The Peugeot trio of Stephane Sarrazin, Franck Montagny and Alexander Wurz scored the overall win at Petit Le Mans in their No. 8 Peugeot 908. The win clinched the manufacturer and team championships in the 2011 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, as Petit doubled as a round of the ILMC and American Le Mans Series seasons.
Sarrazin and Montagny score their third straight win at Petit Le Mans, and for Wurz, this gives him the trio of endurance racing classic victories on his CV. The Austrian has captured overall triumphs at the 12 Hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Le Mans in prior years.
“Our team reacted very well after (our early) stop-and-go,” Sarrazin said. “There were no mistakes. It meant a lot to get the championship here. The focus was to finish the race. It's the first win this year for us and an amazing dream.”
Peugeot, although it failed to win at Le Mans, won every other ILMC round in 2011. Team ORECA Matmut won at Sebring with the previous generation 908 HDi FAP, while the factory No. 7 car won at Spa-Francorchamps, Imola and Silverstone.
Three of the four works entries – two apiece from Audi and Peugeot – encountered various problems throughout the day. Sebastien Bourdais was aboard the No. 7 Peugeot early on when the car had gearbox issues, and despite the efforts to see it return to the track, retirement was the first option.
Audi's trio of veterans – Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Dindo Capello – never had a proper go of it in the No. 2 R18 TDI. Kristensen had two moments of contact with slower GT traffic which damaged the otherwise bulletproof bodywork, and later clutch issues dropped the car officially out of contention.
That left it to the No. 1 Audi in the hands of Romain Dumas, Timo Bernhard and Marcel Fassler to uphold the silver rings' badge of honor. It all went awry when Dumas and Montagny, then in the No. 8 Peugeot, approached a slower GTC class Porsche on the back straight.
Montagny appeared to move a fraction left, Dumas reacted by going left on his own, and the corresponding accident which followed took the lone remaining Audi out of the race. Naturally, the two had a difference of opinion over who was to blame, but there was no penalty issued from race control to either driver.
“Franck pushed on the Porsche, and I came in full speed,” Dumas said. “I thought it was my chance, so I went between both cars. In the middle of the cars, it turned to the left. I didn't expect him to come past me there. It's a long straight, ‘Why do you move into my car on the straight?'
“I'm so disappointed for the team, for that action with three hours to go makes no sense; it pushed me on the grass and finished like that. It was completely stupid. I didn't expect that type of move on the straight. On a corner, maybe, but moving there is not very nice.
“It's a complete shame, because we have been friends for more than 20 years, I brought him to the track with my rental car. Why did he have to do it like that? Why do he do stupid things like that? I'm so disappointed by the accident for my team and teammates, and I cannot understand.”
Montagny wasn't necessarily apologetic, but expressed a sense of remorse for how the battle ended between the two. No word on whether he needed a new ride home postrace.
“I got in traffic and Romain caught up to me,” Montagny said. “He tried to overtake me but I closed the door. But later I opened my line to get around a GTC Porsche, and I took my line back into the left hand corner. Romain took a jump into the hole that was only open for the Porsche. I was really sorry to have a fight like this and finish. We'd like to battle on the track. But we had a great race and had a good car.”
The Audi out of the way left the podium open for the European prototype efforts which didn't necessarily have the outright pace. ORECA sent the grandfathered 908 HDi FAP out with a runner-up finish and a clean drive for Nicolas Lapierre, Nicolas Minassian and Marc Gene. Aston Martin Racing continued its late season hot streak with its Lola Aston Martin coupe with a surprise podium for Adrian Fernandez, Harold Primat and Stefan Mucke.