Simon Pagenaud and Sebastien Bourdais delivered Peugeot the 2011 AUTOSPORT 6 Hours of Silverstone crown after a race-long fight with the #1 Audi.
The polesitting 908 was in contention for victory throughout the race, as accidents, traffic and damage proved decisive in another engrossing instalment of the Peugeot/Audi battle.
The race swung several times in a breathtaking first hour, as the #2 Audi snatched an early lead ahead of the #7 and #8 Peugeots and sister #1 R18 - around four seconds covering the quartet.
With so little to choose between the four, traffic offered a chance for breathing space and overtaking was therefore aggressive. It would also prove a downfall.
First victim was Franck Montagny, who cut across a backmarker too early at Copse and was tagged into a spin into the barriers. The error caused heavy damage and a lengthy spell before the car was recovered, dropping the #8 908 out of contention.
Shortly after Allan McNish in the lead Audi was caught out as he dived down the inside of the #66 JMW Ferrari at Becketts - a clash for which the Ferrari was, controversially, later punished. McNish broke his steering and faced a lengthy repair in the pits, the impact of which was lessened slightly by the race's only safety car when Jody Firth span from second in class into the pit wall in the #46 TDR ORECA-Nissan.
That left a straight fight between the Pagenaud/Bourdais Peugeot and the #1 Audi of Timo Bernhard and Marcel Fassler. Again there was little to separate the pair, with both taking spells at the front as the race wore on.
The deciding moment came when Bernhard had to pit with damage to his rear and crucially to his legality boards. The Audi mechanics were superb, but a stop of around 1m proved too much to recover. Crucially they remained on the same lap but Bourdais and Pagenaud remained faultless, eventually claiming victory by just over one minute.
The #24 Oak Racing Pescarolo-Judd of Alexandre Premat and Olivier Pla rounded out the LMP1 podium after a long four-way battle with the sister #15 Oak and the two Rebellion Racing Lolas.
LMP2 was also influenced by damage, although eventual winners Karim Ojjeh and Tom Kimber-Smith in the #41 Greaves Nissan were rarely out of the top two.
Victory was assured however when the #45 Boutsen ORECA-Nissan had to pit with 90 minutes to go with rear damage, while earlier the #26 Strakka HPD - which had also been a challenger - suffered from a stop of a similar nature.
GTE Pro was only decided at the flag, with seven cars on the lead lap heading into the final half hour. The class win eventually went to the #51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 of Bruni Gianmaria and Giancarlo Fisichella, while second was claimed in the final minutes by Frederic Makowiecki and Stephane Ortelli in the #59 Luxury Racing Ferrari.
That demoted Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz in the #77 Felbermayr Porsche to third, while Andy Priaulx and Uwe Alzen recovered strongly to finish fourth in the #56 M3 - both BMWs having slipped from the front of the grid after struggling with long-run grip.
Porsche took a 1-2 in the GTE Am category, the #67 IMSA 911 of Nicolas Armindo and Raymond Narac once again proving the class of the field as it won by over one lap.
POSITIONS AFTER 6 HOURS
Pos Cl Drivers Team/Car Laps/Gap 1. LMP1 Bourdais/Pagenaud Peugeot 190 laps 2. LMP1 Bernhard/Fassler Audi + 1m29.763s 3. LMP1 Premat/Pla Oak Pescarolo-Judd + 5 laps 4. LMP1 Belicchi/Boullion Rebellion Lola-Toyota + 5 laps 5. LMP1 Lahaye/Moreau/Ragues Oak Pescarolo-Judd + 5 laps 6. LMP1 Collard/Tinseau/Jousse Pescarolo-Judd + 5 laps 7. LMP1 Kristensen/McNish Audi + 6 laps 8. LMP1 Montagny/Sarrazin Peugeot + 9 laps 9. LMP1 Fernandez/Primat/Klien AMR Lola-Aston + 11 laps 10. LMP2 Ojjeh/Kimber-Smith/Lombard Greaves Zytek-Nissan + 12 laps 11. LMP2 Frey/Meichtry/Rostan Race Performance ORECA-Judd + 13 laps 12. LMP2 Kraihamer/Ebbesvik Boutsen ORECA-Nissan + 14 laps 13. LMP2 Newton/Erdos/Collins RML HPD + 14 laps 14. LMP2 Gates/Hughes/Garofall RLR MG Lola-Judd + 19 laps 15. LMP2 Barlesi/da Rocha/Lafargue Oak Pescarolo-Judd + 19 laps 16. LMP2 Mailleux/Ordonez/Vernay Signatech ORECA-Nissan + 20 laps 17. FLM Schultis/Simon/Schell Pegasus FLM + 21 laps 18. FLM Mitchell/Grogor/Kronfli Genoa FLM + 21 laps 19. FLM Marcelli/Ducote/Moro JMB FLM + 22 laps 20. GTE-P Fisichella/Bruni AF Corse Ferrari + 22 laps 21. GTE-P Ortelli/Makowiecki Luxury Ferrari + 23 laps 22. GTE-P Lieb/Lietz Felbermayr Porsche + 23 laps 23. GTE-P Priaulx/Alzen BMW + 23 laps 24. GTE-P Goossens/Holzer Prospeed Porsche + 23 laps 25. LMP2 Leventis/Watts/Kane Strakka HPD + 23 laps 26. GTE-P Farfus/Muller BMW + 23 laps 27. GTE-P Pilet/Henzler IMSA Porsche + 23 laps 28. GTE-P Farnbacher/Simonsen Farnbacher Ferrari + 23 laps 29. GTE-P Bell/Walker JMW Ferrari + 24 laps 30. GTE-P Jakubowski/Beltoise/Marroc Luxury Ferrari + 26 laps 31. GTE-A Narac/Armindo IMSA Porsche + 26 laps 32. GTE-P Hancock/Dolan/Buncombe Jota Aston Martin + 26 laps 33. GTE-A Roda/Long Proton Porsche + 27 laps 34. FLM Hartshorne/Keating/Keen Neil Garner FLM + 28 laps 35. GTE-A Ehret/Lynn/Wills CRS Ferrari + 28 laps 36. GTE-A Bornhauser/Canal/Gardel Larbre Corvette + 28 laps 37. GTE-A Perazzini/Cioci/Lemeret AF Corse Ferrari + 28 laps 38. GTE-A Felbermayr/Ried Felbermayr Porsche + 28 laps 39. GTE-A Krohn/Jonsson/Rugulo Krohn Ferrari + 29 laps 40. GTE-P Rossiter/Mowlem/Wendlinger Jetalliance Lotus + 29 laps 41. GTE-A Giroix/Goethe/Wainwright Gulf Aston Martin + 37 laps 42. GTE-A Hummel/Christodoulou/Quaife CRS Ferrari + 59 laps Not classified: GTE-P Broniszewski/Peter Kessel Ferrari 118 laps GTE-P Lichtner-Hoyer/Rich/Hansson Jetalliance Lotus 114 laps LMP2 Companc/Russo/Kaffer Pecom Lola-Judd 103 laps Retirements: LMP1 Prost/Jani Rebellion Lola-Toyota 159 laps GTE-P Melo/Vilander AF Corse Ferrari 92 laps LMP2 Beche/Thiriet/Firth TDS ORECA-Nissan 23 laps