Peugueot dominate 1000km of Algarve
Nicolas Lapierre and Olivier Panis dominated the only night-time race of the 2010 Le Mans Series to win the 1000km of Algarve in style.
Driving the Number 4 Oreca Matmut Peugeot, the French duo finished well ahead of the Rebellion Lola of Nicolas Prost and Neel Jani.
Over a six-hour period and 215 laps of the undulating circuit, Lapierre and Panis built a massive five-lap lead over their closest pursuers. A further two laps back behind Jani and Prost, Franck Mailleux and Pierre Ragues took third place in a Lola entered by the Signature team.
Nicolas Lapierre und Olivier Panis thus celebrated their second success in the LMS. The victorious pair already had one win under their belt from the 2009 season when they crossed the finish line first on the Grand Prix circuit at Silverstone - albeit with a somewhat less dramatic margin of 51 seconds.
In the GT2 class, local favourites Quifel ASM missed out on a chance to impress in their home race. Miguel Amaral, who had started the race with Olivier Pal in a Ginetta Zytek, spun off the track early in the evening , and somehow managed to destroy the front of his car as he was rejoining the race.
"Thank you very much," said Andy Wallace, Mike Newton and Tommy Erdos of the RML team who then went on to set the pace amongst the smaller cars. In their Lola HPD CoupÈ, they were almost ten laps ahead of the rest of their class and only just missed out on a podium place, finishing fourth in the overall classification.
The ageing and outdated Saleens in the GT1 class stood absolutely no chance. Carlo van Dam and his team-mates were overwhelmed by the GT2 mob and ended up as also-rans.
It was a much more even contest in the small sports car category. In contrast to the overall classification, there was a constant chopping and changing at the front, and the race finished with eleven cars all within four laps of each other. Ferrari went into the race with the best prospects after the F430 GT had dominated in qualifying.
Ultimately, the Italians just managed to keep their noses ahead. Gianmaria Bruni and Jamie Melo won their class with a one-lap lead over team-mates Jean Alesi, Giancarlo Fisichella and Toni Vilander, who saw off the challenge from the Porsche of Richard Lietz and Marc Lieb only in the final stage of the race.