dailysportscar.com

LMES - Nurburgring 1000 Kms - Race Report 1
Hour 1

Starting Drivers
Minassian
Kaffer
Herbert
Ara
Ayari
Gounon
Stack
Erdos
Barbosa
Nielsen
Gosselin
Bartels
Bouchut
Bouvet
Biagi
Hezemans
Maddalena
Haezebrouck
Favre
Rostan
Bennett
Abbelen
Halliday
Rockenfeller
Maassen
Daoudi
Kaufmann - DNS (engine)
Lavaggi
Kurosawa
Collard
Morini
Liddell
Pompidou
Collin
Mountain
Heidens
Stepec ?
Mundy
Ickx
Ingram
Gsell.

We've had a great first hour's racing. The hour mark just about coincided with the first stops for the leading group, which then found quite heavy rain coming down. The two Veloqx Audis stayed out on slicks, while the only car to challenge them, the DBA of Minassian, made a second stop for wets.

Until those pit stops, we'd had a very good three car race for half an hour: the DBA led, but was then passed by Kaffer and Herbert on either side, simultaneously on lap 5. That was actually Herbert and Kaffer, these two already having had one side by side (with contact) moment. Herbert was held up by Rostan's Pilbeam on lap 8, Kaffer taking the lead... and pulling away quite noticeably. We've checked with Audi PR man Martyn Pass, and Johnny Herbert was making no complaints at all about his car - but he just wasn't lapping as fast as Kaffer. The #8 car seems to have the advantage here. Herbert held off Minassian for many laps, the DBA finally nipping past at the first corner starting lap 25, and pulling away.

Seiji Ara had been in fifth early on, but got the better of Ayari's Pescarolo soon enough, but unlike the two silver and purple R8s, the Le Mans winner did pit for wets just after the hour, dropping a lap behind. Tommy Erdos really found some form just before the hour (and the rain) lapping in under 1:50 and looking strong in sixth, a position he took over from a strong-early-on John Nielsen in the Lister. The red and white LMP then ran in a secure seventh, ahead of a relatively slow-starting Barbosa, on his hard rubber. With John Stack then up to seventh, Gounon eighth (LMP2) leader, Barbosa ninth (early stop) and Belmondo tenth, we had Gounon was miles quicker than anyone else in the class, and despite dropping to 20th early on (a spin? - no, he started from the back, apparently) he soon marched back up the order, into the top ten, and into the class lead.

GTS was the expected Bartels / Bouchut battle, the Saleen ahead for most of the hour, until Bouchut passed on lap 18 - but was then chopped by the Auto Palace 360 at the first corner, and spinning down to (still) second place, 50 seconds down. The GNM and yellow Konrad Saleens battled with the Besson Viper for third in class, until the Viper was pushed into its garage.

GT saw a very good four way fight between Maassen, Rockenfeller, Daoudi and Freisinger (plus the impressive Auto Palace Ferrari until its contact with Bouchut), and as the rain fell, Rockenfeller in the #81 was notified that he had to take a one minute stop and go penalty.

Liddell was two laps down after an early gravel visit, other problems delaying the 99 Pilbeam (engine) and the Renauer LMP2 (clutch, right at the start).

Nipping into hour 2, at 80+ minutes, the still slick-shod Kaffer was stuck in the gravel - and then towed out. Herbert by then was on wets, the only cars apart from Kaffer on slicks being Liddell and Pompidou's. Herbert and Minassian were suddenly racing for the lead.

It's very wet indeed here...

NB. A visit from Wolfgang Kaufmann and we find that the turbo Porsche broke an anti-roll bar mounting in qualifying earlier today... which was fixed easily enough, but it broke again on the formation lap, and when the German pitted, the team again found water in the oil, causing them to withdraw the car. The engine problem (twice) follows 60 hours running with the first unit - with no problems at all. "That's racing," said our genial Nordschleife host.

 

              Contents Copyright © dailysportscar.com. All Rights Reserved.