The Le Castellet 6 Hours, the first round of the 2012 European Le Mans Series, provided a thrilling finale between the three teams in the running for victory.
The winner was the Thiriet by TDS Racing team’s Oreca 03?Nissan driven by Beche?Thiriet that saw the flag with a lap in hand over the newly?created squad, Se?bastien Loeb Racing’s similar car in the hands of Sarrazin?Minassian?Marroc. Into third came the Status Lola B12/80 coupe of Buurman?Sims?Stirling. The other serious victory contender, the reigning champion Greaves Motorsport’s Zytek?Nissan, finished fourth. It lost a part of its bodywork on the circuit and had to pit for repairs, and was then hit with a stop & go penalty.
The JMW Motorsport Ferrari F458 Italia of Walker?Cocker beat the similar car driven by Melo?Frezza entered by JMB Racing that set pole to the flag in LM GTE Pro. The gap between them was only 1.074s after 6 hours racing! The two Ferraris came home in front of the Goossens?Soulet Porsche 911 RSR, winner of the LM GTE Am category, which finished a lap behind the Italians cars.
Finally, the Curtis Racing Technology team won the FLMC category and saw the flag in an excellent eighth place overall.
Mathias Beche (1st – Thiriet by TDS Racing): “I made a good start but then I was surprised to see the light going from red to blank and I lost my lead! I did my best to stay in contact with the Status Grand Prix Lola, which had a higher top speed, so I wasn’t able to pass it on the straight. After that we had a pretty good race and my team?mate Pierre Thiriet and the whole team did a great job. I’d like to dedicate this fantastic weekend (pole, victory and fastest lap) to my mother who died two months ago.”
Nicolas Minassian (2nd – Se?bastien Loeb Racing): “Today, we didn’t have either the quickest or the easiest?to?drive car. Our team was making its endurance debut and a six?hour race is very long. We concentrated on making zero errors out on the track and during the pit stops. Nicolas (Marroc) and Ste?phane (Sarrazin) both did impeccable stints after me, and we scored an encouraging second place in our very first race. It’s a great start for Se?bastien Loeb Racing!”
Yelmer Buurman (3rd – Status GP): “As our car was put together only last week finishing in the top three is an excellent result. I had a few tyre problems in the first stint, but after that the car was easy to drive. I’m very satisfied, all the more so as it’s my first race in a prototype!”
James Walker (1st GTE Pro): “Over the last three laps we knew that the gap to Melo?Frezza was tiny. I’d like to thank the Dunlop tyres that played a major role in our race strategy and in our victory today.”
Marc Goossens (1st GTE Am): “We started off with a good scrap with the GTE Pros. Unfortunately, we had a voltage problem in the battery that deprived us of our power steering for 75% of the race and made driving in traffic very difficult. Maxime (Soulet) and I have often raced together in Procar. It was his first race in the ELMS and it was the best result we could have expected.”
Se?bastien Loeb: “On our maiden outing we couldn’t have dreamed of better! Ste?phane (Sarrazin) and Nicolas (Minassian) have confirmed that they’re the benchmarks in endurance. Nicolas (Marroc) had a great race and surprised a lot of people. As for the team, which was having its first taste of a branch of motor sport that isn’t easy to learn, they never put a foot wrong. Bravo everybody. Obviously, there are still a few areas for improvement, but the team’s shown that it’s up to the challenge!”