WITHOUT TOKAI UNIVERSITY. – The sky was dull and conditions were dry: at 9h00 in the morning it obviously cooler than Saturday (21Â°). The grid line-up was that of qualifying and not according to the classification of the first race. The Tokai University Courage-Oreca was withdrawn, as at the last minute the Japanese engineers discovered that the cylinder head was cracked.
COCKER IN THE LEAD AGAIN. – The opening laps were a repeat of the previous day with Jonny Cocker in his Lola-Judd coupe in the role of the hare. He tried to pull away from Tinseau in the Pescarolo-Judd, MÃ¼cke’s Lola-Aston Martin, Lapierre’s Oreca and the two Audi R 10 TDIs driven by Albers and Bakkerud. But in vain. MÃ¼cke, who passed Tinseau (8th lap), caught the leading Lola, which he sliced past on lap 14, and quickly opened up a gap over the rest of the field.
THE FORD MK7 STUNS PORSCHE ! – The Felbermayr-Proton Porsche driven by Henzler, 2nd in GT2 on Saturday, stopped out on the circuit due to a mechanical problem. In this category, the surprise came from the Ford MK7 in the hands of David Murry who caught and passed the other Felbermayr Porsche with Holzer at the wheel on lap 30. In GT1, Roland Bervillé’s Saleen entered by Larbre Compétition, which led early on, was soon passed by Tsuchiya’s Aston Martin DBR9. The Japanese driver pulled away. Yamanishi in his Lamborghini also caught the French-entered car, but when he attempted to pass the Saleen, the latter closed the door and the two cars collided.
Before the first round of refuelling stops on lap 39 the positions were as follows:
LM P1 : 1- MÃ¼cke (Lola Aston Martin) ; 2- Cocker (Lola Coupé Judd) ; 3- Tinseau (Pescarolo-Judd) ; 4- Lapierre (Oreca-AIM 01), etc. LM P2 : 1- Lahaye (Pescarolo-Mazda) ; 2- Ibanez (Courage AER) ; LM GT1 : 1- Tsuchita (Aston Martin) ; 2- Iiri (Lamborghini), etc. LM GT2 : 1- Murry (Ford GT MK 7) ; 2- Holzer (Porsche 911) ; 3- MÃ¼ller (BMW).
ORECA’S STROKE OF BAD LUCK . –Just after the refueling stops it looked like there would be a good scrap between Shinji Nakano, who had taken over from Tinseau in the Pescarolo, and LoÃ¯c Duval in the Oreca-AIM who had replaced Lapierre. But it didn’t happen. Duval, suddenly slowed and headed for his pit. The mechanics rushed out to change the ECU inside the cockpit behind the driver. Duval set off, braked hard and stopped again. Someone saw that a piece of rubber as big as a banana had gone into an air restrictor on the inlet manifold! It was removed and Duval shot back out, down in sixth place.
THE BMW RUNS INTO TROUBLE: The positions changed in both grand touring categories. Atushi Yogo put the JLOC Lamborghini into the lead in the GT1 category, but Tsuzuki passed him under braking at the end of the pits straight and retook first place in his Aston Martin DBR9. In GT2, the Rahal Letterman Racing BMW was also in the lead taking advantage of the Ford’s mechanical problems, which immobilized the American car at its pit. The BMW was now under threat from the Hankook Ferrari driven by Simonsen and Farnbacher. When the BMW tried to rejoin after refuelling, the starter refused to work. Repairs took 4 laps and dashed the German car’s hopes of victory. Damien Toulemonde was in big trouble in LM P2. He went off damaging the rear of the car, and pitted for repairs. He exceeded the pit lane speed limit (76 km/h) and received a stop & go penalty to add to his woes.
A DODDLE! Up front the Lola-Aston Martin set a searing pace despite a small ECU problem. It was a minute in front of Christophe Tinseau’s Pescarolo, and had a lap in hand over Duval’s Oreca-AIM back up into third place after his stop. The Lola-Judd that had led early on had fallen back to fifth spot sandwiched between the two Audi R10 TDIs driven by Oliver Jarvis and Hideki Noda. The battle between the British and German cars provided a thrilling end to the race. Jonny Cocker was glued to the no.15 Audi’s gearbox and pulled off an audacious passing move in the closing seconds. MÃ¼cke took the checkered flag after a dominant drive in his blue and orange Lola-Aston Martin coupe. He finished a minute ahead of the Pescarolo-Judd.
Winners in the other categories
LM P2:Lathaye-Nicolet-Hein: Pescarolo-Mazda
LM GT1: Tsuchiya-Tsuzuki: Aston Martin DBR9
LM GT2: Farnbacher-Simonsen: Ferrari F430 GT