Last lap drama for Primat and Tinseau

Harold Primat and Christophe Tinseau suffered a huge slice of misfortune at round 3 of the 2008 Le Mans Series when their Pescarolo 01-Judd ran out of fuel on the final lap of the 1000km race at Spa-Francorcamps.

The Geneva-based Primat and his French co-driver had driven a fine race, running as high as fourth at the halfway mark, and were set for sixth place overall when their fuel tanks ran dry within sight of the chequered flag. Unfortunately, the fact that they were unable to cross the finish line meant they were not classified in the final results and denied them the three points which would have seen the duo climb to third in the drivers’ championship.

Starting from seventh on the 42-car grid, Primat made a strong getaway, holding his place in the early laps. Midway through his opening stint however, he began to suffer with brake balance issues and, having dropped to 11th, pitted to hand over to Tinseau.

Strong double-stints from both Tinseau and Primat saw the #17 car rapidly climb back up the field to fourth overall, fighting with team-mates Jean-Christophe Boullion and Emmanuel Collard in the sister #16 car and the recovering #1 Audi R10 TDi of Allan McNish and Dindo Capello, and were set to finish in a fine sixth position at the flag.

But a misjudgement by the team on fuel strategy, which came about after an early pitstop in the middle of Primat’s double stint to check an oil pressure problem, saw Tinseau grind to a halt on his 137th and final lap.

An understandably deflated Primat said: “It’s a sad end to the weekend as things looked to have gone well. Midway through the race a warning light started showing on the dashboard and the team asked me to pit a bit earlier than planned to check it out. That changed our fuel strategy a little and that has ultimately cost us the points.

“At the beginning of the race the brake balance wasn’t good and the rear wheels kept locking. I had a few moments and lost a few places but we fought back really well after that. The three points for sixth would have put us third in the drivers’ championship, ahead of a works Peugeot and a works Audi, so to miss out in this way is a real shame. But this is a team sport and we share the highs and the lows together.”

Tinseau added: “It’s a tough break. We only stopped 500 metres short of the line, but still won’t be classified under the rules. A splash and dash late in the race would have got us to the finish without losing many places, so it’s very frustrating. In a five race series you can’t afford to miss out on points and sadly we’ve done that today.”

Team Principal Henri Pescarolo said: “We were only one litre short on fuel, but at the end of the day it’s still a mistake. The positive today is that the car and both drivers showed good pace throughout and that bodes very well for the Le Mans 24 Hours next month.”