Team ORECA Matmut hailed their second place finish at the 1000km of Silverstone a complete success, Hugues de Chaunac's side accomplishing every mission they set themselves before the final Le Mans Series (LMS) round of the year.
The squad, running a privateer Peugeot 908 HDI FAP in the race, had several targets. Winning the LMS team's title for themselves, helping driver Stephane Sarrazin secure the LMP1 drivers' title and Peugeot in the manufacturers' standings – not only in the LMS but also the inaugural Intercontinental Le Mans Challenge. And second, following home the work Peugeot, meant a “clean sweep” in the words of De Chaunac – a man clearly pleased with a fantastic end to the season.
“The Team ORECA-Matmut had only one car so there was no room for errors,” he explained. “We finished second helping Peugeot to score a double and bag the maximum number of points in the ILMC, as well as winning the Drivers', Teams' and Manufacturers' titles for the Lion. That'll be a very important chapter in ORECA's results.”
“The whole team's been simply fantastic and I'm very proud of them. They never gave up throughout the season, that's one of their strengths. We wanted to be at the top level and that's where we are today.”
The team, with Sarrazin and Nicolas Lapierre sharing driving duties in the absence of Olivier Panis, showed the pace to match the race leader throughout the 170 lap race. Lapierre started the race and moved up to fourth past the no.8 Audi on lap nine, inheriting second when the sister Audi retired six laps later.
The pair's chances of stealing the win from the works car was realistically ended after two incidents in Lapierre's second sting in the car, when contact with a slower LMP1 car forced an unscheduled pitstop to fix the rear bodywork of the diesel coupe. Despite having the gap to the leader as low as 20 seconds, they ended the race 42 seconds behind the winner, though they comfortably held off the remaining Audi which made a final splash 'n' dash stop for fuel in the closing laps.
The result allowed ORECA to clinch the teams' title ahead of the Signature Plus outfit, while the 1-2 finish saw Peugeot leapfrog the Lolas of Rebellion Racing for the manufacturers' title, coming from two points behind entering Silverstone. Peugeot also claimed more than double the points of Audi to take the lead in the ILMC manufacturers' standings 47 points to 21.
“It's been a great weekend for Peugeot and the Team ORECA-Matmut,” said new champion Sarrazin, the drivers' title his second LMS championship. “There's the double, which is the best possible launch for the ILMC, and then there are the Le Mans Series titles. We made some changes during the warm-up and they paid off. The car was handling like a dream in the race. We beat Audi in a fair fight. It's a great end and an even better beginning.”