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LMS: Second straight triple victory for the Porsche RS Spyder

Le Mans Series, round 3 in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium

It was a great day for Porsche, the teams, action and weather! GT2 action was incredible with Porsche missing top spot by 0.18 seconds. Read on after the jump for GT2 notes.

Gallery up in a few.

lms_porsche_spa_051208.jpgPodium (l.-r.): Jan Lammers, Didier Theys, Peter van Merksteijn, John Nielsen, Jos Verstappen, Casper Elgaard

Porsche’s customer teams drive from success to success in the European Le Mans Series (LMS). In a repeat of the recent Monza race, the third round ended with another triple victory for the Porsche RS Spyder in the fiercely-contested LMP2 class. Jos Verstappen and Peter van Merksteijn (Netherlands, Van Merksteijn Motorsport), winners of the LMS season-opener, won the exciting 1,000 kilometre race on the 7.004 kilometre circuit of Spa-Francorchamps. Second went to Jan Lammers (Netherlands) and Didier Theys (Belgium) in the RS Spyder fielded by the Swiss Horag team. Danes John Nielsen and Casper Elgaard celebrated third with their Essex team (Denmark). The five hour race, punctuated with countless overtaking manoeuvres and changes in position as well as three safety car phases, proved highly eventful. A total of 35,000 spectators came to the forested race track in the Ardennes.

The ex-Formula 1 driver Jos Verstappen took up the race from pole position for the third time out of three races, only to lose his lead after a good thirty minutes to the Lola-AER run by Speedy Racing Sebah. Thanks to a better pit stop strategy, Verstappen claimed the front position back and handed the RS Spyder over to team owner Peter van Merksteijn in the lead. Van Merksteijn was forced to take an unscheduled pit stop to repair a defect headlight which relegated him back to third. The team then proceeded to reclaim the lead position. “It was an unbelievably tough race but was always fair, above all the fight with the Lola,” said Verstappen in front of cheering spectators. “After we failed to find a good balance yesterday the RS Spyder was perfectly balanced in the race today. It’s huge fun competing in the series – and it was really apparent today just how much the fans loved it.”

Horag driver Jan Lammers took up the race from fourth on grid in the LMP2 class and with consistently fast lap times moved into second in the class. Through the technical problem of the Van Merksteijn Porsche the Swiss team inherited the lead. Lammers and Belgian Didier Theys defended their position until the end of the second third of the race, before Lammer’s had to let his compatriot Verstappen pass. “After the drama in Monza everything went without problems today. The car ran optimally, our pit stops were perfect,” said Theys. “We made the most out of the possibilities we had, but Jos was simply faster.” Fredy Lienhard, Horag’s third pilot, could not contest the race due to a back problem.

Essex drivers John Nielsen und Casper Elgaard delivered a sensational chase, after Elgaard made a mistake with major consequences in the formation lap. He drove into a braking competitor in front of him and had to return to the pits to change the front section. In the meantime, the race began behind the safety car. The team lost more time at the red light at the pit exit, having to let the entire field pass as well as through a three-minute time penalty received for the accident. “I can only apologise for this stupid mistake,” said Elgaard. John Nielsen summed up: “We are happy with our result. With the points for third we are still well in the race for the title.”

GT2 Battle:
In the near-standard GT2 class as well, an exciting fight for first took place between Ferrari and Porsche over the entire race distance. Just 0.18 seconds separated Porsche works driver Marc Lieb in his Porsche 911 GT3 RSR from the winning Ferrari. “We have mixed feelings,” said Lieb. “We’re happy because firstly we could have won here. For the first time this season we were faster than the Ferrari and this means we are on the right track with the development of our 911. Taking home eight points is good. Unfortunately, our team made a mistake today in the pits and that cost us victory. But such things happen.”

The pilots to achieve third in the GT2 class, who competed for the Felbermayr-Proton team, were ecstatic. Long-time hobby race drivers Horst Felbermayr junior and senior (Austria) with Christian Ried (Germany) celebrated their podium result like a victory. Sixth in the GT2 class went to Porsche works driver Richard Lietz (Austria) and his team mate Raymond Narac (France).

Statistics: Third of five races in the 2008 Le Mans Series in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium

LMP2 class result
1. Verstappen/Van Merksteijn (NL/NL), Porsche RS Spyder, 138 laps; 2. Theys/Lienhard/Lammers (B/CH/NL), Porsche RS Spyder, 138; 3. Elgaard/Nielsen (DK/DK), Porsche RS Spyder, 135; 4. Lahaye/Ragues (F/F), Pescarolo – Judd, 134; 5. Gosselin/Schroyen/Ojjeh (F/B/KSA), Zytek 07S – Zytek, 133; 6. Newton/Erdos (GB/BR), MG Lola EX 265 – MG, 111; 6. Belicchi/Zacchia/Pompidou (I/CH/F), Lola B08/80 Coupé – Judd, 128; 7. Lueders/Petersen/Rostan (D/D/F), Radical SR9 – AER, 106.

LMP2 points
1. Verstappen, Porsche, 28
Van Merksteijn, Porsche, 28
3. Elgaard, Porsche, 22
Nielsen, Porsche, 22
5. Theys, Porsche, 17
Lammers, Porsche, 17
7. Lahaye, Pescarolo, 13
Ragues, Pescarolo, 13
Newton, Lola 13
Erdos, Lola 13
11. Lienhard, Porsche, 9
12. Belicchi Lola, 8
Zacchia, Lola, 8
Pompidou, Lola, 8

GT2 result
1. Bruni/Bell (I/GB), Ferrari F430 GT, 126 laps; 2. Davison/Lieb (AUS/D), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 126; 3. Ried/JrFelbermayr/SrFelbermayr (D/A/A), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 123; 4. Chiesa/Leuenberger/Iradj (CH/CH/CH), Spyker C8 Laviolette GT2R, 123; 5. Aucott/Ferte (GB/F), Ferrari F430 GT, 123; 6. Narac/Lietz (F/A), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 122; 7. Basso/Kutemann/Daoudi (CH/NL/MCO), Ferrari F430 GT, 122; 8. Palttalla/Daniels/Sugden (FIN/GB/GB), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 121; 9. Vasiliev/Dumbreck/Kelleners (RUS/SCO/D), Spyker C8 Laviolette GT2R, 118.

GT2 Driver points’ standings
1. Bruni, Ferrari, 20
Bell, Ferrari, 20
3. Davison, Porsche, 19
Lieb, Porsche, 19
5. Aucott, Ferrari, 13
Ehret, Ferrari, 13
Kaffer, Ferrari, 13
8. Chiesa, Spyker, 10
Leuenberger, Spyker, 10
Simonsen, Porsche, 10
Nielsen, Porsche, 10
Westbrook, Porsche, 10

The fourth round of the Le Mans Series takes off on 17th August on the Nürburgring (Germany). Before then however, the Van Merksteijn Motorsport and Essex teams will contest the Le Mans 24 hour race (14th/15th June), which does not count towards the LMS.

– Porsche

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