Mans Series 2008
Round 4. Nürburgring 1000 Kilometres. August 16th -
a third day in a row, the Eifel mountains were bathed in
sunshine as the 46 entrants for this weekend's Nürburgring
1000 Kilometres headed out for the official warm-up at quarter
to nine on Sunday morning. That included the #95 Virgo Motorsport
GT2 Ferrari 430 - the only car to suffer serious damage
during the previous two days of practice. The British team
(favourites for the class title this season) had the car
fully rebuilt by late on Saturday evening, and were able
to roll out the restored Ferrari in time for the pitlane
opening. It would subsequently set fastest time in GT2.
Also on track was Olivier Panis after some questions were
raised after qualifying, when he reversed the #6 Oreca Courage
LMP1 in the pitlane - apparently having been reminded by
his team that the tyres hadn't been logged before leaving
the garage. The team is believed to be running "under
appeal" and will start as qualified, but any result
and points may be subject to change.
was suited and strapped into the car by 08:35, and the MG
was among the first LMP2 prototypes onto the track. After
the disappointment of qualifying, when track temperatures
were higher than anticipated and the team's choice of tyre
compound no longer suited the conditions, Tommy and the
team were keen to reassure themselves that , tyres aside,
the handling of the MG was back to the very promising peak
achieved during third practice. He completed two timed laps
before returning to the pitlane for a quick tweak to the
settings before heading back out again. "We were trying
to fine-tune the car a little after qualifying," explained
Erdos. "We wanted to restore some of the stability
to the rear of the car that we'd had in final practice,
so made a few changes in the middle of the session."
to handing the car to Mike for the final eight to ten minutes
of the twenty-minute session, things looked promising, and
while some others went quicker later on, the net result
appeared to be good. In full race trim, a 1:51 wasn't blisteringly
quick in qualifying terms, but it was ball-park for a healthy
race pace. "It was good to establish that we'd restored
the balance to the car and have a good set-up for the race,"
added Erdos, "but we weren't setting times this morning
- just checking systems."
was more than content with setting two laps in the 52s and
one 53. "My race target is to run in the fifty-sixes
or better, so to be doing fifty-twos with a full tank and
amid heavy traffic was quite pleasing," said Mike.
"All the systems are working fine now, and we're ready
the car back in the garage, the team began on final preparations
for the race, including thoroughly polishing the car from
one end to the other, and checking on the fitting of "helicopter"
tape (usually used to protect the leading edges of rotor
blades) to exposed and vulnerable areas of the bodywork.
MG is carrying an extra passenger this weekend. A regular
member of the Dailysportscar "team" for the past
five years, Danny Bear (right) has taken part in
a succession of races over the years, and has a very good
record of highly-placed finishes.
with Jan Lammers in the Le Mans 24 Hours, aboard the Racing
for Holland entry in 2005, saw the chequerboard Dome through
to the flag, although Danny did get a bit exposed to some
terrible weather that year. He came home looking a little
the worse for wear! He also completed the Spa 24 Hours in
2004 with Mike Jordan aboard a GT2 Porsche, and has raced
with several leading teams in the British and the FIA GT
has a presence on Facebook, and his personal profile can
be seen on the Dailysportscar website. He's hoping for another
successful run with Mike and Tommy this weekend. It will
be his first 'serious' race of 2008.
LMP2 Times - Warm-up
ten o'clock the two drivers joined the throngs in the paddock
by setting up a table beside the tractor unit and signing
Attendance at the Nürburgring is always good, but the
fine weather has certainly attracted more spectators than
usual. Their half-hour autograph session saw Mike and Tommy
signing nearly 200 cards, and almost as many photographs,
posters, programmes and other memorabilia. Some of the fans
and photographers brought forward some very early material,
including HeroCards from Mike and Tommy's Saleen period,
and photos of the Marcos LM600 from Le Mans in 1995 and
1996 for Tommy to sign.
race coverage which follows is created "live"
starting from approximately two hours into the event, and
then driver quotes and additional observations are added
later. This can lead to some inconsistency with tenses,
for which we apologise.
links to live timing and Radio Le Mans live radio coverage,
please see Nurburgring
intro page. After the race there will be archived recording
of interviews and race reporting.
