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First blood to Audi as Oreca-Peugeot stumbles early on

As Oreca-Peugeot stumbles and sees its competitive edge blunted by reliability woes, Audi is there to pick up the pieces as Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Dindo Capello sweep to victory at Paul Ricard
It was first blood to Audi in the battle of the titans in the 2010 Le Mans Series curtain-raiser at Paul Ricard, as the Ingolstadt manufacturer's trusty and indomitable trio of Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Rinaldo 'Dindo' Capello took advantage of problems for the pace-setting Oreca Peugeot to sweep to a comfortable victory on the competitive debut of the new Audi R15 Plus.

The challenge of the pole-sitting Oreca-Matmut Peugeot 908 HDi FAP of ex-Monaco Grand Prix-winner Olivier Panis, qualifying star Nicolas Lapierre and twice Le Mans 24 Hours runner-up Stéphane Sarrazin fell apart early on when an air jack issue led to an 18-minute pit-stop – the equivalent of around 14 laps of the southern French circuit. Given that the all-homegrown line-up took the chequered flag just eight laps behind the race-winner, that only went to demonstrate what might have been.

Their troubles, however, opened the door for Audi to pounce, and the ultra-reliable, multiple Le Mans winners did not require a second invitation. In front of almost 14,000 spectators, Kristensen, McNish and Capello eased to a five-lap triumph over the Aston Martin Racing Lola of Adrian Fernandez, Harold Primat and Stefan Mücke. Jean-Christophe 'Jules' Boullion, Andrea Belicchi and Guy Smith completed the LMP1 rostrum for Rebellion Racing.

The heavily-delayed Oreca-Peugeot and the sister, AIM-powered machine of Soheil Ayari, Didier André and Loïc Duval wound up respectively fourth and fifth outright, with the Signature-Plus Lola of Pierre Ragues, Franck Mailleux and Vanina Ickx completing the top half dozen.

In LMP2, the Strakka Racing entry of Danny Watts, Jonny Kane and Nick Leventis pipped long-time leader Oak Racing (Guillaume Moreau/Richard Hein) at the last, with the two cars being classified seventh and eighth overall, and first and second in class. Ninth and third in LMP2 was the RML machine of Andy Wallace, Mike Newton and Tommy Erdos.

In GT2, finally, Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz achieved glory for Felbermayr Proton, with team-mates Martin Ragginger, team owner Christian Ried and Patrick Long making it a one-two a couple of laps further down. Arguably the most popular result of the day, though, was local hero Jean Alesi mounting the bottom step of the GT2 podium in company with AF Corse Ferrari driving partners Giancarlo Fisichella and Toni Vilander on the French-Sicilian's LMS bow.

To see the race results in full, click here



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
2010 Huit Heures du Castellet, Paul Ricard [pic credit: Le Mans Series]
McNish/Kristensen/Capello, Audi R15 TDi, Huit Heures du Castellet, Paul Ricard, 2010 [pic credit: Le Mans Series]
Nick Tandy KCMG Oreca 05 Nissan
Nick Tandy KCMG Oreca 05 Nissan
Nick Tandy KCMG Oreca 05 Nissan
Nick Tandy KCMG Oreca 05 Nissan
Podium (l-r) Romain Dumas / Neel Jani / Marc Lieb Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid, Timo Bernhard / Mark Webber / Brendon Hartley Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid, Marcel Fassler / Andre Lotterer / Benoit Treluyer Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro
Podium (l-r) Romain Dumas / Neel Jani / Marc Lieb Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid, Timo Bernhard / Mark Webber / Brendon Hartley Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid, Marcel Fassler / Andre Lotterer / Benoit Treluyer Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro
P2 Podium (l-r) Romain Rusinov / Julien Canal / Sam Bird G-Drive Racing Ligier JS P2 Nissan, Matthew Howson / Richard Bradley / Nick Tandy KCMG Oreca 05 Nissan, Gustavo Yacaman / Luis Felipe Derani / Ricardo Gonzalez G-Drive Racing Ligier JS P2 Nissan
P1 Podium (l-r) Nicolas Prost / Mathias Beche / Nick Heidfeld Rebellion Racing Rebellion R1 AER, Simon Trummer / Pierre Kaffer Team Bykolles CLM P1/01 AER
P1 Podium (l-r) Nicolas Prost / Mathias Beche / Nick Heidfeld Rebellion Racing Rebellion R1 AER, Simon Trummer / Pierre Kaffer Team Bykolles CLM P1/01 AER
Matthew Howson / Nick Tandy KCMG Oreca 05 Nissan
Matthew Howson KCMG Oreca 05 Nissan
Matthew Howson KCMG Oreca 05 Nissan
GT AM Podium (l-r) Paul Dalla Lana / Pedro Lamy / Mathias Lauda Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage V8, Victor Shaytar / Andrea Bertonlini / Aleksey Basov SMP Racing Ferrari F458 Italia, Francois Perrodo / Emmanuel Collard / Rui Aguas AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia
GT AM Podium (l-r) Paul Dalla Lana / Pedro Lamy / Mathias Lauda Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage V8, Victor Shaytar / Andrea Bertonlini / Aleksey Basov SMP Racing Ferrari F458 Italia, Francois Perrodo / Emmanuel Collard / Rui Aguas AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia
Marcel Fassler Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro
Richard Bradley KCMG Oreca 05 Nissan

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TooBored - Unregistered

April 12, 2010 9:32 AM

'an air jack issue led to an 18-minute pit-stop the equivalent of around 14 laps... took the chequered flag just eight laps behind the race-winner, that only went to demonstrate what might have been.' Yes indeed, audi engineers must've realised this and working hard to close the gap by lemans.

TooBored - Unregistered

April 13, 2010 12:14 AM

While i do agree it might have been a close race but audi is not as dominant as they once were. The pug did set a pole time 1/2 sec faster than the audis. For a brand "new car" to be setting a pace about the same as a 3 year old pug is just ridicoulous. And to think this is not even a factory pug (its being run by oreca unlike in sebring), it makes me wonder just how fast is this "new" r15+? (btw isnt r15+ is the code for their dtm challenger?) Audi is playing catch up imo and they better have a competent challenger in 2011 for the 90X.



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