Allan McNish and Pierre Kaffer turned the tables on their Audi UK Team Veloqx team by winning round two of the new Le Mans Endurance Series at the Nurburgring.

McNish showed that he had no lasting effects from his shunt in the Le Mans 24 Hours by taking over from his German team-mate to drive the second half of the 1000km event and bringing the #8 Audi R8 home over a lap ahead of the #88 sister machine of Johnny Herbert and Jamie Davies, who were forced to take second spot as they had at La Sarthe.

Although the Creation Zytek qualified on pole, it was the Veloqx Audis that proved to be the strongest combination in what turned out to be a timed race over six hours. The Team Goh Audi also led at times, but the majority of the running was made by Kaffer, who started the #8, and Herbert, who drove another marathon stint in the #88.

The real talking point of the race, however, was the weather, which played havoc with strategies up and down the pit-lane. A brief shower right at the start merely heralded what was to come, with a combination of torrential downpours and lighter drizzle kept the teams on their toes, but the outcome was also affected by the speed at which the Nurburgring tarmac dried between the showers.

Both the Veloqx cars suffered spins, particularly Kaffer, who beached the #8 in the turn gravel and required a tow to rejoin, and there were incidents up and down the field.

The Team Goh Audi should have claimed third spot to complete an R8 top three, but was found by the spinning JWR Porsche and required a lengthy late pit-stop to repair its real suspension. This allowed possibly the star of the show - the Creation DBA-Zytek - to climb back into third spot, with Nicolas Minassian particularly impressive as he spent the early part of the race dicing with Herbert and the Audis.

Behind the Goh Audi, the lone Pescarolo completed the top five, ahead of the Rollcentre Dallara and RML Lola, which both suffered their fair share of problems but continued to plug away to the end. Rollcentre newcomer Patrick Pearce had a particularly fraught debut after copping some of the worst weather, but acquitted himself well in the trying conditions.

With the LMP2 category proving as fragile as it had at Le Mans last month, the leading GTS contender again featured in the top ten overall. However, just as had been the case at Monza prior to the 24 Hours, the Vitaphone Saleen would not be the recipient of top honours, the Alzen/Bartels/Konrad car again falling foul of late problems to drop behind the metronomic Larbre Ferrari 550. On this occasion, the black-and-aqua S7 finished the race, but was on the tail of the Ferrari when the flag fell.

The top ten was rounded out by the Graham Nash Saleen of Gianmaria Gabbiani and LMES debutant Phil Bennett, who both kept their noses as clean as possible in the conditions to come home ahead of both Barron Connor Ferraris, and the prototype stragglers.

The winning GT class entry also beat all of the LMP2 machines, with Cirtek duo Adam Jones and Sascha Maassen bringing their Porsche home in twelfth spot, behind the #61 Barron Connor car, which survived a 'tank-slapper' in the twilight hours. The Freisinger Porsche claimed second in GT, ahead of the Sebah example crewed by Xavier Pompidou and Marino Franchitti.

The best of the small prototypes turned out to be the Welter WR, which had inherited top spot after Sam Hancock spun and stalled the 'works' Courage - which had earlier started from the pits with starter motor problems. The Courage, crewed by Hancock, Jean-Marc Gounon and Alex Frei, had led for a long time but had reason to thank the misfortune of others for its second place. The rival Belmondo Courage retired with a loss of drive midway through the race, while the PiR Pilbeam was nearly five laps down on the class leader at the end.

Comments

Loading Comments...