Team ORECA Matmut finally clinched the win they had been searching from with their Peugeot 908 diesel at Portimao 1000km.
The team, which included Peugeot works driver Stephane Sarrazin for the weekend, had taken pole through Nicolas Lapierre and never looked back. Early pressure came from the no.12 Rebellion Lola but the diesel coupe simply pulled away and Olivier Panis was able to gain an entire lap on them during his race opening double stint before handing the car to Sarrazin.
“Today, it's scored a victory and I'd really like to thank all the team members from the mechanics to the engineers. It was important for the lads to win,” said Panis. “Stepping up on to the topmost step of the podium was made all the sweeter as it was with the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP! It's good to win after Le Mans, and I hope there'll be more victories in the future.”
Unlike the team's previous outings with the car the race remained almost entirely trouble free – a brief hold up to replace a radio and telemetry antennae damaged by debris the only time the car ran anything other than faultlessly.
Sarrazin continued Panis' work, adding another lap to the lead before Lapierre took over the car for the final stints of the race, adding yet more to their advantage, the team eventually completing 215 laps holding a five lap advantage over the no.12 car.
“Victory was essential and we've done it,” stated Lapierre. “Beyond this success it's the weekend in general that's been a big success. We've had a perfect event; we were able to improve the car in each session; we didn't have any problems and we were always quick.”
“For me the race went off without a hitch. I already had a good lead after Olivier's and StÃ©phane's stints. The car was running so well that all I had to was to nurse it home.”
“The drivers were excellent,” beamed Hughes de Chaunac, ORECA Group President. “They kept up a strong pace without making any mistakes. The team too was very good with very successful pit stops. The start of the season was not easy and it was important for everybody to win here. I'm very happy to see the lads winning with Peugeot. Le Mans left some painful traces and Portimao is like a ray of sunshine!”