Material between the start of the race and two hours was
added progressively as action and time permitted during
the course of the remaining four hours.
assembled grid moved off at dot on twelve o'clock, following
the Audi pace car around the circuit at a brisk pace on
what needed to be a five-minute green-flag lap. Needless
to say, the leaders arrived at the start-line somewhat ahead
of the 12:05 schedule, and the bellow of accelerating racecars
(whisper-quiet diesels excepted!) started at 12:03.
was a clean start by any standards, with only one significant
casualty at the first near-hairpin corner: Juan Barazi in
his eponymous Zytek spinning on the exit and being left
stranded, facing the gravel, until the entire field had
filed around behind him. There was no contact, and no apparent
reason for the spin, but it forced Jonny Kane to run wide,
and allowed Didier Theys in the Horag Porsche to make up
some ground. Not until Rob Bell, taking first stint in the
last-starting Virgo Ferrari had rounded the corner could
Barazi regain the track, and then both could begin their
recovery from the tail-end.
the leaders headed away from the central grandstand complex,
the Van Merksteijn Porsche fronted LMP2 from the Team Essex
car, with the Speedy Lola coupé third and the #40
ASM Lola fourth. The Horag Porsche was fifth, followed by
Kane in the #45, then the #46, Tommy in the RML MG, and
then Pierre Ragues in the #35 Saulnier Pescarolo. In essence
then, no change apart from the loss of Juan Barazi in the
had settled down just a little by the end of the first lap,
with a few small gaps opening out, although some serious
battles still persisted - especially amongst the overall
leaders. The two Peugeots eased away rapidly, but there
was a keen battle for third between the two Audis and the
Charouz Lola Aston Martin sandwiched in between.
into the second lap Tommy moved ahead of Darren Manning
in the #46 Embassy Zytek WF01 to take seventh, and started
to close on Theys in the Horag Porsche. "Darren just
ran unexpectedly wide at the last corner, and I got ahead
down the main straight (below), but I thought we'd
struggle for that first stint, knowing what the soft tyres
had been like in qualifying," said Tommy, aware that
the track temperature before the start had been 33 degrees
and likely to rise.
from what must have been a minor lapse in concentration,
Manning had the Saulnier car right under his rear wing,
and the Kruse Lola-Mazda was close too (below).
laps into the race and the recovering Barazi was already
up amongst the leaders in GT1. Almost as rapid was Rob Bell's
charge from the back in GT2 - the yellow-fronted Ferrari
already up to fourth in class.
continued to press hard on Theys in the Horag Porsche, and
closed to within half a second. He had eased out a small
advantage over Manning in the #46 Embassy car.
eight laps into the race, and a stop already for the Kruse
car, which re-emerges just ahead of Theys and Tommy. Theys
soon leaves the Mazda-powered Lola trailing in his wake,
and the Brazilian sweeps past soon afterwards.
nine, and the order in LMP2 remained largely unchanged,
with the two Porsches first; #34 and then #31, heading the
Speedy Sebah Lola by two seconds. The ASM Lola was fourth,
with Kane fifth, They's lay sixth and Tommy seventh. Manning
had dropped back a little from the tail of the MG, and had
Ragues in the #35 Saulnier tight on his tail. The out-of-position
Kruse car was next up on track, but not for position, with
the Trading Performance Zytek next up in class.
relatively short order, the prototypes were mixing it with
the GT cars. Tommy found himself in the midst of heavy traffic,
but was dealing with the gaggle of Porsches and Ferraris
swiftly enough, and this allowed him to pull even further
clear of Manning, and close down on Theys.
Working strategy on the fly, the team elected to leave Tommy
out longer than perhaps first planned, for so long as he
continued to make such good pace. "We were pleasantly
surprised at how well the soft tyres held up in that first
stint," said Adam Wiseberg. "Bearing in mind how
they'd upset the balance of the car in qualifying, we had
been ready to bring Tommy in early and swap to the harder,
medium compound tyres earlier than our normal pitstop window.
I the end, he drove a very strong, competitive first hour."
of him, while the two leading Porsches may have eased out
a comfortable cushion, the battle for third between the
Speedy Sebah Lola and ASM car remained tight (above
left). Jonny Kane has fallen away from this somewhat,
and was isolated in fifth. There was a matter of just a
second or so between Theys and Tommy, but fluctuations in
traffic had allowed Manning to close up once again on the
MG. The #35 Saulnier Pescarolo had dropped back.
