Mathias Beche and Pierre Thiriet win the first round of the European Le Mans Series behind the wheel of their ORECA 03. With the same car, Nicolas Minassian, Stéphane Sarrazin and Nicolas Marroc reach the second step of the podium.
Two time winners in 2011, Thiriet by TDS Racing started its season the best way possible : victory for Mathias Beche and Pierre Thiriet on the Paul Ricard circuit, with the pole position and fastest race lap in addition ! For their first steps in endurance racing, Sébastien Loeb Racing take their first podium finish, with a second place for Nicolas Minassian, Stéphane Sarrazin and Nicolas Marroc. These two teams offer a nice 1-2 finish for the ORECA 03 at the 6 Hours of the Castellet. Race Performance rounds out this good performance with a fifth place finish for Hirschi/Meichtry/Frey, while Pecom Racing ends the day in seventh after being held up due to contact with a GT car.
Perfect performance from Thiriet by TDS Racing !
Runners-up to the championship last year, Thiriet by TDS Racing showed all of their qualities on Sunday : a homogeneous driving squad and a team whose pitstops were perfect. The right combination to take victory after six hours of racing and take the lead in the European Le Mans Series. « With the competition level so high, you had to be perfect to win » explains Pierre Thiriet. « The ORECA 03, the team, the drivers : it’s the whole package that got this result. The team was excellent, and quick to react when we were forced to change the cover. I’ve very happy to start the season like this. » Mathias Beche was emotional after the podium ceremonies. « I’d like to first dedicate this win to my mother, who passed away recently. As for the race, I was a little surprised by the lights at the start. I lost first place, but was able to get it back during the second stint. We showed experience was key by being quick and consistent, while being efficient in the pits. We avoided contact with other competitors and that was one of the keys to the race. It’s a well-deserved victory against some of the biggest names in endurance racing. »
First success for Sébastien Loeb Racing…
While discovering their ORECA 03, Sébastien Loeb Racing avoided problems like an experience crew. But Sébastien Loeb and Dominique Heintz’s team were in reality making their first ever start in the discipline. effectuait pourtant ses premiers pas dans la discipline. «It’s a very good start and I’m very happy for the team. » underlines Nicolas Minassian. « For a debut, the team was impressive. Several improvements were made between yesterday and today : the guys were even better in the race, which isn’t easy to do in such an event. All of this puts us in a good position…even if it puts some pressure on as well : to do better, we’ll have to win ! We have the potential to do it. »
Race Performance also had a convincing race to finish in fifth place, Johnathan Hirshi, Ralph Meichtry and Michel Frey confirming that they will be serious contenders during the year. In the hunt for a time, Pecom Racing was unfortunately slowed after contact with a GT relegated them to seventh place.
Pole winners Mathias Beche and Thiriet by TDS Racing give up the lead in the first corner. The battle is fierce in the peloton and the various ORECA 03 complete the first lap without damage. They stay with the leaders until the first round of pitstops, when Boutsen Ginion Racing, having started from the back of the grid, is forced to retire. Thiriet by TDS Racing take control of the race at the end of the first hour. Pecom Racing (Pierre Kaffer) and Sébastien Loeb Racing (Nicolas Minassian) fight for the fifth place. At the first third of the event, Murphy Prototypes is forced to stop due to a mechanical problem, while Pecom makes a return to the pits because of contact with a Ferrari. The Argentinian team rejoins the race a little after the half-way point, five laps down.
At the front, Thiriet by TDS, with Pierre Thiriet now behind the wheel, is still in the hunt for first place battling against the No. 1 Zytek. The Sébastien Loeb Racing ORECA 03, with Nicolas Marroc onboard, continues to move up the rankings to reach the top three. Consistent, Race Performance progresses into the top five at the four hour mark. Things get going with less than 1 :40 remaining : Thiriet by TDS retakes the lead, while Sébastien Loeb Racing, with a very quick Stéphane Sarrazin reaches second. The running order wouldn’t change despite a bodywork cover change for both teams. Thiriet by TDS Racing gains its third victory in the discipline, while Sébastien Loeb Racing reaches their first podium. Thanks to an error free race, Race Performance makes three ORECA 03 in the top five.