Aston Martin Racing claimed a dramatic victory for its new LMP1 coupe in the opening round of the Le Mans Series at Barcelona today.
The lead AMR Lola-Aston, driven by Stefan Mucke, Jan Charouz and Tomas Enge, looked destined to finish second until the leading Pescarolo-Judd stalled at its final pit stop. This allowed a charging Mucke to drastically cut the gap to Pescarolo driver Christophe Tinseau.
The Frenchman's lead was down to 6.2 seconds when the safety car was deployed with 40 minutes to go. Mucke was only four seconds behind when the race went green and needed less than six laps to close down and then pass the Pescarolo.
Tinseau, who shared the revised Pescarolo-Judd 01 with Jean-Christophe Boullion, eventually finished 14 seconds down at the chequered flag.
The second AMR entry looked set to finish third until Miguel Ramos spun in the closing stages and was unable to restart. That allowed the number two AIM-powered Couarge-ORECA, in which Bruno Senna joined team regular Stephane Ortelli, to claim the final spot on the podium.
Fourth place went to sports car debutant Signature Racing, whose Judd-engined Courage-ORECA had a largely trouble-free run in the hands of Pierre Ragues and Frank Mailleux. The pole-winning Strakka Racing Ginetta-Zytek, driven by Danny Watts, Peter Hardman and Nick Leventis, finished fifth.
LMP2 honors went to the Italian Racing Box team. Its lead Lola-Judd coupe enjoyed a faultless run in the hands of Thomas Biagi, Matteo Bobbi and Andrea Piccinni to claim a 46-second victory over the ASM Team Ginetta-Zytek driven by Olivier Pla and Miguel Amaral.
The Reiter-run IPB Spartak Lamborghini Murcielago took the GT1 silverware. The Italian car driven by Peter Kox and Romain Rusinov was the fastest car in class but only assumed the lead when team owner Luc Alphand spun his Chevrolet Corvette C6.R in the third hour.
Porsche reasserted itself in GT2. Factory drivers Richard Lietz and Marc Lieb took the class honors aboard their Felbermayr Proton Porsche 911 GT3-RSR ahead of Rob Bell and Gianmaria Bruni in the JMW Motorsport Ferrari.
Results to follow