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2007 Le Mans Series
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Introduction
Throughout its first three seasons the Le Mans (Endurance) Series have treated its fans to some of the finest endurance racing, race after race. The only problem was that there was the limited number of fans, especially at the tracks. This was blamed on a variety of reasons, but one of the most persistent was the lack of a big name manufacturer in the Series. It could very well be, although that still does not really explain the difference between the 200,000+ people that flock to Le Mans and the 2,000 people that usually line the Le Mans Series events. Whether it was the big name that was lacking will be determined this year as the Series welcomes Peugeot for the complete season and possibly Audi after Le Mans. The Le Mans Series is very popular with the competitors and, for the first time ever, it was oversubscribed in 2007. Below you can find short introduction to the races and the full entry list with links to the particular cars, and on the right you can find the schedule and the championship standings. Almost all of these cars will also race at Le Mans in June, complemented only by the Audis, the Works Corvettes and the Risi Ferrari F430.

Paul Ricard official test
Due to the final step in the transformation of the prototype regulations, a relatively large number of completely new cars will take to the track in 2007. The first chance to see how they related to each other was the official test weekend at the Paul Ricard High Tech Test Track. The biggest question of course was how well the Peugeot would perform. Not to be ignored were the brand new Pescarolo and the Judd engined Lola in LMP1 and the Gulf livered Zytek in the LMP2 class.
Peugeot proved to be the fastest, but due to the relatively low number of laps covered, there were many concerns about the reliability of the diesel engined machine. We were most impressed by the roll-out of two of the new Pescarolos, which were virtually trouble free even though these were the first complete cars to come out of the small Le Mans based facility. Click here for a detailed description of the two days’ proceedings and an action packed 150-shot slideshow.

Monza 1000 km
After being removed from the calendar last season due to complaints about noise levels, the historic Monza track was back and served as the season opener. With its long straights and high speed corners, Monza is one of the closest in configuration to Le Mans. In all three practice sessions the trend of Paul Ricard continued with the Peugeots having a slight edge, but closely trailed by the Pescarolos and the Charouz Systems Lola. Things became a lot clearer in qualifying when the half-painted coupes showed their true colours for the first time, taking the first row with great ease. There were few surprises in the other classes, although the Porsches proved more evenly matched to the Ferraris in GT2 than previously anticipated.
The Peugeots impressed even more in the race and the winning car suffered no reliability problem other than a poorly closing door. The other one lost valuable time in the pits due to a technical problem, but then performed a stellar comeback to eventually finish third. The LMP2 class was a bit of a travesty as it saw three of the big contenders for the class win not start at all or come back to the pit within a lap or two. Oreca’s marathon run at Paul Ricard looked all in vein when an engine failed less than two hours in the race, handing the GT1 class win to Luc Alphand and his men. Much to the tifosis’ delight the GT2 class was an all Ferrari affair with a clean sweep for the sixty your old manufacturer. All this and a lot more is described in detail in our report and 190-shot slideshow, filled with smoking tyres, glowing discs and flying cars.

Valencia 1000 km
The second race of the season saw the long awaited debut of the Audi R8 engined Lola, designed to show that the diesels really didn't have that big of advantage. Immediately on the (petrol) pace, it managed to clinch a third position. Sadly it was the only outing for the Swiss Spirit Lola Audi in the Le Mans Series as a mix of technical and internal team problems saw the project sidelined after Le Mans. At the front of the field the Peugeots impressed by outpacing the competition on a track that was expected to favour the nimbler petrol cars. Like at Monza, one of the 908s did hit trouble and this time was forced to retire.
A full report and a 160-shot slideshow of the Valencia 1000 km can be found here.

Nurburgring 1000 km
Less than two weeks after Le Mans, the Le Mans Series sprung back to action for the Nurburgring round of the season. Amazingly all teams had managed to rebuild their machines and were ready to take on the challenging Eiffel track. Peugeot were the dominant force again, finally taking a well deserved one-two victory. In the other classes the racing was a lot tighter with many of the podium positions still disputed over in the closing stages of the race. We were on hand and captured the weekend in its entirety in this full report and spectacular 150-shot slideshow.

Spa Francorchamps 1000 km
Arguably the most exciting track on the calendar, Spa Francorchamps had been heavily revised since the Series' previous finish; sadly at the expense of some of the track's trademark turns. What remained was the unpredictable weather, which always makes for very interesting races. This year was no exception with a 1000 km tainted by heavy accidents and safety cars. Victory of course went to a Peugeot, followed by the ever strong #16 Pescarolo and the RML MG Lola LMP2 car. In GT1 Oreca continued their good form, while the fastest Felbermayr car managed to clinch the second win of the season ahead of the championship leaders.

