Anthony Davidson and Nicolas Minassian breezed to victory in the 1000km Le Mans Series race at Silverstone after Peugeot's factory 908 HDi FAP LMP1 coupe proved ultimately dominant.
It might have been a different story if the pole-sitting Audi R15 TDI Plus of Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen had not retired within the first half-an-hour of the race. But instead the No. 7 car recorded Audi's first technical retirement since the introduction of the original R10 turbo-diesel on its debut at Sebring in 2006.
Having led initially until Davidson brilliantly forced his way by at Abbey to take the lead on lap nine, McNish stopped on lap 17. And with that, stole some of the intensity of what promised to be a classic encounter between sports car racing's two current powerhouses.
After the demise of the No. 7 car, Davidson and Minassian performed impeccably in a machine that ran flawlessly, producing a victory that was never much in doubt. Davidson in particular, who was called on for two double-stints, ensured that the ORECA Peugeot which trailed in second was never close enough to provide a threat to the factory car – which made history by winning the inaugural round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup.
For ORECA there was still some glory to be enjoyed as Stephane Sarrazin, who shared the car with Nicolas Lapierre, was crowned Le Mans Series drivers' champion for the second time. The teams' championship also went ORECA's way.
Behind the two French cars, Timo Bernhard and Rinaldo Capello came home third in the sister Audi, but in truth, the car never looked capable of fighting with the top two and third was where it deserved to finish.
Stefan Mucke brought home the No. 009 factory Aston Martin to win the "gasoline division" of the race. Mucke, along with his teammates Sam Hancock and Juan Barazi, moved stealthily up the field as others hit problems and delivered a strong fourth, three laps behind the winning car. Neel Jani and Nicolas Prost were fifth for Rebellion while the Signature Aston Martin was sixth. Both had survived separate scrapes, while those around them suffered heavier penalties for their problems.
The LMP2 category provided a much more enthralling race as the Strakka Acura fought back from mid-race misfortune to score a deserved victory.
Having established a strong early lead with Jonny Kane in formidable from through the traffic, teammate Nick Leventis was unlucky to be caught by the GT2 Spyker during his stint which dropped the car to fourth in class as it pitted for repairs. Leventis recovered the car back on to the lead lap before handing over to Danny Watts who forged back into the lead ahead of Olivier Pla in the Oak Racing Pescarolo. The Acura's win was not enough to prevent RML taking the LMP2 title with Tommy Erdos, Mike Newton and Ben Collins finishing fourth.
JMW were denied a famous win for Aston Martin in GT2 following a late drive-through penalty. A late splash-and-dash for fuel also made it impossible for Rob Bell and Darren Turner to make it a win for the Vantage, which had led the category for the majority of the race.
It eventually dropped to third behind winners AF Corse's Jaime Melo and Gianmaria Bruni, in their Ferrari. Richard Westbrook and Marc Holzer were second in the Prospeed Porsche. There was joy, too, for Felbermayr as Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz took the GT2 drivers' LMS title with fifth place in the race.
Warren Hughes and Jody Firth won the Formula Le Mans class for DAMS, beating the Hope Polevision car of Steve Zacchia and Olivier Lombard.
Gabriele Gardel, Patrice Gouselard and Fernando Rees finished the GT1 class as the only runner in the Larbre Saleen.