Nurburgring ELMS race report

Another Audi whitewash was strongly expected at the Nürburgring today, after the team dominated practice and qualifying. But from the very beginning of the second European Le Mans Series race, it was obvious that it was not going to go the way of the Le Mans winners. In the end, David Brabham and Jan Magnussen took the first win of the season for Panoz

Nurburgring ELMS race report

On the first lap, the team which did not put a step wrong all through the 24 Hour race suddenly found itself demoted from first and second on the grid to fourth and fifth. After Jean-Marc Gounon briefly leapt into the lead, Magnussen, driving the lead Panoz LMP-1 overtook him and sped into a lead that he was able to maintain for most of the rain-soaked 5 hours 45 minutes of the race, giving Panoz their first win of the season, ahead of the BMW pair of Jorg Muller and JJ Lehto, who retain the championship lead, and the Frank Biela/Emanuele Pirro Audi R8.

"It was one of those situations where you hope to get to the end and win the race," David Brabham said, adding that their secret weapon was "Jan!"

Muller and Lehto were delighted with their second place. "We're on the podium all the time," Müller said. "The car is bullet-proof - we just can't break it."

The notorious Nürburgring weather lived up to all expectations, with the first drops of rain falling within an hour of the start. Most of the leading teams pitted straight away for wet tyres, but Jan Magnussen stayed out on slicks - the correct choice as this first shower was extremely brief, and the track soon dried.

The rain started in earnest later, when David Brabham, taking over from Magnussen, was sent out on intermediate tyres, building up a healthy lead. The track soon became treacherous, and the cars were sliding off the track in all directions, but generally recovering. The Gounon/Auberlen BMW and the Allan McNish/Rinaldo Capello Audi both suffered badly. McNish finally went aqua-planing off the track at high speed.

"I thought I was going to flip over," the Scottish driver said, as he retired from the race.

The other star of the early stages of the race was the privately entered Pole Team Riley&Scott, driven brilliantly on slicks by Norman Simon. Rising up the field, they were running in the top three until lap 92 when the accelerator cable broke.

After the final Panoz pit stop, Magnussen came out thirty seconds behind Müller in the BMW, which still had to make a splash and dash. Müller initially pulled out his lead, but Magnussen then speeded up, and when Müller had a spin, the Dane retook the lead, which he kept until the chequered flag after 185 laps round the Nürburgring.

The DAMS team ran strongly in the atrocious weather, with F3000 driver Franck Montagny replacing the injured Christophe Tinseau in the number 32 Cadillac. Both cars looked sure of top six finish until the number Collard/Bernard car had a long pit stop due to electrical problems.

Montagny and Goossens finished fifth, between the second Panoz and the first of the LMP675 ROC cars. For the first time there was an LMP675 podium in an ALMS race, with all three French-run entries finishing the race. Ralf Kelleners and Jérôme Policand took the win, ahead of their ROC team-mates Bouillon and Gene, with the BMW-powered Debora third.

GTS victory went once more to Oreca, with Wendlinger, Beretta and Duez surviving a slight collision and some excursions off the track to win the class a massive 14 laps ahead of nearest competitors, the Chamberlain Viper team of Watson, Pompidou and Erdos.

"I couldn't see a thing," Watson said. "I just had to try and wipe the windscreen and hope I'd see the brake lights in front of me."

The second Oreca car failed to finish after taking avoiding action to miss a spinning BMW and damaging the floor of the car. The GT class win went to the Dick Barbour Racing line-up of Müller and Lühr, maintaining the team's 100% season record.

On the all-Porsche podium, second place went to the Skea Racing team of Mowlem and Murry, with the Aspen Knolls Porsche team of Lewis and Wagner third.

The next round of the ALMS is July 23rd at Sears Point, back on the other side of the Atlantic.

Pos, No, Driver, Entrant, Car, Laps

1 1 P Brabham/Magnussen Panoz Panoz LMP1 185
2 42 P Lehto/Müller BMW BMW V12 LMR 185
3 78 P Biela/Pirro Audi Audi R8 182
4 2 P O'Connell/Katoh/Graf Panoz Panoz LMP1 181
5 32 P Tinseau/Goossens DAMS Cadillac No 181
6 53 P Kelleners/Policand ROC ROC VW 180
7 18 P Lavaggi/Filiberti Ferrari Ferrari 333 177
8 91 GTS Beretta/Wendlinger/Duez Oreca Chry Viper 175
9 54 P Bouillon/Gene ROC ROC VW 174
10 43 P Auberlen/Gounon BMW BMW V12 LMR 170
11 5 GT Müller/Lühr Dick Barbo Porsche GT3 169
12 70 GT Murry/Mowlem Skea Porsche GT3 167
13 21 GT Lewis/Wagner MCR Aspen Porsche GT3 164
14 99 P Bruneau/Rostan PIR Debora BMW 164
15 10 GT Cunningham/Cunningham/Jons Prototype BMW E46 M3 163
16 61 GTS Watson/Pompidou/Erdos Chamberlai Chry Viper 160
17 22 GT Nagel/Foster/Argetsinger Alex Job Porsche GT3 160
18 6 GT Said/Stuck/Overbeek Prototype BMW E46 M3 160
19 52 GT Burgess/Buttiero/Rosa Seikel Porsche 911 160
20 08 GTS Rice/Brown/Haupt Roock Porsche GT2 158
21 71 GT Skea/Bundy/Willingham Skea Porsche GT3 154
22 35 GTS Ried/Ried Proton Porsche GT2 152
23 36 P Johansson/Smith/Matthews J Matthews Reynard 2QK 150
24 69 GT Wankum/Doff/Silbermayr Kyser Porsche GT3 147 Not Classified
25 31 P Bernard/Collard DAMS Cadillac No 161
26 9 GT Eschmann/Lorenz/Arhlé Roock Porsche GT3 116
27 92 GTS Archer/Donohue/Belloc Oreca Chry Viper 91
28 02 P Blieninger/Simon/Simo Pole Team Riley&Scott 90
29 23 GT Lambert/Pobst Alex Job Porsche GT3 87
30 77 P Capello/McNish Audi Audi R8 84
31 56 GT Sourd/Berville Noel del B porche 911 78
32 25 P Lancelotti/Gabbiani/Ortiz Conrero Riley&Scott 71
33 51 GT Maassen/Wollek Dick Barbo Porsche GT3 52
34 17 P Gache/Cottaz SMG Courage C60 44
35 24 P Zwart/Lupberger/Hooydonk Ascari Ascari Judd 41
36 33 GTS Neugarten/Jurasz/Slater Konrad Porsche GT2 40
37 20 P Gläsel/Bouchut Kremer Lola B98 10 23
38 28 P Konrad/Calderari/Bryner Konrad Lola B2K 10

Fastest Lap : Frank Biela (Audi) 1m30.418s
Track Length : 2.8310 Miles

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