Silverstone 1000 km
After an excursion to Donnington last year, Silverstone was back on the calendar for 2007. It was the weekend of the LMP2 Zyteks, with the Barazi Epsilon car taking the type's first class win. The second chassis that had raced at Le Mans was now entered by Team LNT for their talented youngsters. In the opening stages, the blue car was the only one capable of keeping with the Peugeots, until an alternator failure threw them back. A few laps were lost, but a staggering drive saw them fight back to second in class, making it a one-two for the quick, but often fragile Zytek. Peugeot top the boards again and in GT1 and GT2 victory went to Oreca and Virgo. The big news of the meeting was that Oreca had bought Courage, paving the way back to prototype racing for Oreca in 2008. Our exclusive report and 170-shot slideshow can be found here.

Schedule
Paul Ricard Official Test, March 25th-26th
Monza 1000 km, April 15th
Valencia 1000km, May 6th
Nurburgring 1000 km, July 1st
Spa 1000km, August 19th
Silverstone 1000km, September 16th
Mil Milhas, November 11th

Standings after Silverstone
LMP1
1 Peugeot Sport #8 36
2 Pescarolo Sport #16 34
3 Peugeot Sport #7 28
4 Rollcentre Racing 19
5 Charouz Racing Systems 15
LMP2
1 RML 36
2 Quiffel - ASM Team 30
3 Saulnier Racing 23
4 Horag Racing 21
5 Barazi Epsilon 20
GT1
1 Team Oreca 40
2 Luc Alphand Adventures #72 33
3 Aston Martin Racing Larbre #50 30
4 Team Modena 22
5 Racing Box 20
GT2
1 Virgo Motorsport 42
2 Team Felbermayr Proton #77 29
3 GPC Sport #97 27
4 Scuderia Villorba Corse 21
5 Farnbacher Racing 16

