Wurz, Brabham and Gene win the Le Mans 24 Hours for Peugeot

Alexander Wurz, David Brabham and Marc Gene won at Le Mans

Alexander Wurz, David Brabham and Marc Gene won at Le Mans

Peugeot’s squad of three former F1 drivers claimed overall victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours. Alexander Wurz, David Brabham and Marc Gene led home a Peugeot one-two.

The French team resisted the temptation to swap the running order of its leading cars and promote the second-placed all-French (and all-F1) car of Sebastien Bourdais, Franck Montagny and Stepahne Sarrazin into the lead.

It marked the first time in ten years the race has been won by a three drivers who have competed in F1.

Peugeot returns to victory

Alexander Wurz scored his second win the French classic, adding to his 1996 triumph. Wurz made the most F1 starts of the trio, with Marc Gene starting 36 and David Brabham 24.

Brabham became the second member of his family to win the race outright – brother Geoff was part of the team that gave Peugeot its last win in the race, in 1993. David Brabham won the GT1 category in the previous two years, driving for Aston Martin. Both are, of course, the sons of three-times F1 champion Jack Brabham.

Peugeot’s first win at Le Mans in 16 years bookends a period in which it also made an unsuccessful foray into Formula 1. It joined McLaren as an engine supplier in 1994 but was dropped by the team at the end of the year. It supplied engines for Jordan from 1995-1997, then Alain Prost’s team for three years. After leaving F1 it enjoyed success in rallying, before starting a new Le Mans programme with its diesel-engined car in 2007.

Bourdais is the first active F1 driver to compete in the Le Mans 24 Hours since Franck Montagny in 2006 – who also finished second on that occasion.

Class wins for Magnussen and Salo

Audi’s R15 provided the closest challenger to Peugeot, in the form of the number one car driven by ex-Toyota racer Allan McNish alongside Tom Kristensen and Rinaldo Capello, which finished third.

The highest-placed of the new Aston Martins was the Tomas Enge/Stefan M???cke/Jan Charouz car which took fourth. The team is run by Prodrive, who submitted an entry for the 2010 F1 championship. Another of the cars piloted by ex-Super Aguri driver and BBC F1 commentator Anthony Davidson, along with Jos Verstappen and Darren Turner, finished 13th.

The LMGT1 category was won by the Corvette C6.R of another former F1 driver, Jan Magnussen, alongside Jonny O’Connell and Antonio Garcia. LMGT2 was won by the Risi Competizione Ferrari of Mika Salo – formerly a Ferrari F1 driver – Pierre Kaffer and Jaime Melo.

LMP2 was the only category won by three drivers without F1 credentials – the Porsche RS Spyder of Casper Elgaard, Kristian Poulsen and Emmanuel Collard.

But Marco Apicella and Narain Karthikeyan’s races ended before they began. Karthikeyan ruled himself out of the race by dislocating his shoulder while jumping over the pit wall in the moments before the start was given. Apicella’s Lamborghini managed just a single lap…

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38 comments on Wurz, Brabham and Gene win the Le Mans 24 Hours for Peugeot

  1. al_amana said on 14th June 2009, 14:33

    I was going to make a joke about Wurz and a German sausage but that would have been one of the “wurz” jokes I’d ever done………..Sorry guys really I am! ;-)

    • The sri lankan said on 14th June 2009, 14:37

      what a win for Peugeot! hopefully toyota will Join to clean up some unfinished business with peugeot

  2. Tom Watson said on 14th June 2009, 14:42

    My first le mans race and I loved it, now to catch up on some much needed sleep :)

  3. Prisoner Monkeys said on 14th June 2009, 14:49

    Good to see someone other than one particular team can win.

  4. persempre said on 14th June 2009, 15:11

    Well, Ferrari must be happy.
    Marc Gene (test driver) wins in one of Jean Todt’s old team (Peugeot) cars.
    9 Ferraris in the top 10 in GT2. :)

  5. ajokay said on 14th June 2009, 16:16

    Well done to SeaBass for reaching the 2nd step of the podium. Let’s hope for an unlikely repeat come next weekend.

    Those LMP cars are beautiful, moreso than F1 cars I think.

  6. TommyB said on 14th June 2009, 17:07

    Did anyone hear the guys on Radio Le Mans saying F1 drivers didn’t make good endurance drivers? They had a big debate about it…

    Top 9 – 8 of them F1 drivers?

    • persempre said on 14th June 2009, 18:44

      They may have meant because F1 drivers tend to ‘go for it’ as opposed to thinking in the long term which endurance needs but also other series tend to look on F1 drivers as the prima donnas of the motorsport world.
      I don`t think they’d be quite so dismissive if they tried an F1 drivers’ fitness regime for a few weeks ;)

      • TommyB said on 14th June 2009, 18:48

        They were saying they weren’t cut out for it. Also hardly any F1 drivers “go for it” any more – They’d much rather save their engine or car for the next race then battle for a win.

        • persempre said on 14th June 2009, 19:59

          lol – I know that, you know that but the Radio Le Mans guys don`t necessarily know that, TommyB ;)
          According to one of the commentators on the Eurosport coverage all the F1 teams had signed unconditionally. Obviously not quite got his eye on the F1 ball, eh: ;)
          Who was doing the Radio commentary?

          • TommyB said on 14th June 2009, 20:05

            Yeah good point. Anyone else find other motorsports like to have a jealous dig at F1 in there coverage? They do it in A1GP most.

