The Le Mans Series 2009 season really got underway at 11.33 am when the green light indicated the start of the 1000 KM of Catalunya. Fourty-three cars took to the start of the race, with the Strakka Racing Zytek leading the two Aston Martin Racing Lola’s…on the warm-up lap.
As 42 cars set off for the warm-up lap at 11.30 the Drayson Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT2 was the only one left at the end of the pit lane. Out on the track the Ibanez Racing Service Courage continued its unfortunate weekend by spinning into the grass. Jose Ibanez managed to get the car back on track though.
At 11.33 the cars rolled onto the straight and the moment the light went green the Aston Martin Lola’s went for it, overtaking Peter Hardman before they had even crossed the line. Into turn one Mücke lead, with Belicchi and Turner right behind him. Christijan Albers and Olivier Panis lost several positions after having to avoid the cars in front of him at the start, the Dutchman even hitting the back of Boullion’s Pescarolo
The three Aston Martin powered Lola’s pulled away from the rest of the field and after 3 laps completed the first non-Aston was already eight seconds behind. Just after completing his sixth lap Mücke started to lap the first GT2 cars.
For Tom Coronel the race could not have started any worse. The Dutchman damaged his Spyker and returned to the box after only a handfull of laps. There was damage visible on the front right of the car as well as oil leaking from the left rear. The SNORAS Spyker Squadron team pushed the car back into its box.
Fifteen minutes into the race Horst Felbermayr Jr was given a stop & go penalty for not respecting the track limits. And there is a message here that the start procedure is under stewards investigation.
With traffic everywhere the LMP2 cars were setting lap times around 1:40, several seconds slower than before. Boullion was taking advantage of it and slowly but steadily moved closeer to Turner, the gap ionly a few tenths of a second at the end of lap 15. By that time Horst Felbermayr Jr also came in for his drive through.
Bruno Senna lost his eighth place on lap sixteen when both Michael Krumm (#14 Audi) and Olivier Panis (#11 Oreca) passed him on the track. Boullion had meanwhile closed the gap to the Aston and was trailing it all over the circuit.
In the pit lane the Felbermayr car got back in and the team checked some body work damage on the right rear of the Porsche. As it went out again another car, the #38 Pegasus Racing Courage of Julien Schell also came into the box for a quick stop.
Having completed thirty minutes of racing the Ranieri Randaccio Lucchini came into the pit. Out on the track Albers and Panis had passed Jouanny in the Pescarolo. As a result the Audi driver was back on the same position he had left the grid. Team mate Michael Krumm was less fortunate only minutes later when he went off into the gravel at turn 4 after a contact with the Signature car of Pierre Ragues. Michael Vergers was given a stop & go penalty for not respecting the track limits.
At 12.07 the safety car was sent out on the track and almost instantly cars came in for their first stops. Darren Turner overshot his pit and had to be pushed back to his normal position before refuelling could commence. In the pit different strategies became clear immediately as some teams changed drivers, whereas others just refuelled.
Krumm had been pulled out of the gravel and slowly made his way back to the pit lane, smoke coming from the back of the Audi R10 TDI. Almost ten minutes after the safety car came out it got back into the pit and the race was green flagged.
Jean-Christophe Boullion was in the lead as the field was released again, followed by Darren Turner and Andrea Belicchi. Michael Krumm finally managed to make it to the pit where his Audi was rolled back into the box by the Kolles mechanics.
Jonny Kane was the next victim of this race as he British Lola driver parked his car in the pit after completing just 23 laps, giving up a podium position in LMP2. The Quifel-ASM Team Zytek was leading the class just before the one hour mark, with Thomas Biagi in the #30 Racing Box Lola closing in.
With five minutes remaining in the first hour the Q8 Oils Hache Team Lucchini slowed on the track with smoke coming out of the right rear of the car. At turn five it went into the gravel trap, but it continued with smoke billowing from the car.
Albers nearly lost his car when battling for fifth with Bruce Jouanny, but the Dutchman kept his Audi on the track. He did however lose a position to Nicolas Lapierre.
At the end of the first hour it was Boullion leading Turner and Belicchi in LMP1. In LMP2 Pla was in the lead ahead of Biagi an Lahaye. Clairay was first in GT1, one lap ahead of Kox and Berville. Antonio Garcia in the Team Modena Ferrari was leading GT2, ahead of Patrick Pilet and Gianmaria Bruni.