LMP1
# Team Nat Car Tires Drivers
3
Scuderia Lavaggi
Mon
D
Giovanni Lavaggi
5
Swiss Spirit
Sui
M
Jean-Denis Deletraz (Sui), Marcel Fassler (Sui)
7 Peugeot Sport Fra Peugeot 908 HDi FAP M
Nicolas Minassian (Fra), Marc Gene (Esp)
8 Peugeot Sport Fra Peugeot 908 HDi FAP M
Stephane Sarrazin (Fra), Pedro Lamy (Por)
9
Creation Autosportif
GB
M
Jamie Campbell-Walter (GB)
10 Arena International Motorsport GB Zytek 07S M
Stefan Johansson (Swe), Tom Chilton (GB)
12 Courage Competition F Courage LC70 AER M
Alexander Frei (CH), Jonathan Cochet (Fra)
13 Courage Competition F Courage LC70 AER M
Jean-Marc Gounon (F), Guillaume Moreau (F)
14 Racing for Holland NL Dome S101.5 Judd M David Hart (NL), Jan Lammers (NL), Jeroen Bleekemolen (NL)
15 Charouz Racing System Cze Lola B07/10 Judd M Jan Charouz (Cze), Tomas Enge (Cze)
16 Pescarolo Sport F Pescarolo 01 Judd M Harold Primat (CH), Christophe Tinseau (F)
17 Pescarolo Sport F Pescarolo 01 Judd M Jean-Christophe Boullion (F), Emmanuel Collard (F)
18 Rollcentre Racing GB Pescarolo 01 Judd M Joao Barbosa (Por), Martin Short (GB), Justin Keen (GB)
19 Chamberlain Synergy GB Lola B06/10 AER D Bob Berridge (GB), Gareth Evans (GB), Peter Owen (GB)
LMP2
# Team Nat Car Tires Drivers
20 Pierre Bruneau F Pilbeam MP93 Judd M Marc Rostan (F), Pierre Bruneau (F)
21 Bruichladdich Radical GB Radical SR9 AER D Tim Greaves (GB), Stuart Moseley (GB)
24 Noel del Bello Racing Fra Courage LC75 AER M Didier Andre (Fra), Vitaly Petrov (Rus)
25 RML GB MG Lola EX264 AER M Mike Newton (GB), Tommy Erdos (BR)
27 Horag Racing Sui Lola B05/40 Judd M Fredy Lienhard (Sui), Didier Theys (Bel), Eric van de Poele (Bel)
29 T2M Motorsport Jap Dome S101.5 Mader M Robin Longechal (F), Yutaka Yamagishi (Jap)
31 Binnie Motorsports USA Lola B05/40 Zytek M Bill Binnie (USA), Allen Timpany (GB), Chris Buncombe (GB)
32 Barazi Epsilon F Zytek 07S/2 M Michael Vergers (NL), Juan Barazi (F), Karim Ojjeh (KSA)
35 Saulnier Racing Esp Courage LC75 Aer M Jacques Nicolet (Fra), Alain Filhol (Fra), Bruce Jouanny (Fra)
40 Quiffel - ASM Team GB Lola B05/40 AER D Miguel Amaral (P)
44 Kruse Motorsport Ger Pescarolo 01 Judd K Tony Burgess (CDN), Jean de Pourtales (Fra), Norbert Siedler (Aut)
45 Embassy Racing GB Radical SR9 Judd D Warren Hughes (GB), Neil Cunningham (NZ)
GT1
# Team Nat Car Tires Drivers
50 Aston Martin Larbre Racing F Aston Martin DBR9 M Christophe Bouchut (Fra), Gabriele Gardel (CH), Fabrizio Gollin (Ita)
51 Aston Martin Larbre Racing F Aston Martin DBR9 M Gregor Fisken (Sco), Steve Zacchia (CH), Gregory Franchi (Bel)
55 Team Oreca F Saleen S7-R M Stephane Ortelli (Mon), Soheil Ayari (Fra)
59 Team Modena GB Aston Martin DBR9 M Antonio Garcia (Esp)
61 Racing Box Ita Saleen S7-R M Pier Giuseppe Perazzini (Ita), Marco Cioci (Ita), Salvatore Tavano (Ita)
72 Luc Alphand Adventures Fra Chevrolet Corvette C6.R M Luc Alphand (Fra), Jerome Policand (Fra), Patrice Goueselard (Fra)
73 Luc Alphand Adventures Fra Chevrolet Corvette C5-R M Jean-Luc Blanchemain (Fra), Sebastien Dumez (Fra)
GT2
# Team Nat Car Tires Drivers
76 Imsa Performance Matmut Fra Porsche 997 GT3 RSR M Raymond Narac (Fra), Richard Lietz (Aut)
77 Team Felbermayr Proton D Porsche 997 GT3 RSR M Marc Lieb (D), Xavier Pompidou (Fra)
78 Scuderia Villorba Corsa Ita Ferrari F430 GTC P Alex Caffi (Ita), Denny Zardo (Ita)
81 Team LNT GB Panoz Esperante GT-LM P Lawrence Tomlinson (GB), Richard Dearn (GB)
82 Team LNT GB Panoz Esperante GT-LM P Tom Kimber-Smith (GB), Danny Watts (GB)
83 GPC Sport Ita Ferrari F430 GTC P Gabrio Rosa (Ita), Luca Drudi (Ita), Johnny Mowlem (Gbr)
84 Chad Peninsula Panoz GB Panoz Esperante GT-LM P John Hartshorne (GB), Michael McInerney (GB), Sean McInerney (GB)
85 Spyker Squadron NL Spyker C8 Spyder GT2 R D Jarek Janis (Cze)
88 Team Felbermayr Proton D Porsche 997 GT3 RSR M Horst Felbermayr Jnr (Aut), Christian Ried (D)
89 Markland Racing Den Chevrolet Corvette Z06 GT2 Y Henrik Moller Sorensen (Den)
90 Farnbacher Racing D Porsche 997 GT3 RSR P Pierre Ehret (D), Lars Erik Nielsen (Den), Dirk Werner (D)
92 Thierry Perrier Fra Porsche 997 GT3 RSR D Philippe Hesnault (Fra), Nigel Smith (GB), Anthony Beltoise (Fra)
93 Autorlando Sport I Porsche 997 GT3 RSR P Roberto Plati (Ita), Paolo Maurizio Basso (CH), Gianpaolo Tenchini (Ita)
94 Speedy Racing Team CH Spyker C8 Spyder GT2 R D Iradj Alexander-David (CH), Andrea Chiesa (CH)
96 Virgo Motorsport GB Ferrari F430 GTC D Robert Bell (GB), Allan Simonsen (Den)
98 Ice Pol Racing Team B Ferrari F430 GTC P Yves Lambert (B), Christian Lefort (B)
99 JMB Racing Mon Ferrari F430 GTC D Paolo Maurizio Basso (Sui), Bo McCormick (Den)

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Report and images by Wouter Melissen for Ultimatecarpage.com.