The 1st place No. 16 Pescarolo-Judd car leads the 2nd place No. 13 Rebellion Lola Toyota
The opening round of the 2011 Le Mans series has come to a close and what a race it was. The event was held at The Castellet circuit in France and spectators were treated to six hours of intensely exciting racing. The Henri Pescarolo Team was eventually victorious thanks to brilliant drives from the team’s drivers of Christophe Tinseau, Julien Jousse and Emmanual Collard.
The racing was action packed right from the get go. The first start was aborted but then the number 12 Rebellion Racing Lola Toyota gained the lead of the race. Unfortunately it then suffered from a loss of gearbox pressure. Its sister car suffered from a problem with its door fixation and the Quifel-ASM Zytek 09SC then suffered from a puncture allowing the number 16 Pescarolo-Judd to come back from the back on the grid and into first place.
By half way through the race the Pescarolo Team was still in the lead. At this stage there was a strong possibility that the team would win the race, scoring the team’s first victory since it returned to racing. Julien Jousse was showing very steady pace and was pulling away the rest of the field. At this point the team had a lead of one minute and 49 seconds.
As the fourth hour ticked over Pescarolo was continuing to exert its dominance. Emmanuel Collard was driving the team’s car and had managed to lap the second place car of Jean-Christophe Boullion in a Rebellion Lola-Toyota.
Starting from the third position on the grid, the Lola-Toyota #13 car was also struck by bad luck. Jean-Christophe Boullion had a spin in the first racing lap when the driver’s side door unexpectedly came open. After pitting to get the door closed, the car rejoined, and Jean-Christophe Boullion began to recover ground. But he had to stop again when the door came open again, and some time was lost in trying to more effectively secure the door.
It was looking like no one would be able to catch the Pescarolo cars. Third place overall was held by the Strakka Racing HPD-ARX-01d, this was also the leading car in the LM P2 class.
Jean-Christophe Boullion and Andrea Belicchi attacked relentlessly throughout the rest of the race rising to second place by the half way stage, two laps behind the leader. The Lola-Toyota #13 took the checkered flag in 2nd place, one lap behind the winning Pescarolo.
As the race began to come to a close, with just an hour left, the Pescarolo was still in first place, well over a lap ahead of its rivals. In the LM P2 class there was a change in leadership. Strakka Racing HPD had been leading but lost first place to the Greaves Motorsport Zytek-Nissan.
By the time the cars crossed the finish line, Pescarolo remained untouched in first place. The team basically had the perfect race with no mechanical problems. The Greaves Motorsport Zytek-Nissan won the LM P2 class while the Ferrari 458 Italia of JMW motorsport won the LM GTE Pro class. The Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Team Felbermayr-Proton won LM GTE.
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