The first heat of the Endurance Racing Legends event held this morning on the big 24 Hours of Le Mans circuit fulfilled all its promise even if the race didn’t get off to a great start. Marc Rostan crashed his Pilbeam on the warm-up lap and race control was obliged to leave the safety car out for a few extra minutes. The real start was given next time round and James Cottingham’s and Florent Moulin’s Dallaras as well as Shaun Lynn in the Bentley Speed 8 opened up a gap over their pursuers.
The battle between these three drivers raged for the whole race. While Cottingham coped well with the pressure his car spun off on the entry to the Porsche corners due to a coolant leak, handing victory on a plate to Lynn in his Bentley who finished 4 seconds in front of Moulin’s Dallara. In the prototype category, the third step on the podium was filled by Mike Newton in his MG-Lola in which he won the LMP2 category in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2005 and 2006. In GT, the scrap between the Ferrari 550 Maranellos and the Aston Martin DBR9s ended in victory for one of the English cars driven by Roald Goethe and Stuart Hall.
Victory in the second heat of Endurance Racing Legends held this Saturday as a curtain-raiser to the 24 Hours of Le Mans went to James Cottingham in his Dallara Playstation 2. In Race 1 he had an off-course excursion in this car with just a few minutes to go to the end of the first race, which he was leading. This time he gave his rivals no quarter. Today, all the action took place behind him as there was a ding-dong scrap for second place between Florent Moulin in another Dallara SP1 Judd and Shaun Lynn in the fabulous Bentley Speed 8. The drivers swapped places on several occasions on the Mulsanne straight swallowed up by these 20-year-old prototypes at speeds of up to 315 km/h.
Moulin gave himself a big scare when he put all four wheels on the grass as he was pushing hard on the exit from the Forest Esses, but he managed to get back on the track without hitting the guardrail. Hats off! Finally, the French driver lost contact with Lynn during his pit stop leaving yesterday’s winner to clinch a great second place and a large haul of points in the championship.
Another spectacular battle raged between two renowned drivers in two legendary cars: Dario Franchitti in an Aston Martin DBR9 and Emmanuel Collard in a Porsche 911 GT1. Finally, the first-named, three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 Miles, emerged victorious in the grand touring category, a great way for him finish off his weekend of discovery of the big Le Mans circuit on which as he admitted himself he had always dreamed of racing!