Pescarolo makes victorious return

Sportscar legend Henri Pescarolo's team made a triumphant return to racing after a season away with victory in the opening round of the Le Mans Series at Paul Ricard

Pescarolo makes victorious return

Pescarolo Team's eponymous Judd-powered LMP1, driven by Christophe Tinseau, Julien Jousse and Emmanuel Collard, came from the back of the grid (where it had been demoted after post-qualifying scrutineering) to first place in fewer than 20 laps and maintained its position at the top of the leaderboard for the remainder of the six-hour race.

Collard, who was celebrating his 40th birthday on race day, crossed the line one lap clear of the Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyota shared by Jean-Christophe Boullion and Andrea Belicchi.

Collard said: "This is a great result after one year without racing."

The Pescarolo had a trouble-free run on a day when its rivals in the poorly-supported LMP1 class all ran into problems.

Boullion spun the Rebellion car early in the race when one of the coupe's doors came open at the penultimate corner. A damaged hinge resulted in vital seconds being lost at its next two pitstops, dropping the car off the lead lap by the end of the second hour.

The second Rebellion entry, which pole-winner Neel Jani shared with Nicolas Prost, lost 10 laps early on with a paddle-shift problem. The ASM Zytek lost a similar amount of time after Olivier Pla sustained a puncture, which resulted in rear bodywork damage.

Aston Martin Racing used the race as a test for its new AMR-One. The car driven by Darren Turner, Stefan Mucke and Harold Primat made a number of long stops, but returned to the track for the final half hour to take the chequered flag despite covering only half the number of laps of the winning car.

Third place went to the best of the LMP2 runners, the Greaves Motorsport Zytek driven by Tom Kimber-Smith, Karim Ojjeh and Gary Chalandon. Second in class was claimed by the AF Corse-run Pecom Racing Lola-Judd driven by Pierre Kaffer, Matias Russo and Luis Perez Companc.

The JMW Motorsport squad claimed GTE class honours on its first outing back in the Ferrari fold. Rob Bell and James Walker triumphed in the team's new 458 Italia ahead of the similar AF Corse car shared by Gianmaria Bruni and Giancarolo Fisichella.

The four factory-supported 911 GT3-RSRs run by the Felbermayr-Proton, ProSpeed and Imsa teams were all damaged in a start-line accident. This resulted from the green lights being shown on the startline gantry when the decision for the course car to undertake another parade lap had already been taken, causing confusion as some drivers accelerated while others waited behind the course car.

Results - 185 laps/6 hours: Pos Cl Drivers Team/Car Time/Gap 1. LMP1 Jousse/Tinseau/Collard Pescarolo 6h00m09.139s 2. LMP1 Boullion/Belicchi Rebellion Lola-Toyota + 1 lap 3. LMP2 Kimber-Smith/Chalandon/Ojjeh Greaves Zytek-Nissan + 6 laps 4. LMP2 Perez Companc/Kaffer/Russo Pecom Lola-Judd + 6 laps 5. LMP2 Kane/Watts/Leventis Strakka HPD + 8 laps 6. LMP2 de Crem/Kraihamer Boutsen Energy ORECA-Nissan + 10 laps 7. LMP1 Prost/Jani Rebellion Lola-Toyota + 10 laps 8. LMP1 Pla/Amaral Quifel-ASM Zytek + 11 laps 9. LMP2 Gates/Philipps/Garofall RLR MG Lola + 11 laps 10. LMP2 Ebbesvik/Meichtry/Frey Race Performance ORECA-Judd + 11 laps 11. LMP2 Erdos/Newton/Collins RML HPD + 12 laps 12. FLM Schultis/Simon/Schell Pegasus FLM-ORECA + 15 laps 13. FLM Julian/Zugel/Petersen Genoa FLM-ORECA + 15 laps 14. GTE P Walker/Bell JMW Ferrari + 15 laps 15. GTE P Bruni/Fisichella AF Corse Ferrari + 16 laps 16. LMP2 Luco/Rosier/Basso Extreme Limite Norma-Judd + 16 laps 17. GTE A Ried/Felbermayr/Felbermayr Felbermayr-Proton Porsche + 18 laps 18. GTE A Lemeret/Cioci/Perazzini AF Corse Ferrari + 18 laps 19. GTE A Peter/Broniszewski Kessel Ferrari + 18 laps 20. GTE A Christodoulou/Hummel/Quaife CRS Ferrari + 19 laps 21. GTE P Simonsen/Farnbacher Farnbacher Ferrari + 22 laps 22. GTE A Aguas/Kauffman/Ciro AF Corse Ferrari + 22 laps 23. GTE P Vilander/Melo AF Corse Ferrari + 24 laps 24. FLM Hartshorne/Keating/Keen Neil Garner FLM-ORECA + 28 laps 25. FLM Rodrigues/Menahem/Misslin JMB FLM-ORECA + 43 laps 26. GTE A Narac/Armindo IMSA Performance Porsche + 48 laps Retirements/not classified: GTE P Nygaard/Muller/Enge Young Driver Aston Martin 140 laps GTE P Hancock/Dolan Jota Aston Martin 105 laps LMP1 Turner/Primat/Mucke Aston Martin 96 laps FLM Moro/Marroc/Shanqi Hope FLM-ORECA 93 laps LMP2 Firth/Thiriet/Beche TDS ORECA-Nissan 91 laps GTE P Henzler/Pilet IMSA Performance Porsche 2 laps GTE P Holzer/Goossens Prospeed Porsche 0 laps GTE P Lietz/Lieb Felbermayr-Proton Porsche 0 laps 
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