FFSA GT Report (2) – Le Mans, October 15
Ayari & Hernandez Wrap It Up

The start, in overcast conditions, was troublefree, unlike Saturday’s race, but poleman Soheil Ayari lost two places at the first chicane.

Makowiecki (#10 Mirabeau Viper) got ahead of Policand (#2 Larbre Ferrari 550) and Ayari (#9 ANAVEO Oreca Saleen). Dumez (#24 PSI Corvette) was in fourth place ahead of Gardel (#7 Larbre Ferrari 550 – the restrictorless car). The three leaders widened a gap over their challengers.

Behind the first five cars, a bunch of Vipers was fighting hard: Laserre (#14 Tarrès Team), Thévenin (#1 VBM), Zangarelli (#12 CD Sport) and Giroix (#4 First Racing). Palttala (#25 PSI C6.R) and Cayrolle (#26 SRT C5-R) were charging after the Vipers.

Soheil Ayari was pushing and was soon in Policand's mirrors. Makowiecki took advantage of this battle to escape for a while, while Dumez was now very close to the leaders, as was the field, because there were only thirteen seconds between the first eleven cars.

Ayari attacked carefully and succeeded in passing Policand at the Garage Vert after 20 minutes. However the front cover of the Saleen began to break loose. He chose to pit to change the cover and to be replaced by Bruno Hernandez. The other (quick) drivers decided to stay longer on the track. Maowiecki had a small gap on Policand and Dumez, Gabiele Gardel being in fourth place a bit further back.

After all the driver changes, Blanchemain (#24 PSI Corvette) was in the lead, ahead of Balthazard (#2 Larbre Ferrari 550), Police (#10 Mirabeau Viper) and Hernandez (#9 Oreca Saleen) who had passed Kuismanen (#25 PSI C6.R). Hernandez was a flyer and passed Police first, then Balthazard.

Finally, within eleven minutes of the chequered flag, he overtook Blanchemain, the Saleen taking its seventh 2007 win. Kuismanen succeeded in taking a very good second, with Blanchemain third in the other PSI Corvette. Balthazard, Dupard (#7 Larbre Ferrari), Bornhauser (#1 VBM Viper), Police and Debard (#14 Tarrès Viper) were fighting and in the late stages: Bornhauser was the winner of this fight ahead of Balthazard.

Kenis and Cayrolle finished ninth in this one, in one of the SRT Corvettes, after their second on Saturday.

This is one of the photographs of the season (by David Fontayne): Ayari shouts with joy, Hernandez crossing the line in front of him.

In the GT2 Trophy, Eric Hélary (#44 Ruffier RACING Dodge Viper GT3) was in the lead during his stint, ahead of Monteiro's #37 Estoril Porsche and Michel Lecourt (#36 IMSA Porsche), but after the driver changes, Narac (IMSA Porsche) eventually took the win ahead of the Monteiro brothers and Hélary / Medici.

So a title for the seven-time winners, and this coming weekend, the FFSA GT cars will have a handful of British GT cars among them, led no doubt by the ‘French’ Panoz of Tomlinson and Dean.

Soheil Ayari: “The start was a bit difficult : I really didn't know whether if I wanted to keep my position or if I had to think about the title. Due to the ballast, I had to brake earlier than my pursuers and I lost. Then it was not easy to pass them back. During the first ten laps, I was not quicker than the others, and then it changed. The only place where I could make the difference was the Garage Vert. I tried some brakings, bit I was a bit ‘shy’, which I am not used to. Then my front cover began to break loose, so I had to pit early. Bruno Hernandez did a great job. He started from the back and passed everyone. In these moments, you are very pleased to have a good partner. I had been very proud to share my drive with Bruno throughout the season. In 2002, I was French Supertourisme Champion while Bruno won the Supertpourisme French Cup and now we are champions together. Oreca did a great job. The Saleen has been improved throughout the year, we know it very well, and we have reached a fair level of reliability. We are delighted with this title for our team and for our partners.'

Bruno Hernandez: “Title or not, I wanted this win. I didn't want to be champion when finishing behind the others. During the season, I had much pressure, I have been asked to be careful, and there I went for it. I wanted to prove to everyone that I could be quick and win some races while taking some risks. We are very pleased with the work of Oreca. At the start of the season, the Saleen wasn't so reliable and so quick. I believe that the work of Oreca in the Le Mans Series has been fruitful. Now, my aim is to be within a second of Soheil's lap times. There's still some work to do... "

Pertti Kuismanen: “Our second place isn't enough, but as we started from the eleventh position on the grid, it is not so bad. Markus was delayed in the traffic for several laps, and then he could move up to sixth place. So, I pushed hard as much as I could. In the late stages, I was on the fuel reserve, the engine was hicupping and I was worried by Jean-Luc Blanchemain's comeback. Soheil Ayari and Bruno Hernandez did a great job, we did our best, but the Championship was settled at Val de Vienne. I believe that we will be here again next year to play for the title."

Sébastien Dumez: “The Corvette is efficient and doesn't wear the tyres too much. With a full tank, it was a bit difficult, but afterwards the car stayed consistent and fast, so I could catch the leaders at the end of my stint. The car is efficient, it is a good try. We were aiming for a podium, and we've done it."

