14 September 2008
Silverstone 2008: Peugeot winning streak ends.
Having been unbeaten in the Le Mans Series since entering at the start of 2007, Peugeot saw its winning streak come to an end in dramatic fashion at Silverstone as Audi stole the championship titles in the final round of the campaign.
Allan McNish and Dindo Capello secured victory in the race, while fourth place for team-mate's Mike Rockenfeller and Alex Premat saw them take the drivers' title. Audi also secured the constructors crown, while the team title went to Audi Sport Team Joest thanks to the result for the #2 car.
The race started in dramatic fashion when McNish went to the outside of Nicolas Minassian through Copse for the first time, with the Frenchman being tipped into a spin that dropped him down the order and left him battling back through the field,
Despite making his way through the field towards the front, his title hopes disappeared in dramatic fashion entering the Hangar Straight for the 46th time as contact with the GT2 IMSA Performance MATMUT car of Richard Lietz saw the Peugeot tipped into a spin. As has been the case on too many occasions this season, the LMP1 car got airbourne before making contact with the wall and was out of the race on the spot – leaving Rockenfeller and Premat well placed to overhaul the two-point deficit and take the crown.
Contact between Capello and Stephane Sarrazin in the sister Peugeot following the Safety Car period for Minassian's accident put the second 908 HDi out of contention after a lengthy pit-stop for repairs.
With the #1 Audi escaping with nothing worse than a puncture, it soon became apparent that an Audi win was in the bag barring any major issues and McNish and Capello duly secured the first LMS win for the R10 TDi, although there was a brief scare for Premat when he was forced to pit with a suspension problem. With the issue resolved however, he climbed back into a podium position before a late drive-through dropped the car back to fourth.
Jan Charouz and Stefan Mucke took a fine second place for the Charouz Racing Systems Lola-Aston Martin, while the podium was completed by the Pescarolo of Romain Dumas and Jean-Christophe Boullion.
The LMP2 crown had already been decided in favour of van Merksteijn Motorsport man Jos Verstappen and the former F1 racer duly celebrated the title win with the class win with the white and purple Porsche RS Spyder finishing in an impressive fifth overall. The similar car of Horag Racing took second on the final outing for the car's owner Fredy Lienhard before he retires from racing, while Quifel-ASM took the final step on the podium. That however only came following late heartache for Embassy Racing on home soil, with Jonny Kane and Warren Hughes having taken the flag in third place. However, Kane was found to have exited the pit lane while a red light was showing, and the resultant time penalty dropped the #45 WF01 down to sixth place.
In GT1, Antonio Garcia and Tomas Enge did what they needed to do in their effort to secure the class crown, knowing they had to win to stand any chance of taking the title. The victory proved to be in vain however as Guillaume Moreau and Patrice Goueslard adopted a conservative approach to take the flag in third place – the pair being split by the Lamborghini of Peter Kox and Romain Rusinov that had started from pole. The Strakka Racing Aston Martin took fourth as all of the GT1 contingent made it to the finish.
Victory for Virgo Motorsport in GT2 ensured that Rob Bell successfully defending his title, although the Briton clinched the crown alone with regular partner Gianmaria Bruni away on FIA GT duties with AF Corse. As a result, Jaime Melo shared driving duties in the Ferrari as the team took a home win.
Second went to the Porsche of Marc Lieb and Alex Davison with third going to the Farnbacher Racing Ferrari of Pierre Kaffer, Pierre Ehret and Antony Beltoise.
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