The Le Mans Series official opening test of 2010 was at Paul Ricard HTTT. The conditions weren’t amazing, leading to a lack of obvious trends. Fastest of the weekend were Oreca, with their 01 prototype handled by Briton Andy Meyrick and Frenchmen Soheil Ayari and Didier Andre... [read more]

The petrol car outwitted its new diesel Peugeot team-mate, in the hands of Le Mans driving team Oliver Panis, Nicolas Lappiere and Loic Duval. The ’08 spec car was solid if not spectacular, sitting around the top six all weekend. Expect consistent improvement during the first weekend of the ‘actual’ season- the diesel power will feature.

Second and third were Rebellion Racing, whose new gold Lolas (running Judd rather than Aston Martin power for 2010) outpaced their old engine mates. The works Aston Lola was at war all weekend with Signature Plus’s similar example, eventually ending in sixth, with Signature fourth. The works car lacked outright pace despite an experienced crew- Adrian Fernandez, Harold Primat and Stefan Mücke all traveled with the squad, ranged against Pierre Ragues and Frank Mailleaux. Interestingly, the Signature Squad’s Dunlop tyres seemed to have an advantage over the works squad’s Michelins.

In ‘I used to be a Formula One World Champion’ Town, Alain Prost watched son Nicolas on board Rebellion, Mario Andretti watched son Marco on board…Rebellion and Nigel Mansell trundled around with his sons on board a Zytek. A learning curve of some proportion awaits Beechdean Mansell in 2010.

Zytek topped LMP2, though, with Olivier Pla ending top for Quifel. Second were Strakka, whose new Acura (sorry, HPD) seems to be bedding in well (and quickly) in the hands of Danny Watts. They outpaced newly HPD powered RML, who nevertheless will be confident that the new engine is considerably more reliable than the turbocharged AER hand grenade of previous years. Those three were the top three in LMP2, ahead of two Racing Box Lola Judds and two Oak Pescarolos.

FLMC is something that’s hard to judge right now- a host of inexperienced drivers were getting their hands in, so we wait until the first round to make any judgement.

In GT1, it was close fought all weekend. Aston Martin’s Young Driver team, with Enge and Nygaard, clashed with three Fords- two for Marc VDS (Kuppens, Paltalla, Leinders, Martin and de Doncker) and one for Matech (Mutsch, Gachnang, Alleman, Frey). Matech finished top, but the glory was pretty split over the weekend. Larbre’s stalwart Saleen appears to need a little tweaking, but expect it to be on the pace come round one.

In GT2, it was a crazy weekend. Richard Westbrook took fastest time in the end, but he wasn’t far ahead of AF Corse’s Gianmaria Bruni. The Briton has switched series with Prospeed after the cancellation of FIA GT2, which left JMW briefly in a hole- but the Aston team have hired Darren Turner in his place. The British, Dunlop sponsored squad spent a lot of time near the top of the time sheets, and are now looking very good for the season. AF Corse’s celebrity car (Alesi, Fisichella, Vilander) was reasonably quick, but it looks like Bruni will be breaking a few F1 focused hearts this season. Also switching with AF Corse and Prospeed are CRS, who on this evidence could shine in 2010.

It’s all set up quite nicely… look out for a full preview in the week.

Photo: David Lord
Editorial: Jake Yorath

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