          • Richard said on 14th June 2009, 21:35

            And steve rider did today in BTCC

          • ajokay said on 14th June 2009, 23:06

            He certainly did, made me giggle.

          • PJA said on 15th June 2009, 10:17

            F1 is the top dog when it comes to motorsport, at least here in the UK anyway, so it is only to be expected that F1 is the series other motorsports compare themselves to, and so like to have a dig at.

            On football forums you often get people saying that the English Premier league has been ruined by money and is not entertaining, so they claim that non-league football is much better.

  7. HounslowBusGarage said on 14th June 2009, 17:24

    The AUDI machine didn’t look quite so comfortable ths year, did it? I think it might have been as a direct consequence of not racing the new R15 between Sebring and Le Mans. There was obviously a lot of learning going on this weekend that they were not expecting.
    Congrats to the Pugs.

  8. -A- said on 14th June 2009, 17:35

    First of all, I absolutely enjoyed the race. More than any Grand Prix of the year so far, as usual.

    Regarding the Radio Le Mans talk, I thought that was an interesting point to bring up for discussion, although if someone’s a great racing driver, there’s no reason to assume he couldn’t be able to do both. Of course, it’d be moot to claim no Grand Prix driver could make the switch, as many have proven otherwise. Actually, one of the most successful pilots of all time at Le Mans, six-time winner Jacky Ickx, had a notable time in GP cars, if I remember correctly. On the other hand, Mario Andretti, for example, has competed at Le Mans many times, without ever winning the race.

    It’s interesting for me, however, no think about which drivers made the switch. Peugeot this year, for example, seemed to have a lot of (former) test drivers, in Alex Wurz, Marc Gene, Christian Klien and even Franck Montagny. So, drivers who are used to a technological approach, who are focussed on getting a job done without putting on much of a show. That’s just the kind of calm, consistent kind of driver you need in a sportscar.

    Curiously, sometimes, the most successful Grand Prix drivers entering the sport aren’t necessarily the most successful drivers in endurance racing. On the contrary, actually, many succesful sports car drivers are guys who have a few grand prix drives to their name, but might never have been on the podium, won a race or a championship. Hans-Joachim Stuck, for example, or Emanuele Pirro and Allan McNish. Drivers who realized at a certain time they probably wouldn’t have the big, successful GP career anymore, and decided to build on something else.

    So, conclusively, it’s best for a GP driver making the switch to both have more of a background than just racing, and second, ideally, the motivation and wilingness to dedicate himself to that sport, instead of just wanting to come to Le Mans and win that precious race.

  9. Andrew said on 14th June 2009, 19:19

    I would have watched it if the coverage wasn’t all pit stop footage. At least half of what I saw was in the pits! I wish the Speed channel would show more auto racing.

  10. F1Yankee said on 14th June 2009, 19:27

    good race this year! and, congrats to peugeot.

    the numbers don’t indicate what a torrid pace the cars were setting. the race has strategy always involved lots of wasted time, but that has come to an end. the marathon was run as if it were a 100m sprint.

    strange how you can’t seem to get away from rules tinkering, interpretation, and protests. at least the severity was much less. tire blankets are banned, but not tire warming tents? gimme a break. instead of tricky aero on the back of the car, audi has questionable aero on the front.

    oddly enough, if a 2-hour race featured as little on-track action as this did, i would have been bored to tears. when put into the context of an enduro, i find it perfectly acceptable (with the help of a dvr to fast-forward through the boring bits.)

    radio le mans, speed, and i’m sure many others were droning on and on about comparing f1 skills and le mans skills. yes, it’s different, we get it! they stayed away from discussing other aspects of f1, other than the teams would be welcome with open arms.

    should the prototype classes be combined, the teams would be something like this:
    peugot
    audi
    porsche
    prodrive / aston martin / lola
    mazda / somebody
    somebody / dallara
    add the f1 manufacturers to the list, and you’ll have one helluva race!

  11. Wesley said on 14th June 2009, 19:52

    Congrats to peugeot!

    And a big congrats to O’Connell who lives in my home state of Georgia here in the U.S…..I root for the Corvette team at Petite LeMans at Road Atlanta every year….I even had my picture taken with the car a couple of years ago.

  12. Ninad said on 14th June 2009, 20:38

    would like to mention about Boudais who drove almost 4-5s quicker than leading Pegeot after he had 8min repain on his car due to axle problems. He was great but dont know why he cant hack f1………….

    Also Wurz kept experienced Sarrazan at bay this morning…. Good result for Wurz……………

    • pSynrg said on 14th June 2009, 21:22

      ‘cos F1 is a lot tougher than a lot of people like to think?
      It would be great to hear Bourdais opinion on comparative difficulty. He’s been so successful at everything else – something doesn’t quite add up does it…

  13. Maurice Henry said on 14th June 2009, 22:32

    Loved the race. Gr8 result for Peugeot after the heartbreak of last year. Happy for Gene, Wurz and Brabs. Did any of you hear NIgel Mansell interviewed this morning? He mentioned racing a LMP1 car later this year and maybe doing Le Mans at some point in the future.

  14. Macca said on 15th June 2009, 1:10

    Aussies winning again.

    Ah life is great. :)

  15. The Speed announcers made a great deal about Bourdais’ pace, rightfully so. With only one race as their focus and three team cars this year I was somewhat disappointed by the Audi overall performances. Especially the crashes.

    As a former Peugeot owner I was pleased for their win, But I guarantee their air conditioners failed!

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