The Virgo Ferrari moved into third place in GT2.
The pressure from Manning (above) was back on in
earnest now, and the black and gold WF01 had latched on
tightly to Tommy's tail. A little further up the race, Olivier
Pla in the ASM Lola had also caught the #33 Speedy Sebah
car, outpacing Andrea Belicchi despite the latter's benefit
of a roof over his head!
was lapped for the first time by the leading Peugeots.
The gap between Tommy and Darren Manning opened up again,
and the MG closed back down on the Horag Porsche, which
was less than a second ahead now.
Bell (left) takes second in GT2.
The Speedy Sebah Lola pits from third. It seems very early.
At the time there's an assumption that the team is trying
to get the car deliberately out of sequence, as the stop
is not overly long, but later it is suggested that some
wire gauze had been fouling the rear tyres and needed to
be pulled free.
Bell had caught up with the Felbermayr Porsche and is challenging
for the lead in GT2, less than forty minutes after starting
from the back of the grid.
Team Modena Aston Martin leads GT1, while it's a Peugeot
one-two again in LMP1, with Audi third, Charouz fourth,
and the second Audi fifth.
Rob Bell takes the lead in GT2.
Tommy now running in P6 after the #33 car's unscheduled
pitstop, but still has Manning on his rear. It's been much
the same since the start of the race, ever since Tommy overtook
the #46 Embassy car.
Speedy Lola has rejoined just behind the Tommy-Manning duel
on the track, and looks set to get involved any moment now!
After having the race all his own way for the opening three-quarters
of an hour, Verstappen is coming under increasing pressure
from Caspar Elgaard in the #31 Team Essex Porsche. They're
nose-to-tail now (above), but have a massive advantage
over the ASM Lola, now third. Jonny Kane retains a grip
on fourth, but is also some way behind.
recently rejoined, Belicchi in the #33 Speedy Sebah Lola
has passed Manning, and is now looking to unlap himself
Belicchi gets ahead of Tommy, who decides there's no point
in resisting the Italian's attack as the #33 car is a lap
Tommy heads down the pitlane for his first pitstop - fuel
and tyres. He rejoins immediately behind the #33 Lola on
track, proving that a pitstop is almost exactly worth a
lap on track, although it wasn't the quickest of RML pitstops,
thanks to a jammed wheelnut.
Verstappen pits from the lead. Elgaard moves through. Other
pitstops mean that the Horag Porsche is third. Tommy comes
over the radio to suggest that the MG feels "like a
different car" after the pitstop. "It was like
I'd climbed into a completely new car," he admitted
later. "It was a revelation! I meant I could settle
down and really enjoy the drive, knowing that we had the
car handling and performing exactly as it had done in that
last free practice session. It was great!"
The #17 Pescarolo ends the first hour by running a very
slow lap and heading for the pitlane.
the #7 Peugeot leads LMP1 by about half a second from the
order in LMP2 at the start of the second hour has the #34
Porsche first from the similar (but peacock blue) Team Essex
Porsche second and ASM third.
Tommy appears to be falling back marginally on the #33 Lola.
The Horag car is catching the #45 on track - it's not for
position. The #35 Saulnier Pescarolo is tight on the back
of Manning in the #46, followed by the #33 and then Tommy.
Horag passes #45.
Tommy overtakes Manning on the run between the Bit Kurve
and the final chicane, but it's a desperately tricky moment,
as the two LMP1 rivals are caught in the middle of an equally
serious duel for the lead between the two Peugeots. Three
a-breast through the kink is tight!
Tommy is finally able to close down on the #33, taking advantage
Merksteijn leads by about two seconds from the Team Essex
car, but the ASM Lola is some half-minute or more in arrears.
The #33 Speedy Sebah Lola makes it's second pitstop. It
returns to the track just behind Tommy (right).
a very tight battle between the two Embassy cars - little
quarter being given in this intra-team duel. Tommy meanwhile
has Verstappen snapping at his heels, ready to put his first
lap on the MG.
