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2008 Le Mans Series
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Introduction
Without a doubt the 2007 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans was one of the most highly anticipated of recent years. The prospect of two Works teams racing against eachother for overal victory got every enthusiasts heart beating faster. Unfortunately Audi's incredible reliability got the better of the fast, but fragile Peugeots. In the second half of the season, the French team showed better reliability to match their incredible speed. In 2008 the two diesel powered machines will face off not once, but at least seven times. The bulk of those are in the five Le Mans Series races. The two factory teams are just the icing on the cake as the season entry is strong throughout. In LMP1 they are joined by the ever strong Pescarolos, the refurbished Oreca-Courages and the all new Lola Aston Martin. Big news was also the arrival (finally) of the Porsche RS Spyder in the LMP2 class. With the ever increasing number of great prototype entries, there is less and less room for GT-racers. That is particularly obvious in GT1 where there are only five full season entries. In GT2 the traditional Ferrari vs Porsche will grab the headlines while Spyker and Aston Martin should be ready to profit from any mishaps from the top runners.
In all the 2008 Le Mans Series has all the right ingredients for an absolutely stellar season. Due to conflicting schedules, we can not attend every race, but on this page we will keep track of events as the season unfolds.

Paul Ricard official test
Having already tested at Paul Ricard extensively over the winter, Peugeot decided to skip the official test, so we had to wait a little longer before the titans face off. Audi was present and the two R10s were easily the fastest cars on the track. There were also no surprises at the head of the LMP2 field with the RS Spyders present topping the field. The surprises were actually behind the top runners in the two prototype classes. Powered by a brand new V10 engine, the Creation was best of the rest ahead of the Courage-Oreca and the Lola Aston Martin. In P2 there was a strong debut of the all-new Lola Coupe, which clocked top times on its very first outing. The most interesting new GT-car was the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, which was still very much in development and actually failed to impress. The Porsches and Ferraris were more closely matched, showing that the emergency improvements to the 997 GT3 RSR have made a difference.
The Paul Ricard test provided some answers, but also left sufficient questions. Our full report of the test, which also doubles as a full season preview can be found here.

Catalunya 1000 km
The Le Mans Series returned to Spain for the third time for the season opener. After Jarama and Valencia, the Barcelona track now hosted the race. As soon as the cars hit the track, the gloves were off as Audi, Peugeot and also one of the RS Spyders topped the time sheets. Most impressive of all was the performance of the Aston Martin engined Lola, which was fastest of all petrol engined cars and even matched the diesel pace at times. Due to some mishaps inflicted on the top runners, the race was not quite as exciting as it could have been. Nevertheless the Catalunya 1000 km reflected the state of the series as an incredible large number of cars made it to the finish. Particular the number of LMP2 cars that ran trouble free was highly impressive.
Our full report and 160-slideshow can be found here.

Schedule
Paul Ricard Official Test, March 2nd-3rd
Catalunya 1000 km, April 6th
Monza 1000 km, April 27th
Spa 1000km, May 11th
Nurburgring 1000 km, August 17th
Silverstone 1000 km, September 14th

Standings after Catalunya
LMP1
1 Peugeot Sport #7 10
2 Audi Sport Team Joest #2 8
3 Charouz Racing Systems 6
4 Pescarolo Sport #16 5
2 Audi Sport Team Joest #1 4
LMP2
1 Van Merksteijn Motorsport 10
2 Speedy Racing Team Sebah 8
3 Team Essex 6
4 RML 5
5 Saulnier Racing 4
GT1
1 Luc Alphand Adventures #72 10
2 Larbre Competition 8
3 IPB Spartak Racing 6
GT2
1 Virgo Motorsport 10
2 Team Felbermayr Proton #77 8
3 IMSA Performance Matmut #76 6
4 Farnbacher Racing #90 5
5 Snoras Spyker Squadron 4

