Le Mans Endurance Series (LMES)

               Silverstone 1000 Km 14th-16th September 2007

The Le Mans Series headed to Silverstone Circuit, England for the fifth round of the series. The previous round held at the majestic Spa-Franchorchamps Circuit resulted in victory for the Team Peugeot Total, Peugeot 908 HDi-FAP diesel driven by Pedro Lamy and Stephane Sarrazin. The Peugeot team had been dominant in the series so far taking wins in every round, with the Lamy/Sarrazin pairing winning at Valencia, Nurburgring and Spa, and Nicolas Minassian/Marc Gene winning at Monza. The main resistance to the flying Peugeots came from the ever present Pescarolo Sport Team, always ready to capitalise on any weakness or reliability problems that befell the 908 HDi FAP's. 2007 was the fourth time for the Le Mans Series at Silverstone since 2004. There was a one year gap in 2006 as the UK round took place at Donington.  Winning Marques in the earlier UK rounds were Audi in 2005 and 2006 at Silverstone, and Pescarolo Sport at Donington in 2006. The entry for the event was strong, with 45 cars destined to take the grid to compete in four classes over 1000 Km or six hours, whichever was reached first. Free practice took place on the Friday with two one hour sessions providing the teams with a good opportunity to familiarise themselves with the circuit, assess the performance of the cars and tyres, and to arrive at the optimum setup ready for the short twenty minute qualifying session on Saturday. The action was fast and furious for the qualifying, with such a short session. Predictably it was the Team Peugeot Total cars that ended fastest with Nicolas Minassian scoring his third pole position of the season and the fifth for the team in the number seven 908 HDi FAP, with an impressive lap time of 1 minute 31.692 seconds. The sister car driven by Pedro Lamy came in second fastest with a time of 1 minute 32.168 seconds. The Charouz Racing Lola Judd driven by Stefan Mucke was third fastest ahead of the Team LNT Zytek driven by Tom Kimber Smith, and fourth the RML MG Lola driven by Thomas Erdos. The Pescarolo Sport cars ended qualifying down in 6th and 9th position. The massive grid formed up in front of the grandstands, occupying almost the whole of the pits straight in readiness for the rolling start. The grid was very busy with team personnel, media and team guests milling around the superbly prepared and turned out cars in warm sunshine, conditions not always associated with Silverstone Circuit. From the start it was the Peugeot of Minassian/Gene that made the pace, supported by the sister car of Lamy/Sarrazin. The latter hit problems earlier on in the race but battled back to second, only to hit further problems as the race progressed. The car with Lamy at the wheel suffered a puncture but then after recovering was called in by the race stewards to have repairs made to the rear wing. This misfortune spelt the end for the car, as there was insufficient time remaining for the mechanics to carry out repairs. Meanwhile the Minassian/Gene car enjoyed a trouble free run to the flag, comfortably defeating the Pescarolo Sport of Jean Christophe Boullion and Emmanuel Collard. Third place went to the Rollcentre racing Pescarolo of Stuart Hall and Joao Barbosa. The great thing about races of this nature from a spectators viewpoint is that with 1000 Km or approx six hours until the flag drops there is plenty of time to explore the whole circuit and still get back to the start/finish area for the post race celebrations. We certainly took that opportunity and saw some great racing and many, many overtaking manoeuvres at almost every part of the circuit. In particular the outside of Maggots and the approach to Becketts was very fast and spectacular, and the overtaking on Hangar Straight and the approach to Stowe Corner was amazing. Other impressive areas to watch the cars in action were the Abbey Chicane and cresting the brow on the approach to Bridge Bend. The sight of the Peugeots ripping through the field and slicing past the back markers at these points was a sight to behold. What did seem rather odd though was the fact that the super fast diesel cars were almost silent in comparison to the rasping noise emanating from the majority of their competitors. The two Peugeots just made a dull whooshing sound as they sped past with the tyres making as much noise as the engines. You can only imagine how difficult it must be for the drivers of the fastest and slowest cars to cope with the speed differential and although there are racing accidents, they are relatively few given how much overtaking takes place. The marshalls should also be given credit here as they do a very professional job, alerting the slower drivers to the presence of a fast approaching car, with vigorous waving of the blue flags. Further down the field after the gruelling 1000 Km had been completed by the leading Peugeot, the LMP2 class was won by the Zytek of Juan Barazi/Michael Vergers and Karim Ojjeh, with the LNT Zytek of Tom Kimber Smith and Danny Watts in second place. GT1 class winners were Stephane Ortelli and Soheil Ayari, with GT2 honours taken by Robert Bell and Gianmaria Bruni for Virgo Motorsport. The Peugeot cars may have been very dominant and much faster than the majority of the field but there was a huge amount of action to be seen, and more overtaking than you could hope to see in a whole season of Formula One and some. With some strong supporting races the weekend provided a great experience for the spectators, who for once had pretty good weather throughout, into the bargain. The next stop and final round for the Le Mans Series takes place in Brazil, at the Interlagos circuit on 9-10-11 November. We've put together a great image gallery from the Silverstone 1000 Km weekend, which can be accessed by clicking on the link below.

Links
Silverstone 1000 Kms 2007 Gallery

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