Phil asks Tommy if he's happy to stay in the MG for a third
stint, after his next pitstop. There's only a momentary
hesitation before the Brazilian comes back on the radio
to say it was 'OK'. "I felt pretty happy with the car
once we'd got rid of those qualifying tyres, and I was very
happy to stay in for a third stint," he said afterwards.
"The first stint itself had been very hard work, but
I felt good for a third."
#90 GT2 Ferrari spins off into the gravel at the final chicane,
bringing out waved yellows and a recovery crane.
It's all getting very tight again in the middle of LMP2,
with Tommy, the two Embassy cars and the chasing #34 Porsche
all circulating tightly together.
Verstappen laps Tommy, who then has Elgaard in the Team
Essex Porsche looming large in his rear-view mirrors. The
#33 is also closing rapidly on the Horag Porsche.
Major error for Elgaard at the final chicane, and without
apparently touching anyone - or being touched - he spins
off into the deepest section of gravel. Tommy sees enough
out of the corner of his eye to warn the team over the radio
that there may have to be a safety car, but the recovery
marshals are quickly into action and have the metallic blue
Porsche hauled backwards and onto firmer ground within a
#33 Lola passes the #27 Horag car for position as Tommy
heads for the pitlane.
Tommy makes his pitstop for fuel only. The #31 Essex Porsche
is still in the gravel, but getting nearer to the grass
Team Essex Porsche rejoins. The ASM Lola sustains a puncture,
and heads for the pitlane. The photos reveal a severely
damaged wheel rim is the culprit.
Tommy has been having a hard time holding off the attack
from Verstappen in the #34 Porsche. At dot on the hour,
the purple and white car moves through to add that long-anticipated
order in LMP2 has the #34 leading from the Horag Porsche
second, the ASM Lola third and Tommy fourth.
Tommy is ten seconds behind Amaral for third, but has the
#33 Lola closing on his tail. "During my second stint
on the medium tyres, they started to go away from me quite
early on, and I didn't feel able to push so hard,"
Gap to Amaral is nine seconds
the race began it's third hour, Tommy occupied fourth position
in LMP2, but was closing rapidly on Amaral in the #40 ASM
Lola. The remaining commentary was added "live",
so please make allowances for changes in tense, and perhaps
some spelling mistakes due to rapid typing!
Tommy has rapidly narrowed the gap to just 4.5 seconds.
Tommy moves ahead of Amaral to take third in LMP2 - a lofty
position that few outside the team would have predicted
before the start of this race.
in the #34 Van Merksteijn Porsche leads the class from a
relatively comfortable position, 8th overall, and almost
a complete lap ahead of Pompidou, now at the wheel of the
Speedy Sebah Lola in second. The #33 is lying 11th overall,
with Tommy 12th, sixteen seconds behind him.
Tommy continues to pull ahead of Amaral in the ASM Lola,
building up a buffer that may become vital as the race develops.
It has already grown to 10 seconds, but it may need to be
more. While outpacing Amaral with ease, he seems unable
to make any inroads on the #33 Speedy Sebah Lola, which
continues to maintain an impressive pace in second.
is currently the #35 Saulnier Pescarolo, Lahaye at the wheel,
followed by Lienhard in the Horag Porsche, and then Joey
Foster in the so-far untroubled #46 Embassy Zytek. He has
an advantage of 47 seconds over Nielsen, pushing hard in
the recovering Team Essex Porsche.
Tommy is amid some pretty thick traffic, and having issues
with the #4 Saulnier Pescarolo. The LMP1 car, unlike it's
LMP2 sister car, is way off the pace, but seemingly it's
drivers are not aware of this, and blithely ignore almost
everything else happening around them. Tommy must also be
aware that he has the Lola Aston Martin on his tail.
Tommy is clipped in the rear by one of the GT2 Porsches
on the run down from Bit Kurve. The #95 Porsche appears
to come off worse, apparently picking up a front puncture.
"I'd already passed him, but I'm not sure he was aware
of me coming by, and pulled back in across my tail. I just
felt a gentle nudge at the rear, nothing more. I didn't
realise he'd picked up a puncture. I radioed Phil to advise
him of the contact, and the team monitored the telemetry
to ensure we'd not sustained a puncture ourselves, and then
I pressed on."
