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Peugeot Wins in China to Take ILMC Title - Web Exclusive

Peugeot has dominated the ILMC, winning every round, including two, one-two finishes.

Nov 8, 2010

Team Peugeot Total rounded off the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP's remarkable career with a resounding victory in Sunday's 1000km of Zhuhai (southeast China).

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It was a perfect performance from the team, monopolizing the front row of the grid and taking a deserved win.

This fifth win of the season thanks to Stephane Sarrazin and Franck Montagny in the Nº2 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP, secured both the Teams' and Manufacturers' title in the inaugural Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC).

Peugeot has dominated the ILMC, winning every round, including two, one-two finishes (Silverstone and Road Atlanta).

The race win went to Stephane Sarrazin and Franck Montagny in the Nº2 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP, which crossed the line with a cushion of 4.826sec over the Audi of Kristensen and McNish.

The other Peugeot 908, shared by Sebastien Bourdais and Simon Pagenaud, finished fourth after losing time and track position following a collision with another competitor within sight of the checkered flag.

Peugeot's main opponent, Audi, did all it could to apply pressure during the opening laps, and Capello (Audi Nº8) briefly succeeded in splitting the two French cars before the Peugeots began to pull clear after the first round of refuelling pitstops.

The final phase of the 1000km of Zhuhai proved difficult for all the front-runners. Franck Montagny lost ground after going wide into a gravel trap on Lap 162. Shortly afterwards, Bourdais was forced to make an unscheduled pitstop to change some damaged body parts following a collision with a slower car, dropping him down the order and earning him a one-second "stop&go" penalty.

This left everything poised for the outcome to be settled by the speed of the last refueling stop by the No2 Peugeot driven by Stephane Sarrazin, who had retaken the lead when Kristensen (Audi) made his final stop.

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Peugeot Sport got its calculations spot on, calling the Frenchman in for a "splash and dash" on Lap 219, which enabled him to rejoin the race in front of his rival.

From then on it was a race to the flag, and a 19th win for the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP, which has ended its career on top of the podium.

After completing 232 laps in 5hours 36minutes, Team Peugeot Total took the checkered flag with a lead for Sarrazin (Peugeot Nº2) of 4.826sec over the best-placed Audi; a result which clinched both the Manufacturers' and Teams' titles in the inaugural Intercontinental Le Mans Cup for Team Peugeot Total.

From Audi's perspective, Tom Kristensen/Allan McNish and Dindo Capello/Romain Dumas at the wheel of the two Audi R15 TDI cars fought an intense duel with the two Peugeot 908s during the 1000km race.

One hour before the end, Kristensen was leading when the only safety car period caused his advantage to shrink from 30 to 13.5 seconds.

Afterwards, the spectators witnessed a sprint race in which every tenth of a second counted, but Kristensen was surprised when immediately before the last refueling stop of Stephane Sarrazin's Peugeot, he was slowed by Sarrazin's team-mate Bourdais, who was over three laps behind.

This allowed Sarrazin to rejoin after his last refueling stop with a one-second advantage over Kristensen, and to ultimately win the race with a 4.8-second advantage.

Kristensen, who had qualified third on the 23-car grid, handed the Audi over to McNish 95mins in to the 1000km race in third place - 27secs behind the leading Peugeot.

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McNish set a scintillating pace and swept the Audi into the lead for the first time with 3hr 37mins on the clock with 10secs covering the top-three.

The Scotsman's stunning triple driving "stint" lasting 2hrs 31mins in the hot and humid conditions came to an end when McNish pitted to Kristensen with over four and half hours on the clock and a 32sec lead.

Audi claims the "controversy" deprived the Chinese fans of a true final shoot-out. Nonetheless, they witnessed the performance and reliability of the two Audi R15 TDIs, that were equal and at times superior to the Peugeots.

Audi's strategy of changing tires at each pitstop after the second hour of the race proved to be right. The Audi drivers were able to take advantage of the fresher tires again and again, and made up the time lost in the pits after each change.

In the crucial phase of the race Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen managed to distance themselves from their immediate rivals before the deployment of the safety car one hour before the end of the race thwarted their plans and forced

The finale of the Intercontinental Cup was the last race of the Audi R15 TDI in its current configuration. From 2011, new Technical Regulations have called for downsizing of the engines for Le Mans prototypes. So the successor, the R18, will be presented in December.

The Audi R15 TDI competed in nine races in 2009 and 2010. Three of them were victorious. The innovative diesel sports car secured its place in the history books primarily due to its one-two-three victory at the 2010 Le Mans 24 Hours, the fastest Le Mans race of all time.

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Zhuhai was also the first race in the Le Mans Series to see the Audi R8 LMS appear. Marchy Lee, Alex Yoong and Mathew Marsh from KK Performance managed to clinch twelfth place overall and victory in the GTC class.

1000km of Zhuhai - final positions:
1, Peugeot 908 HDi FAP (Sarrazin/Montagny), 232 laps in 5h 35m 39.053s
2, Audi R15 TDI (Kristensen/McNish), +4.826s
3, Audi R15 TDI (Capello/Dumas), +49.302s
4, Peugeot 908 HDi FAP (Pagenaud/Bourdais), +3 laps
5, Pescarolo-Judd (Nicolet/Da Rocha/Lafargue), +26 laps

Fastest race lap: Franck Montagny (Peugeot 908 HDi FAP Nº2): 1m 22.296s (Lap 3)

2010 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup - final positions:
Manufacturers:
1, Peugeot, 140 points
2, Audi, 101 points

Teams
1, Team Peugeot Total, 118 points
2, Audi Sport Team Joest, 101
3, Drayson Racing, 32
4, Team Oreca Matmut, 22

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