Between the Peugeot – Audi battle, the return of Pescarolo Team, the arrival of Nissan engines in LMP2 and the appearance of Lotus Evoras and Ferrari 458 Italias in GTE Pro, this 79th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans led to a fine race being predicted. The 249,500 spectators present did not come for nothing: the 2011 edition will go down as an exceptional vintage!
Following the two 24-hour races and despite the sister cars spectacularly leaving the track on occasions, it was in the end the Audi No.2 which won the day by crossing the chequered flag … only 15 seconds ahead of the Peugeot No.8. Benoit Tréluyer (who obtained the pole and driver of Team Motul Autech in SuperGT!), André Lotterer and Marcel Fassler will remain the heroes of this enthralling race.
So close to a miracle …
Still in LMP1, Team Pescarolo also came close to victory. Solidly fifth-placed (ahead of the Peugeot Oreca Matmut No.10) less than three hours from the chequered flag, nothing nor nobody appeared able to prevent Henri Pescarolo's men from wearing the honorific crown of best petrol team of the class. Unfortunately, the dream which seemed so close came to an end at exactly 12h53. Trapped by fleeting rainfall in the first of the Porsche turns, Emmanuel Collard could not get back on track after violently coming off it. What a pity...
A Nissan can hide another one!
In the LMP2 class, the Nissan teams supported technically by Motul clearly showed their supremacy. Indeed, the Oreca 03 of Team Oreca Matmut (Halliday – Prémat – Kraihamer) long set the pace by dominating the class until the early hours when David Halliday made a mistake, trapped by his cold tyres. The penalty was immediate with the disqualification of the Oreca No.48 from the race at 6h41. After lying in ambush for several hours, the Zytek Nissan No.41 of team Greaves Motorsport (Ojjeh – Lombard – Kimber Smith) then demonstrated that 'slow and steady wins the race' is the prime rule in Endurance by taking a really merited class victory.
Faultless performance for Larbre Compétition
After its win in 2010 in the GT1 class, the team managed by Jack Leconte once again shone in the Sarthe. At the wheel of the Corvette C6.R, the trio Bornhauser – Canal – Gardel will go down in history as the first team to have won the brand new class GTE Am reserved for teams comprising at least one amateur driver. This team finished just ahead of the Porsche No.70, also entered by Team Larbre Compétition and driven brilliantly by the team Belloc – Bourret – Gibon.
Now that the 24 Hours of Le Mans is over, the next meeting is at Imola on 1, 2 and 3 July for the fourth round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup.
Image : © David Reygondeau