Tommy continues to have problems with the #4 Saulnier car,
declaring that the driver's behaviour is nothing less than
"dangerous". The wayward car is currently running
in 42nd position overall. "It was an absolute nightmare
having to deal with that car," said Erdos. "I
saw him involved in incidents with at least two other cars
ahead of me, and I'm sure there would have been others.
It was quite unbelievable driving."
in the #33 Speedy Lola has pitted - once again, amongst
the first to do so. Tommy moves through to second in LMP2.
It is good to see the two lights glowing on the rear flanks
of the MG - see photo by David Stephens below.
a full fuel load, Pompidou sets the car's fastest race lap
1:46.085 - his first flyer after pitting.
Lahaye in the #35 Saulnier Courage takes Amaral for third
in LMP2. Tommy is much relieved to have pulled well clear
of the same team's troublesome #4 car, and also may have
got away without incurring the feared puncture. He is now
preparing for his next pitstop, which will complete his
opening triple stint.
The low-fuel warning light flickers on his dashboard.
3 & DRIVER CHANGE
Tommy into the pits for fuel, tyres and a driver change.
Lahaye moves through to second. A typical pitstop equates
almost exactly to a full lap of the circuit.
A lap into his stint, and Mike is holding 5th in class now
- although he had the honour of retaining the two-light
signal on the side of the car for his out-lap - with others
yet to make their scheduled pitstops for this period. Bleekemolen
now leads in the #34 Van Merksteijn Porsche (7th overall)
from Lahaye second (#35), Pompidou in the Speedy Sebah Lola
third, Lienhard (Horag) fourth and then Mike Newton in the
MG, just 3.9 seconds behind the Swiss driver.
The Kruze car, which hasn't had a very encouraging race
anyway, has stopped in the pitlane with flames belching
out of the exhaust. It looks pretty spectacular, but may
not be as terminal as it appears. The car is 23rd overall,
12th in class.
Mike moves back into fourth after the #35 Saulnier Pescarolo
makes its anticipated pitstop from second. Soon afterwards
the leading #34 Porsche also pits for fuel and tyres before
moving off smoothly and able to retain the lead, such was
it's advantage over the #33 car in second.
is a mere seven seconds behind Lienhard in the Horag Porsche,
currently third, but is marginally slower lap-for-lap, but
then the #27 car pits, and allows not only the MG through,
but at almost exactly the same time, Lahaye as well, who
passes Mike for position. So it's all change, but no change,
for Mike. The MG remains fourth.
The #16 Pescarolo spins off . . . again, this time at the
Bit Kurve. The car is going through a very difficult period,
having lost a tyre some twenty minutes ago, and being left
stranded for several heart-stopping moments right in the
middle of the track just at the start of the main straight.
This time Boullion steps out of the car, and abandons it
- and possibly the race - in the gravel. However, after
a few minutes of head scratching and gesticulating the marshals,
the car is hauled back onto harder ground and he heads back
to the pits. It remains to be seen if his restart will be
permitted - depending upon how far away from the car he
in the ASM Lola marks the beginning of the fourth hour by
running wide on the first section of the Mercedes Arena,
and spinning through the marbles. It's a messy pirouette,
but he recovers well enough, and probably only loses about
five seconds in the process.
the meantime, the #27 Porsche has stopped for fuel, tyres
and a driver-change to Jan Lammers. It's a lengthy stop
that costs several seconds, and the red and white car rejoins
several places lower than it left.
The situation in LMP2 has Bleekemolen leading in the #34
Porsche, still 7th overall, from Pompidou second (9th) and
Lahaye, back in third for Saulnier. Mike is fourth, but
not able to match the pace of Lahaye, who's just set the
#35 car's fastest lap at 1:47.652. Mike's typical laps are
around 1:54, and Phil encourages him to "get back into
the groove". His earlier laps were a second or so quicker.
Mike admits later that he shouted a less than flattering
response into his helmet at that point. "I was in the
effing groove! There were just far too many other cars in
my way! I had an eight or nine laps sequence when there
wasn't really a single lap without a yellow flag - or two
- and I was for-ever getting stuck behind GT2 cars. You
only need to encounter one of those at the wrong section
of the track and you've lost two, three, maybe four seconds
on that one lap. It's very frustrating!"
immediate concern was John Nielsen - and wouldn't that be
for anyone in his situation! - the imposing Dane pushing
hard in his attempt to recover the ground lost by Elgaard's
spin at the chicane.
