Peugeot Sport celebrated a winning return to action in the Le Mans Series after Nic Minassian, Simon Pagenaud and Christian Klien took victory at Spa in the final dress rehearsal for the Le Mans 24 Hours.
The trio produced a solid performance at the wheel of the diesel-powered 908 and came home comfortably clear of the second-placed Pescarolo – despite a late Safety Car period which closed the field up for a dash to the flag.
Peugeot's hopes of a 1-2 finish ended when the sister car of David Brabham, Alex Wurz and Marc Gene was involved in contact on track and suffered a damaged wishbone, which led to a long pit stop, before a four minute stop go was handed out for avoidable contact. The car eventually finished outside the top ten.
"With Le Mans fast approaching, today's win has done the team a great deal of good and I am very pleased with our overall performance here at Spa,” team boss Olivier Quesnel said. “We came here to prepare for next month's big race and everything went very smoothly. Despite five safety car interventions, we didn't make any strategic errors. The two cars were running to different strategies on different tyres, but both double stinted. David's error prevented us from finishing first and second, but that's part and parcel of motor racing. We now have more private testing to come before Le Mans and, following today's race, I have to say that the petrol and diesel cars seem very close in performance terms."
The Pescarolo of Jean-Christophe Boullion and Christophe Tinseau took second place and managed to stay on the same lap as the Peugeot, while the podium was completed by the #009 Lola Aston Martin after a fine drive from Jan Charouz, Tomas Enge and Stefan Mucke saw the car come through from the back of the field.
Team Oreca had been in contention for a podium finish with Olivier Panis and Nicolas Lapierre, but the pair lost their chance of third when they were held in pit lane during the late Safety Car period – ironically called for after Bruno Senna destroyed the sister car in a high-speed off at Blanchimont. The #007 Lola Aston Martin took fifth ahead of the first of the Kolles Audi R10s, with Andy Meyrick, Narain Kartikeyan and Charles Zwolsman in sixth.
LMP2 honours went to Team Essex on its first outing of the year with the Porsche RS Spyder, with Casper Elgaard, Manu Collard and Krisitan Poulsen coming home clear of the Speedy Racing and Racing Box Lolas.
The three car GT1 battle went the way of Luc Alphand Aventures from IPB Spartak Racing and debutants Jetalliance - with the Aston Martin team suffering a number of issues during the race – while the GT2 race was won by the Team Felbermayr-Proton Porsche of Marc Lieb, Richard Lietz and Horst Felbermayr, ahead of the Team Modena and JMW Motorsport Ferraris.