Pescarolo duo claim Le Mans Series LMP1 title with Estoril win
|By Gary Watkins||Sunday, September 25th 2011, 19:57 GMT|
Julien Jousse and Emmanuel Collard claimed the Le Mans Series LMP1 drivers' title for sportscar legend Henri Pescarolo's team in a thrilling six-hour race at Estoril.
The French pair came out on top in a battle with championship rivals Andrea Belicchi and Jean-Christophe Boullion that lasted nearly the whole distance. The two cars were rarely separated by more than a handful of seconds until the very final stages.
Jousse, who had a new set of Michelin tyres for the run to the flag, emerged from the final pitstop sequence with a lead of less than two seconds. Boullion was initially able to pressure the Pescarolo aboard the Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyota, but was unable to maintain the challenge on tyres that were already a stint old and then fell off the lead lap when a puncture forced him into the pits.
Pescarolo regular Christophe Tinseau had been due to drive the final stint, but the team opted to keep Jousse in the car because the battle was so close.
Rebellion claimed the teams' title by one point, which came courtesy of Neel Jani's pole position. The Swiss led early on in the car he shared with Nicolas Prost, before a long stop for gearbox repairs put them out of contention.
The top LMP2 finisher, the TDS Racing ORECA-Nissan, ended up claiming the final spot on the overall podium. Jody Firth, Mathias Beche and Pierre Thiriet inherited the spot on the penultimate lap when Dominik Kraihamer went off the track in the similar car fielded by the Boutsen Energy team after a brake disc exploded.
The GTE Am class produced the best action of the weekend. JMW Ferrari duo Rob Bell and James Walker came out on top in an ultra-close battle with the Felbermayr-Proton Porsche driven by Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz.
The JMW team got Bell out ahead of Lietz at the final round of pitstops and the Briton was able to withstand intense pressure through the final stages to take class honours by 0.183s.
Results - 225 laps: Pos Cl Drivers Team/Car Time/Gap 1. LMP1 Collard/Tinseau/Jousse Pescarolo-Judd 6h00m24.815s 2. LMP1 Belicchi/Boullion Rebellion Lola-Toyota + 1 lap 3. LMP2 Beche/Thiriet/Firth TDS ORECA-Nissan + 6 laps 4. LMP2 Ojjeh/Lombard/Kimber-Smith Greaves Zytek-Nissan + 8 laps 5. LMP2 Rosier/Mello-Breyner/Mello-Breyner Extreme Limite Norma-Judd + 15 laps 6. GTE-P Bell/Walker JMW Ferrari + 16 laps 7. GTE-P Lieb/Lietz Felbermayr-Proton Porsche + 16 laps 8. LMP2 Frey/Meichtry/Hirschi Race Performance ORECA-Judd + 17 laps 9. GTE-P Pilet/Henzler IMSA Performance Porsche + 18 laps 10. GTE-P Melo/Vilander AF Corse Ferrari + 19 laps 11. GTE-A Armindo/Narac IMSA Performance Porsche + 20 laps 12. FLM Schultis/Simon/Schell Pegasus FLM + 21 laps 13. GTE-P Dolan/Hancock Jota Aston Martin + 21 laps 14. FLM Kutemann/Marroc JMB FLM + 22 laps 15. GTE-A Hummel/Quaife/Christodoulou CRS Ferrari + 22 laps 16. GTE-A Ried/Felbermayr Felbermayr-Proton Porsche + 23 laps 17. LMP2 Gates/Garofall/Hughes RLR MG Lola-Judd + 24 laps 18. LMP2 Leventis/Watts/Kane Strakka HPD + 24 laps 19. GTE-P Rodrigues/Ballay/Ayari JMB Ferrari + 28 laps 20. LMP1 Prost/Jani Rebellion Lola-Toyota + 38 laps 21. FLM Hartshorne/Kapadia/Graves Neil Garner FLM + 52 laps 22. GTE-A Perazzini/Cioci/Lemeret AF Corse Ferrari + 61 laps Retirements: LMP2 Kraihamer/Ebbesvik Boutsen Energy ORECA-Nissan 218 laps GTE-P Farnbacher/Simonsen Farnbacher Ferrari 99 laps LMP2 Perez Companc/Russo/Kaffer Pecom Lola-Judd 97 laps GTE-P Fisichella/Bruni AF Corse Ferrari 11 laps GTE-P Goossens/Holzer Prospeed Porsche 2 laps