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Le Mans 1000 Km – Four British Efforts (1 - PK Sport)
dsc’ers pounded out the news during the race, to the extent that we did tell a good percentage of the tales by the time the race finished at 18.00 on November 9.

Not all by any means though. Here’s the first of four closer looks at four British teams at the Le Mans 1000 Km: Lister Storm Racing, Fred Goddard Racing, RML and PK Sport. More on Thursday.

PK Sport – Oh So Very Nearly
Just as Seikel (on race tyres) and Freisinger couldn’t get within half a second of the Cirtek Ferrari in Qualifying, so PK Sport’s Porsche couldn’t either.

It was a different matter in the wet warm up though, which seemed to throw the GT class wide open: The order was Seikel (Mowlem, in the wettest opening 15 minutes!), Jubin, Sebah, Scuderia Ecosse, PK, Cirtek, System Force and Freisinger.

The main contenders (once Seikel hit trouble) turned out to be those who were fifth, sixth and eighth fastest in the warm up.

Robin Liddell was the star of the first 100 minutes of the GT race, pitting for Jean-Philippe Belloc to take over and explaining that he’d had at least six contacts with other cars, and had taken the lead from Ortelli as the Panoz GTP passed them both. “I ended up in the middle, and touched both of them, but got past Ortelli in the process,” explained the Scot.

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Dunlop wets might have been the rubber to have at the start, but the Pirellis came into their own as the track eventually started to dry out – by which time the Ferrari was the fastest car, as it had been on Thursday and before. But in the second stint, PK’s inters were working rather well, so that when the Safety Car appeared, with Liddell in the lead (as Belloc had been at 14.00), the Audi R8 split the yellow Porsche from the rest. Advantage PK, a lap ahead of the chasers. That’s the way it works in ACO-type racing.

There then followed some classic GT stuff – at the tail of the queue: while Cirtek and Freisinger had a lap to make up on a clear track, Liddell had to fight his way through the GT ranks. It was great entertainment. The Scot simply couldn’t afford to lose significant time, so he scrapped his way through them at almost unabated speed.

And PK still led at 16.00. They didn’t lead at 17.00, but did at 17.02, because the Cirtek Ferrari had just made its last pit stop. Poor Belloc had already had one puncture, so the dilemma after that was how hard should he now push (up to 17.00), to ensure a secure lead once the Ferrari popped out of the pits? Tense moments at PK – but Jean-Philippe was in control.

Then he acquired a second puncture with 20 minutes or so left. Who decides that one entry should have two punctures in its last stint?

Liddell: “Kieron, our chief mechanic, was gutted, absolutely gutted. His comment was that we were right on the pace and fighting all race long – and we led most of it. Coming third ensured the Le Mans entry, but we lost the dignity of a deserved victory – and were all left deflated, rather than elated. It took me a day or two to come to terms with it.”

Mike Pickup: “If you’d offered me third place on Sunday morning, I’d have taken it, of course I would. It could have been worse: say we’d had a mechanical failure rather than a puncture in the last hour? I’d have been slashing my wrists if that had happened.”

Robin Liddell again: “OK, the conditions the way they were favoured the Porsches: if it had been dry it would have been the Ferrari’s race anyway. But we had a great GT race, and we led most of it.”

And there haven’t been too many great GT races this year, with several teams in with a genuine chance at the win, have there?

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