Posted by: porschebahn | May 11, 2009

Le Mans Series round 2 at Spa-Francorchamps Race report

Spa-Francorchamps 1
Double success with wins for the RS Spyder and the 911 GT3 RSR

Round two of the Le Mans Series was another crowning success for Porsche. In a heart-stopping finale, the RS Spyder snatched victory in the LMP2 class at its first race of the season – and with this continues last year’s success streak seamlessly. The Danish Essex team with Porsche works driver Emmanuel Collard (France), Casper Elgaard and Kristian Poulsen (both Denmark) held sway over strong competition in the LMP2 class at the end of the turbulent 1,000 kilometre race in Spa-Francorchamps. In the production-based GT2 class, both Porsche works drivers Marc Lieb (Germany) and Richard Lietz (Austria) triumphed again after delivering a spirited fight with the 911 GT3 RSR. With the second victory of the season, the pair extended their lead to 21 points. They now hold a six point advantage over their closest pursuer.

In the Le Mans Series, the RS Spyder has an immaculate record: By now, the sports prototype has secured victory at every race it has contested. Moreover, the customer teams racing the RS Spyder last year won all championship titles in the LMP2 class (driver, team and manufacturer).

Emmanuel Collard: “An unbelievably exciting race”

“That was an unbelievably exciting race,” summarised Emmanuel Collard, whose last race in the RS Spyder was in September 2008 and who this year drives for the Essex team as part of a three-man line-up at the Le Mans 24 Hours. “During my two-hour stint I had to avoid two crashes at the restart after safety car phases and lost my top position, which I luckily recaptured. Then my car got a slow puncture which cost me precious time and I was forced to make an unplanned pit stop. It’s just great racing with the RS Spyder. Now I can’t wait for Le Mans!” For Essex the Spa race was in preparation for the long distance classic on 13/14 June. “This victory is fantastic for us,” said regular Essex pilot Casper Elgaard. “The car, Michelin tyres and pit stops were perfect. A huge compliment to our newcomer Kristian Poulsen. This was his first race with a prototype that is so fast and has so much downforce. And then in the final phase we handed him the RS Spyder in the lead. Kristian rose to the challenge and brought the car home first in class. Now we are all dreaming of a Le Mans win.”

Second win for Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz

Works drivers Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz could also not complain about boredom. Having qualified the 911 run by the German Felbermayr-Proton team on pole, Lieb immediately moved into the lead of the GT2 class at the start and held onto this position for his stint. When Lieb climbed back into the vehicle, tyre damage relegated him back one lap. In a combined effort, the pair fought their way back to catch the leader and profited from their rivals time loss due to a puncture. “This race had all the ingredients of a thriller,” said Marc Lieb. “Good and back luck during the safety car phases, tyre damage and a nudge from a driver in a faster class. Early on the balance of our 911 wasn’t 100 percent, but we sorted it out during the race.” His team mate Lietz believed: “It was a tough fight today. The track was so slippery and dirty that we had to work incredibly hard from the first to the last lap. But we got the most out of the weekend with a point for pole and ten for the race. We now rank six points ahead of the Ferrari. That’s good.”

The French IMSA Performance Matmut team took up the race from second on the grid with optimism. Porsche works driver Patrick Pilet (France) was able to match the pace of the front-runners with his 911 GT3 RSR. A spin, however, of his team mate Raymond Narac, put him in the gravel and the pair had to settle for a disappointing sixth in class. The second Felbermayr-Porsche became the victim of a collision with an LMP vehicle. After a hefty crash, major repairs prevented the team from yielding any points. Drivers Christian Ried (Germany), Horst Felbermayr jr. (Austria) and Francisco Cruz Martins (Portugal) concluded the race in eleventh behind the Belgian Porsche team, Prospeed Competition.

Results and points’ standing

Statistics: 2nd of 5 races of the Le Mans Series in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium.

Result LMP2 class
1. Elgaard/Collard/Poulsen (DK/F/DK), Porsche RS Spyder, 139 laps
2. Kane/Leuenberger/Pompidou (GB/CH/F), Lola B08/80 Coupé – Judd, 139
3. Ceccato/Francioni/Piccini (I/I/I), Lola B08/80 Coupé – Judd, 137
4. Barazi/Rees (DK/BR), Zytek 07S – Zytek, 134
5. Lahaye/Ajlani (F/SYR), Pescarolo – Mazda, 132
6. Bruneau/Greaves/Coleman (F/GB/GB), Radical – AER, 129

Result GT2 class
1. Lietz/Lieb/Felbermayr. Sen. (A/D/A), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 129 laps
2. Garcia/Mansell/Melo (ES/GB/BR), Ferrari F430 GT, 129
3. Bell/Bruni (GB/I), Ferrari F430 GT, 128
4. Ehret/Farnbacher (D/D), Ferrari F430 GT, 128
5. Coronel/Dumbreck (NL/GB), Spyker C8 Laviolette GT2-R, 128
6. Pilet/Narac (F/F), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 127

Points’ standings GT2 class
1. Marc Lieb, Porsche, 21
Richard Lietz, Porsche, 21
2. Robert Bell, Ferrari, 15
Gianmaria Bruni, Ferrari, 15
3. Antonio Garcia, Ferrari, 12
Leo Mansell, Ferrari, 12
4. Pierre Ehret, Ferrari, 10
5. Allan Simonsen, Ferrari, 6
Christian Montanari, Ferrari, 6
6. Anthony Beltoise, Ferrari, 5

Manufacturer GT2
1. Ferrari, 29
2. Porsche, 26
3. Spyker, 4
4. Aston Martin, 3

The next race of the Le Mans Series takes place on 2 August on the new Circuit Algarve in Portugal.

Spa-Francorchamps 2

Spa-Francorchamps 3

Spa-Francorchamps 4

Spa-Francorchamps 5

Spa-Francorchamps 6

Spa-Francorchamps 7

Spa-Francorchamps 8

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