The pressure is eased when Nielsen pits. Amaral has slipped
to sixth in the one-time third-placed ASM Lola, while Joey
Foster in the #46 Embassy Zytek moves ahead of the pit-bound
Nielsen to take fifth. Lammers also passes the Team Essex
Porsche, moving the similar Horag car through to seventh.
Mike has responded to Phil's appeal and upped his pace accordingly,
popping in a few laps in the mid to low fifties. "It
wasn't as straightforward as it might have been," he
explained. "Towards the middle of my double stint the
engine started to fade. There was a clear loss of power,
and that became very obvious down the long main straight.
I could go almost the whole length without getting up enough
speed to warrant changing into sixth gear - no sooner had
I done so, than it was time to step down again and brake
for the first corner. That loss of power was also making
coping with the GT traffic even more of a challenge."
was 30 seconds behind Lahaye at this stage, but had Amaral
just a second or so behind him as he started his 107th lap,
and Lammers was less than ten seconds behind them both.
Amaral passes Mike for fourth place (below), so
the MG may soon be coming under pressure from Lammers in
the Horag Porsche.
Lammers has closed to within five seconds of MIke.
Lammers passes Mike into the first corner to take fifth,
the MG therefore dropping to sixth.
Lammers passes Amaral, thereby moving into fourth, with
Mike sixth from Nielsen in the #31 Essex Porsche.
Pitstop for the #33 Speedy Sebah Lola, and it stays there
for some time.
A spin for the #26 Bruichladdich Radical. Last year's front
runner has had an incident-packed race, having earlier run
out of fuel and only been able to return to the pits on
the starter motor. That knackered the motor, and necessitated
additional repairs. It lies 43rd overall.
Bleekemolen (#34 Porsche) sets the fastest LMP2 lap of the
race of 1:4.697
Michael Vergers in the #32 Barazi Zytek runs into Amaral
in the ASM Lola, forcing the fourth-placed Lola into a spin.
As a result the rear "legality panel" has been
damaged. Moments later Jonny Kane unlaps himself on Amaral,
who appears to run very wide as the Embassy car eases through.
Amaral pits, probably to have the damage to the car repaired.
Darren Manning in the #46 Embassy car, who had just overtaken
Nielsen for fifth, now moves ahead of ASM as well to inherit
fourth. He's currently second-fastest in LMP2. Mike, meanwhile,
looks likely to overtake the stationary ASM Lola, and move
up one place from his current seventh.
Mike duly moves through into sixth in class, thirteenth
overall. The #35 Saulnier Pescarolo makes a pitstop out
of sequence and drops to fourth from second. ASM has completed
a much quicker pitstop than expected and has Olivier Pla
- perhaps the team's fastest driver - back out and running
in 16th overall, 7th in class.
Both leaders in LMP2 are into the pitlane for scheduled
fifth hour begins with dramas for the WR Salini Zytek. Not
quite last in LMP2 - the Bruichladdich Radical is behind
- the tail-ender suffers serious rear-end damage and limps
back to the pits.
The ASM Lola is hit in the rear for a second time, this
time by the #85 Spyker. The "legal panel" is totally
removed this time, so the Lola will have to make yet another
stop. Moments later the second Spyker, the #94, is itself
hit by the Team Essex Porsche. There's an awful lot of contact
in this race!
order in LMP2 is now . . . #34 leading from 6th overall,
with nearly two laps over the #27 Porsche second, Jan Lammers
ensuring a strong middle stint for the Horag car. Third
is Ragues in the #35 Saulnier Pescarolo, eighty seconds
ahead of Manning in the #46 Embassy Zytek - the car's best
showing all season. Elgaard, hoping perhaps to make up for
his unforced error and spin at the final chicane earlier
in the race, is running fifth. Mike holds sixth, but with
a relatively comfortable cushion of half a minute over Olivier
Pla, yet to address the question of the missing panel.