LMP1
# Team Nat Car Tires Drivers
1
Audi Sport Team Joest
Ger
M
Rinaldo Capello (Ita), Allan McNish (Sco)
2
Audi Sport Team Joest
Ger
M
Mike Rockenfeller (Ger), Alexandre Premat (Fra)
3
Scuderia Lavaggi
Mon
Lavaggi LS1 AER
D
Giovanni Lavaggi (Ita), Wolfgang Kaufmann (Ger)
4
Saulnier Racing
Fra
M
Jacques Nicolet (Fra), Marc Faggionato (Mon), Richard Hein (Mon)
5
Team Oreca Matmut
Fra
M
Stephane Ortelli (Mon), Soheil Ayari (Fra)
6
Team Oreca Matmut
Fra
M
Olivier Panis (Fra), Nicolas Lapierre (Fra)
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)
10
Charouz Racing System
Cze
M
Stephane Mucke (Ger), Jan Charouz (Cze)
14
Creation AIM
GBR
D
Jamie Campbell-Walter (Gbr), Felipe Ortiz (Sui)
15
Creation AIM
GBR
D
Stuart Hall (Gbr), Simon Pagenaud (Fra)
16 Pescarolo Sport Fra M Jean-Christophe Boullion (F), Emmanuel Collard (F)
17 Pescarolo Sport Fra M Harold Primat (Sui), Christophe Tinseau (Fra)
18 Rollcentre Racing GBR D Joao Barbosa (Por), Martin Short (GBR), Vanina Ickx (Bel)
19 Chamberlain Synergy GBR D Bob Berridge (GBR), Gareth Evans (GBR), Amanda Stretton(GBR)
20 Epsilon Euskadi Esp M Angel Burgueno (Esp), Miguel Angel de Castro (Esp)
21 Epsilon Euskadi Esp M N/A
LMP2
# Team Nat Car Tires Drivers
25 RML GBR
MG-Lola EX265
M Mike Newton (GBR), Tommy Erdos (Bra)
26 Bruichladdich Radical GBR D Marc Rostan (Fra), Jens Petersen (Ger), Jan-Dirk Lueders (Ger)
27 Horag Racing Sui M Fredy Lienhard (Sui), Didier Theys (Bel), Jan Lammers (Hol)
30 Racing Box Ita
Lucchini Judd
D Marco Didaio (Ita), Filippo Francioni (Ita)
31 Team Essex Den D John Nielsen (Den), Casper Elgaard (Den)
32 Barazi Epsilon Fra Zytek 07S/2 M Michael Vergers (Hol), Juan Barazi (Den)
33 Speedy Racing Team Sebah Sui M Andrea Belicchi (Ita), Steve Zacchia (Sui), Xavier Pompidou (Fra)
34 Van Merksteijn Motorsport Hol M Peter van Merksteijn (Hol), Jeroen Bleekemolen (Hol), Jos Verstappen (Hol)
35 Saulnier Racing Fra Pescarolo 01 Judd M Pierre Ragues (Fra), Matthieu Lahaye (Fra)
37 WR/Salini Fra
WR Zytek
D Stephane Salini (Fra), Philippe Salini (Fra), Patrick Roussel (Fra)
40 Quiffel - ASM Team Por Lola B05/40 AER D Miguel Amaral (Por), Olivier Pla (Por)
41 Trading Performance Sui Zytek 07S/2 M Karim Ojjeh (Ksa), Claude-Yves Gosselin (Fra), Julien Schroyen (Bel)
44 Kruse Schiller Motorsport Ger
Mazda B05/40 Mazda
D Jean de Pourtales (Fra), Hideki Noda (JPN)
45 Embassy Racing GBR Embassy Racing WF01 Zytek M Warren Hughes (GBR), Mario Haberfeld (Bra)
46 Embassy Racing GBR Embassy Racing WF01 Zytek M Jonny Kane (GBR), Joey Foster (GBR)
GT1
# Team Nat Car Tires Drivers
50 Larbre Competition Fra Saleen S7-R M Frederic Makowiecki (Fra), Patrick Bornhauser (Fra), Christophe Bouchut (Fra)
55 IPB Spartak Racing Rus Lamborghini Murcielago R-GT M Roman Rusinov (Rus), Peter Kox (Hol)
59 Team Modena GBR Aston Martin DBR9 M Antonio Garcia (Esp), Tomas Enge (Cze)
72 Luc Alphand Adventures Fra Chevrolet Corvette C6.R M Luc Alphand (Fra), Guillaume Moreau (Fra), Patrice Goueselard (Fra)
73 Luc Alphand Adventures Fra Chevrolet Corvette C6.R M Sebastien Dumez (Fra), Jean-Luc Blanchemain (Fra), Roland Berville (Fra)
GT2
# Team Nat Car Tires Drivers
75 Imsa Performance Matmut Fra Porsche 997 GT3 RSR Evo M Richard Balandras (Fra), Michel Lecourt (Fra), Jean-Philippe Belloc (Fra)
76 Imsa Performance Matmut Fra Porsche 997 GT3 RSR Evo M Raymond Narac (Fra), Richard Lietz (Aut)
77 Team Felbermayr Proton Ger Porsche 997 GT3 RSR Evo P Marc Lieb (D), Alex Davison (Aus)
85 Snoras Spyker Squadron Hol Spyker C8 Laviolette GT2-R M Peter Dumbreck (Sco), Ralf Kelleners (Ger), Alexei Vasiliev
88 Team Felbermayr Proton Ger Porsche 997 GT3 RSR Evo P Horst Felbermayr Jnr (Aut), Christian Ried (Ger), Horst Felbermayr Snr (Aut)
90 Farnbacher Racing Ger Ferrari F430 GTC M Pierre Ehret (Ger), Pierre Kaffer (Ger), Anthony Beltoise (Fra)
91 Farnbacher Racing Ger Porsche 997 GT3 RSR Evo M Lars Erik Nielsen (Den), Allan Simonsen (Aus), Richard Westbrook (GBR)
93 James Watt Automotive GBR Aston Martin Vantage GT2 D Alan van der Merwe (SAF), Michael Outzen (Den), Stephane Lemert (Bel)
94 Speedy Racing Team Sui Spyker C8 Laviolette GT2-R D Andrea Chiesa (Sui), Benjamin Leuenberger (Sui)
95 James Watt Automotive GBR Porsche 997 GT3 RSR D Joel Camathias (Sui), Tim Sugden (GBR), Paul Daniels (GBR)
96 Virgo Motorsport GB Ferrari F430 GTC D Robert Bell (GB), Gianmaria Bruni (Ita)
98 JMB Racing Mon Ferrari F430 GTC M Peter Kutemann (Hol), Maurice Basso (Ita)
99 JMB Racing Mon Ferrari F430 GTC M Stephane Daoudi (Fra), Ben Aucott (GBR)

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Report and images by Wouter Melissen for Ultimatecarpage.com.