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 Mücke/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…
More about Le Mans