Works Audis take one-two after Gulf car goes off

The factory Audis of Rinaldo Capello/Tom Kristensen and Frank Biela/Emanuele Pirro scored a one-two in the second round of the European Le Mans Series at Jarama on Sunday

Works Audis take one-two after Gulf car goes off

Capello and Kristensen, starting from pole-position, earned the German manufacturer its 12th consecutive endurance sportscar victory. Biela and Pirro finished 42.4secs behind the winners.

It could have been a different story, however, as the British-based Gulf Audi team looked on course to record its first victory of the season with an hour of the race remaining. The car of Stefan Johansson and Guy Smith suffered a brake problem which sent the helpless Swede spinning out of a 9secs lead with 60 of the 165-minute race remaining.

Johansson, who had started third on the 21-car grid, spun into the gravel trap at the end of the 180mph straight without hitting anything, and managed to get the car back to the pits. The car ultimately finished fourth, behind the LMP675-winning Reynard of Eric van de Poele and Didier de Radigues.

Race winner Kristensen paid tribute to Johansson afterwards: "I have to give a lot of credit to Stefan. He gave us really good competition and I was preparing to have a nice fight with him. But when I got into the car, we were in the lead. There was nobody left I had to fight with. Therefore it was a very easy race for me."

Johansson explained: "The brake pedal had been going soft for a couple of laps and then it lost all of the pressure. The problem was a leaking left rear brake calliper and the team changed the entire rear section of the Audi which is the quickest option."

Smith re-entered the race almost 15mins later in fifth position having lost nine laps. The 26-year-old Briton said: "We finished fourth in our first race, third last time out and were set for victory in our third. Stefan was in total control of the race - in cruise mode - but these things happen and we'll bounce back for the next race."

In the GT class, Dirk Muller and Fredrik Ekblom secured the first victory for the controverisial V8-powered BMW M3 GTR, finishing ahead of the understeer-plagued sister car of JJ Lehto and Jorg Muller.

The highest placed Porsche was that of Randy Pobst and Emmanuel Collard. They were expecting the BMWs to make another pit stop, and were amazed then they didn't.

"Just five weeks ago, the BMWs could barely go one hour on a tank of fuel, and today they went one hour and 26 minutes," said team owner Alex Job. "Emmanuel did a great job staying close to the two BMW V8s near the end of the event, but just couldn't catch the more powerful rivals."


1 Capello/Kristensen (works Audi R8) 114 laps
2 Biela/Pirro (works Audi R8) +42.419s
3 Van de Poele/de Radigues (Dick Barbour Reynard 01Q) +6 laps
4 Johansson/Smith (Gulf Audi R8) +9 laps
5 Muller/Ekblom (BMW M3 GTR) +12 laps
6 Lehto/Muller (BMW M3 GTR) +12 laps

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