the #7 Audi retired.
STRAKKA RACING RULED THE LM P2 AND RML CHAMPION
Another emphatic win for Strakka in LM P2, beating Quifel ASM into second place by almost exactly a minute after a great fight. Strakka Racing took LMP2 pole yesterday with a awesome run from Danny Watts who notched up all the poles this season. Despite a one-second stop & go penalty and a contact with another competitor, Jonny Kane, Nick Leventis and Danny Watts ruled the class. Car? Drivers? Tyres? Probably a good combination of the three components. Despite three victories – one overall in Hungary, the British team failed to clinch the titles because of two retirements. They may not have won either championship, but they did dominate the 2010 season.
The Strakka Racing No. 42 HPD won the Michelin Green X Challenge today by going the farthest, the fastest, with the least environmental impact, whereas #24 OAK Racing Pescarolo-Judd clinched the whole-season trophy and an invitation to the next 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The 2009 LMP2 champions lost their crown despite finishing second today. They have been among the main contenders of the class in 2010, but despite a second place overall in Hungary, two retirements put an early end to their chances of clinching their second title in a row. OAK Racing climbed once again on the third step of the podium, courtesy, this time of Guillaume Moreau and Richard Hein. Had they kept their eggs in one basket they’d be looking at title, but splitting results between two cars has unfortunately weakened their chances.
RML didn’t climb on the podium today and finished fourth: the three drivers had to stay away from trouble to clinch the title. Drivers’ and Teams’ titles come three years after the team last took the Le Mans Series crown, and has followed on straight after a hugely difficult season in 2009. This couldn’t be a better response to those bitterly disappointing months, and a just reward for the enormous effort and hard work put into the sportscar program by all the guys. It also comes just a few months after a return to form in the Le Mans 24 Hours, when Mike, Tommy and Andy Wallace took third.
DAMS AND LARBRE COMPÉTITION SHONE
DAMS or HopePole Vision Racing? With a two-point gap, the #43 DAMS Formula Le Mans clinched the title, as well as Andrea Barlesi and Gary Chalandon. DAMS sister car won the race today, courtesy of Jody Firth and Warren Hughes and HopePole Vision Racing couldn’t do better than second at Silvertone.
For the very first time in the Le Mans Series, a driver clinched a third title in a row and in the same LMGT1 class but with two different cars. After two titles with a Corvette, Patrice Goueslard swapped to a Saleen and Larbre Compétition, which secured the “Teams” title as well. If the team and drivers had very few rivals in the class this season, Patrice Goueslard and Gabriele Gardel deserved the title as they took the checkered flag five times. Icing on the cake: the team also won the class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
FERRARI WON THE BATTLE, BUT PORSCHE WON THE WAR
The Porsche 911 GT3 RSR has been the most successful GT racer of the season in the Le Mans Series. After taking three wins, Porsche works drivers Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz travel as points’ leaders to Silverstone: they needed a single point to clinch the title. The duet didn’t take any risk and finished fifth, far enough to secure their second consecutive title.
AF Corse’s Gianmaria Bruni and Jaime Melo brought the #96 Ferrari F430 GTC home in a convincing first place in the highly competitive LMGT2 class. The win marks its return to the Le Mans Series top step of the podium for the first time since Portimao in July. The pair couldn’t be in Hungary because they had other commitments and so lost their chances to clinch the title.
The Prospeed Porsche car has topped the time sheets in the first practice session this weekend and was a strong second, but the pressure and intensity of the field meant that nothing was assured until the checkered flag fell, because of a gap of a few seconds between the Porsche and third place finisher and polesitter JMW Motorsport Aston Martin.
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