#3 Lavaggi AER LMP1 is still running, which must be some
kind of record in itself. Wolfgang Kaufmann is in his second
stint at the wheel, and has just set the car's two fastest
laps one after the other. A 1:49.857 is a perfectly acceptable
race-pace, and must be an encouraging sign for team owner
and co-driver Giovanni Lavaggi.
Manning, really getting to grips with the #46 Embassy WF01,
sets another fastest lap for the #46 machine. 1:48.340 is
the kind of pace only currently being bettered by the leading
Porsches of Verstappen and Lammers - good company indeed.
Olivier Pla - still with a missing "legal panel"
- moves ahead of Mike to take sixth in class on the track.
The team will subsequently replace the panel at their final
pitstop, thereby restoring "legality" to the ASM
Another troubled pitstop for Kruse, with the car reaching
the end of the pitlane before coasting to a halt. Luckily,
it has not actually crossed the line, so can be hauled back
to the garage by the crew.
PITSTOP & DRIVER CHANGE
Mike into the pitlane for his second pitstop - fuel, tyres
and handing the MG back to Tommy for the final stints. The
#33 Speedy Sebah car is also into the pits, just as Pla
sets a new best for the ASM car 1:46.596.
second attempt by the #4 Kruse car to leave the pits again
ends in failure.
A very good pitstop from the RML crew has Tommy back out
and into the race in double-quick time. It may take a few
minutes for the order to resolve, but it looks encouraging
for the final sector of the race.
is running in seventh but is only four seconds behind Pla
in the ASM Lola, but closing at some rate.
A problem for the #27 Horag Porsche, which pits and is immediately
hauled back into the garage. The car, with Lammers in the
cockpit, had been lying second in LMP2 - the car will drop
several places, but rejoins for the finish of the race.
cars are in contention for Lammers now-vacant slot - the
#35 Saulnier Pescarolo (Ragues), the #31 Team Essex Porsche
(Elgaard) and then Darren manning in the #46 Embassy car.
Only five seconds separate all three.
has responded to Tommy's challenge, and the gap has extended
to nine seconds. "He's seen us mate!" suggests
Phil Barker over the radio. "You'll just have to go
quicker through the corners!"
responds a few minutes later, not with added pace, but a
reposte over the radio to suggest that he isn't getting
the performance he expects from the car, and confirming
Mike's opinion that the engine has lost its edge.
6 - Finish
final hour of the race, and Tommy holds sixth in LMP2, 14th
overall. The class is being lead by the #34 Van Merksteijn
Porsche, 6th overall, from the #35 Saulnier Pescarolo, the
#1 Essex Porsche, and then the first (and less troubled)
#46 Embassy Zytek WF01. Barbosa in the LMP1 Rollcentre Pescarolo
is 12th overall, 40 seconds ahead of Pla in the ASM Lola
fifth in class, and then Tommy sixth by 23 seconds. Vergers
is seventh, two laps down on the MG, with Warren Hughes
back aboard the second Embassy car in eighth. The #45 car
had reported an engine problem earlier, and lost time in
the pits as the team attempted to trace it. On restarting,
despite finding no obvious fault, it has run well.
proves this at 17:18 by setting a new fastest lap for the
#45; 1:47.904, and moving closer to Vergers in the Barazi
Zytek. There's barely a hair's breadth between them, and
it seems likely that there will be a change for position
here very soon. His team-mate, Darren Manning, is still
running very strongly in fourth.
overtakes Vergers to claim seventh place, one down on Tommy
but a full lap behind.
Tommy into the pitlane for a final splash of fuel - no need
to change tyres, so he's only stationary for about ten seconds
or so, then rapidly back out onto the track. He's told by
Phil that the gap on Hughes is healthy enough to mean he
only needs to take it steady for the remaining eight laps
at the sharp end, the "wrong" Peugeot is leading.
Sarrazin leads in the #8 car from Marc Gene in the #7, but
the latter leads the championship. Similarly, the #1 Audi
is ahead of the championship contending #2 R10. The cynical
in the press room are suggesting that in both cases, the
leading team-mate may make a few unforced errors over the
remaining few laps!
Sarrazin runs unexpectedly wide and takes some time to regain
the track. Gene closes to within 30 seconds.
