Jean-Christophe Boullion and Emmanuel Collard made up for their disappointment at Le Mans by taking victory in the second race of the Le Mans Endurance Series at Monza.
The French pair, driving the same Pescarolo-Judd that came up short at La Sarthe, recorded a five-lap victory over nearest challenger Team Jota, but had to come from behind after a gear selection problem put Collard into the gravel during the second hour. Once back on track, however, the two drivers adapted their driving style to cope with the problem, and then drove faultlessly through a last-minute rain shower to take victory.
The 1000km race lasted for little more than five hours, but the battle for the lead was not decided until the final hour. Although not quite as close as 2004, when the two Veloqx Audis duelled to the flag, the Pescarolo team had its work cut out to resist the Creation Autosportif DBA-Judd, only relieving the pressure when Nicolas Minassian was forced to pit from second position with a water leak. The British car had pushed the Pescarolo hard throughout the race, only to fall foul of its usual poor luck and miss out on the podium. Minassian eventually brought the car home seventh overall, and fifth in LMP1.
Hayanari Shimoda, LMES winner at Spa in April, led the opening laps in the Zytek Engineering entry that he shared with Tom Chilton, but a bent wishbone and a brief off-track moment cost the team six laps, eventually relegating it to tenth at the flag.
With the expected frontrunners sidelined by problems, the stage was left open for some of the smaller participants to enjoy a spell in the limelight. Stepping into second position on this occasion was the British Jota operation, with Sam Hignett, John Stack and Haruki Kurosawa scoring their first ever podium. The Zytek led the chasing pack over the line, despite an off from Hignett in the closing stages.
“There was a miscommunication with the team,” the youngster said, “I thought I had two laps over the third-placed car, but they told me that I had two seconds, so I pushed harder than I should have done!”
Hignett did have a two-lap cushion, and was able to hold it to the finish, before being joined on the podium by another British stalwart team, Rollcentre. Team boss Martin Short took third place alongside Vanina Ickx and Joao Barbosa, seven laps down on the winning Pescarolo.
The LMP2 class was won by the Paul Belmondo Racing team of Vincent Vosse, Karim Ojjeh and Claude-Yves Gosselin, but again the result remained in doubt until close to the flag. Early leader RML suffered a long stop when Tommy Erdos lost drive to one wheel, handing the lead and victory to the Belmondo team.
RML recovered to finish eleventh overall and third in class, with the Chamberlain-Synergy Lola recording its second successive fifth place overall for second in the junior prototype category.