Emmanuel Collard and Jean-Christophe Boullion have steered their Pescarolo to a stunning lights-to-flag victory in the Istanbul 1000km, the final round of the Le Mans Endurance Series, which in the process allowed them to overhaul the Zytek of Hayanari Shimoda in the championship standings.

Their victory not only earned the French pair the drivers' title, but three-time Le Mans winner Henri Pescarolo saw his hard work converting his chassis to the new hybrid regulations rewarded as the teams' title also went his way.

With rain falling around the track, the race was as much about strategy as it was about speed and that was the deciding factor of the championship outcome as the Pescarolo changed their tyres at each stop, while the Zytek kept the same tyres after their first stop, which turned out to be a mistake that cost them dearly.

As a result Shimoda, along with team mates Tom Chilton and Casper Elgaard, could only manage fourth place, two positions down on the second place they needed to secure the championship no matter of the Pescarolo's win.

The Audi R8's European swansong may not have been the victory they were hoping for but with the wet conditions suiting the car better than the Pescarolo, Allan McNish and Stephane Ortelli found themselves closing gradually on their French rivals. However, the duo ran out of time, although they did finish on the same lap after five laps.

The podium was rounded off by the Creation of Nicholas Minassian, Jean-Denis Delatraz and Jamie Campbell-Walters, who held off the Zytek to end a successful year on a high.

A delighted Boullion admits he was worried by the tricky conditions. "The track conditions at the end of the race were doubtful, and I was expecting to see a red flag or a safety car," said Boullion. "It was very difficult to keep the car on the track, even in second gear."

"Emmanuel told us it was a critical situation with the aquaplaning, and we decided to change the tyres at each pit stop," said Pescarolo. "That was a difficult choice because we would lose around 15 seconds each stop, and we did not know what we would gain on the track. It was a difficult choice, but a winning choice."

In the LMP2 class, British driver Gareth Evans took the title and his Chamberlain Synergy grabbed the teams' accolade, having finished second on the road in Turkey. Former Le Mans winner Guy Smith started the race on intermediate tyres, and led the class. Co-driver Peter Owen spun off in the final hour though they recovered to take the flag.

Evans' co-driver Bob Berridge, who jointly led the point standings before the race in Istanbul, was involved in the GP Masters event in Kayalami and was forced to miss the race.

BMS Scuderia Italia won the GT1 title in the Care Racing-prepared Ferrari 550 Maranello. Michele Bartyan, Christian Pescatori and Toni Seiler won the title ahead of their BMS team-mate Matteo Cressoni by virtue of having won twice compared to Cressoni's single victory at the opening round at Spa.

Christophe Bouchut and Alexey Vasiliev took third in the championship in the Convers Team Ferrari 550 Maranello. As BMS Scuderia Italia may take only one automatic entry to Le Mans, the Russian-entered team will earn the second.

Nathan Kinch and Andrew Kirkaldy won the GT2 event for the Scuderia Ecosse Ferrari 360 Modena team, but the title had already been decided in favour of Xavier Pompidou and Marc Lieb in the Sebah Porsche. The race was decided on the final lap as Luca Drudi challenged for the win and spun. The Italian recovered to finish second.

 

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