An unexpected pitstop for Allan McNish in the #1 Audi, who
takes on fresh tyres and fuel. He has just two laps to run,
so the rational purpose of fresh tyres is unclear.
The second-placed #35 Saulnier Pescarolo makes a brief stop
for fuel. It looks likely to retain its place comfortably.
lap for the leading Peugeot, which still has a 24 second
lead. Maybe the cynics are wrong!
win in LMP2 for the #34 Van Merksteijn Porsche. An excellent
second place to the #35 Saulnier Pescarolo denies Team Essex,
third, the points needed to maintain the championship challenge,
so the LMP2 title will go to Van Merksteijn Motorsport,
subject to confirmation. With Peter himself absent, that
means a solo title for Jos Verstappen. Fourth is Darren
Manning, the best ever result for Embassy, with Pla fifth
for ASM and Tommy sixth. Warren Hughes brings home the second
#45 Embassy WF01 seventh - both cars finishing for the first
time - and Vergers eighth. Ninth was Belicchi in the #33
Lola - perhaps a disappointing result after such a strong
early run - and then Ojeh brings home the Trading Performance
Zytek in 10th.
in class, and well in arrears, was the #44 Kruse Lola-Mazda,
21st overall, with the #27 Horag Porsche slumping to a lowly
twelfth in the final minutes after the extended pitstop
- reason unknown at present. Still running, the Radical
takes thirteenth and the WR Salini fourteenth, although
the latter fails to cover the necessary distance and is
unclassified. With all LMP2 starters also finishing the
race (albeit with one non-classified) that must be a "first"
for the category once considered the most delicate in sportscar
lap of the race for the #1 Audi came on the final lap, with
McNish setting a 1:41.211. Point proven.
pleased to have finished, but disappointed not to have done
better than sixth," admitted Phil Barker,
the team's manager. "The engine ran a bit flat in the
last part of the race, but that apart, it was a trouble-free
run, and we netted three useful points, but it would have
been nice to finish a little higher up the order. Perhaps
a few more laps and we might have got fourth!"
drove a very strong triple stint, and that got us up to
second," said Adam Wiseberg, Motorsport
Director at AD Group, the team's principal sponsors. "To
start ninth and be running second by the mid-way stage must
have raised a few eyebrows! We knew that, with paired professional
drivers in several of the other cars, Mike would have difficulty
maintaining that position, but overall the car ran reliably,
and there were no mistakes by either of the drivers, or
the pit crew. That makes this a good performance that just
deserved a better result. Adam was also happy to point out
that the EX265 is now based on a car that first raced several
years ago. "We ran close to several much newer cars,
and for the two open-topped Lolas, ASM's and ours, to run
so competitively and finish fifth and sixth with what is
really a five-year-old design is testament to Lola's efforts."
from the Van Merksteijn car, which was a very fast car driven
by two extremely competent professional drivers - one ex-Formula
1, the other nearly so - everyone else was very close. It's
a highly competitive class these days and it could have
gone two or three positions either way very easily,"
concluded Adam. "That seemed like
an awful lot of hard work for just three points, but it
was a job well done."
don't think I ever got a clear lap at all during my second
stint," said Mike Newton. "There
were a lot of yellow flags, a lot of incidents and mechanical
failures, and a succession of GT cars to contend with. As
soon as you come up on one of the quicker GT2 and GT1 cars,
that's several seconds lost on each lap. There were also
times when I knew the engine wasn't giving its best. All
in all, that was tough, although the car behaved so much
better on the medium compounds. It felt much better balanced
and the oversteer had all but gone."
wasn't exactly a pleasant first stint," admitted Thomas
Erdos. "I was very glad to get through it,
and as soon as the mediums (tyres) were fitted, the whole
car was transformed. Getting up to second was something
I never truly expected, although I think I had help! Some
of the others encountered unexpected problems, fell off
or whatever, and made early pitstops, so the second place
might have been deceptive, but it felt good to hear P2 over
are high resolution images posted in the Nurburgring
Gallery. With thanks to David
and David Stephens of Studio
21 for additional images this weekend.
the races it is possible to follow live timing on the Internet,
visit the Le
Mans Series website and click on the highlighted panel
in the centre of the page. Full results details can also
be downloaded in PDF format from the Le Mans Series website.