Jean-Luc Blanchemain: “Some quicker cars came after me during m stint, and I didn't resist too much.. I am very pleased with this result with the Corvette. At Magny-Cours we'll have our Viper again. I am consideing some options, but I still don't know which car I'll drive next year. One thing is sure, Sébastien Dumez is going to leave me!”

Raymond Narac: “We weren't very quick, because we had a problem with the rear bumper, and the car was hard to drive. However, we had a good strategy. Magny-Cours will be my last GT2 race, for I should be in the GT1 category next year."

Philippe Tillie ( PSI Expérience Team Manager / Owner): “I am very pleased with my line-ups this weekend. Second and third today, it is fine. Our misfortune during the qualifying session cost us the win, maybe. We had contenders who were too strong for us and we made some mistakes, as at Dijon and Val de Vienne. We haven't decided anything yet for next year, everything is open. We have several options that we are considering. If my entry is accepted, I would like PSI Experience to race in the 24 Hours at least once."
Claude Foubert

With thanks to Frédéric Espinos, with images by David Fontayne.

1 HERNANDEZ Bruno Oreca Saleen S7-R GT1 1:01:39.612 1:35.701 / 3
2 KUISMANEN Pertti PSI Expérience Chevrolet Corvette C6.R GT1 1:01:43.606 03.994 1:36.027 / 15
3 DUMEZ Sébastien PSI Expérience Chevrolet Corvette C5-R GT1 1:01:49.653 10.041 1:35.778 / 6
4 BORNHAUSER Patrick V B M Chrysler Viper GTS-R GT1 1:01:54.927 15.315 1:37.124 / 3
5 BALTHAZARD Gabriel Larbre - SOFREV Ferrari 550 Maranello GT1 1:01:55.406 15.794 1:35.704 / 4
6 DEBARD Eric Tarrès Team Chrysler Viper GTS-R GT1 1:01:55.864 16.252 1:37.004 / 20
7 DUPARD Olivier Larbre Compettion Ferrari 550 Maranello GT1 1:01:56.786 17.174 1:35.863 / 8
8 MAKOWIECKI Frederic MTO Mirabeau Chrysler Viper GTS-R GT1 1:02:00.051 20.439 1:35.677 / 3
9 GUINO Kenis S R T Chevrolet Corvette C5-R GT1 1:02:11.152 31.540 1:36.848 / 8
10 HELIAS Cyril First Racing Chrysler Viper GTS-R GT1 1:02:40.019 1:00.407 1:38.256 / 22
11 LAGNIEZ Jean Claude Cine Cascade Chrysler Viper GTS-R GT1 1:03:00.302 1:20.690 1:37.218 / 3
12 BERVILLE Roland Euroflash Autovitesse Chrysler Viper GTS-R GT1 1:03:09.632 1:30.020 1:38.336 / 5
13 VANNELET Gilles Sport Garage Chrysler Viper GTS-R GT1 1:01:41.950 1 lap 1:38.464 / 12
14 BRANDELA Romain S R T Chevrolet Corvette C5-R GT1 1:01:50.635 1 lap 1:38.931 / 9
15 NARAC Raymound IMSA Performance - MATMUT Porsche 996 RSR GT2 1:02:47.791 1 lap 1:41.213 / 28
16 MONTEIRO Claude Estoril Racing Porsche 996 RSR GT2 1:02:53.805 1 lap 1:41.563 / 7
17 TUCHBANT David First Racing Chrysler Viper GTS-R GT1 1:01:42.775 2 laps 1:37.135 / 5
18 MILOE Jean Louis Red Racing Chrysler Viper GTS-R GT1 1:01:48.798 2 laps 1:42.566 / 7
19 MEDICI Roland Ruffier Racing Dodge Viper GT3 GT2 1:02:25.042 2 laps 1:40.867 / 4
20 CORMORECHE Didier Tarrès Team Chrysler Viper GTS-R GT1 1:02:29.426 2 laps 1:41.200 / 25
21 MOUEZ Eric Protek Porsche 911 GT3 RS GT2 1:03:10.925 2 laps 1:42.330 / 7
22 ROUSSEAU Vincent Pilotage Passion Dodge Viper GT3 GT2 1:03:30.676 2 laps 1:44.711 / 27
23 RODRIGUES Julien Hexis Racing Porsche 996 Cup GT2 1:01:51.347 3 laps 1:45.318 / 32
24 BAUDINIERE Philippe Nourry Compétition Porsche 996 Cup GT2 1:02:23.140 3 laps 1:44.002 / 3
25 LEVY Philippe Riverside Porsche 996 RS GT2 1:02:26.588 3 laps 1:45.651 / 6
26 BOURDAIS Patrick Larbre Compettion Dodge Viper GT3 GT2 1:03:26.204 3 laps 1:45.355 / 4
27 ROMAIN Yvon Red Racing Lister Storm GT1 45:57.408 11 laps 1:39.000 / 4
28 DUBREUIL Bruno CD Sport Chrysler Viper GTS-R GT1 3:42.390 35 laps 1:49.507 / 2


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