The outcome of the 1000km of Monza, the second round of the 2008 Le Mans Series, was only decided at the end after the final 20 thrilling laps saw Pedro Lamy catch and pass the N2 Audi R10 to claim overall victory for the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP.
The N7 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP of Minassian/Gen, which started from pole position was, however, delayed by transmission problems which dropped the car to 34th. Once repaired the Franco-Spanish crew fought back to claim fifth place in front of the N1 Audi, and put Peugeot on top of the Manufacturers' standings.With the N2 Audi having to start from the pit-lane due to engine problems, the two Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs - driven respectively by Marc Gen and Stphane Sarrazin - led the field away from the start and gradually pulled clear of their rivals.
That gap soon vanished when the Safety Car was sent out on two occasions, the second because of the spectacular crash by the N1 Audi which was nonetheless able to continue the race after limping back to the pits. As the Safety Car pulled off the track, the Peugeots once again pulled away from the rest of the pack - followed by Ayari's Oreca - until Lap 56 when the N7 Peugeot was forced to pit. Eight laps were lost as its rear-right driveshaft was changed.
The delay marked the beginning of a magnificent fight-back by Minassian and Gen who battled hard with the N1 Audi driven by Capello/McNish until the 145th lap of the 173 lap race, when the Courage Oreca of Ortelli crashed out of the race requiring the Safety Car to be sent out once again. The N7 car driven by Gen was then able to catch and pass Capello to cross the line in fifth place. He also recorded the fastest race lap.
While the Safety Car was still out following Ortelli's crash, Pedro Lamy continued to top the leaderboard in the N8 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP, one lap clear of Rockenfeller in the N2 Audi, but he failed to hear an instruction to pit for fuel and consequently lost not only his leading margin but also first place itself. This sparked a thrilling clash during the last 20 laps as the two cars lapped within thousandths of a second of each other. Lamy eventually caught the German car with just 10 laps remaining and attempted a pass at the first chicane. The bid forced him to cut the corner and earned him a 'stop and go' penalty which he complied with four laps from home following a second overtaking attempt.
This time, the two cars actually touched each other; the Audi was forced to stop to change a wheel, leaving the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP to take the spoils.
The result puts Stphane Sarrazin and Pedro Lamy third in the Drivers' championship behind their Peugeot team-mates, Minassian and Gen, who are in turn two points adrift of Rockenfeller/Prmat. In the Manufacturers' standings, Peugeot now leads by two points ahead of Audi. The season continues with the next race at Spa-Francorchamps where the Peugeot line-up will be joined by Jacques Villeneuve and Alexander Wurz.