Last but not least we move on to the oldest and youngest drivers at the 2017 IAME International Final. The Masters class crowned a champion on his birthday with penalties in the Mini class handing victory to American driver Brent Crews.
Peclers’ Birthday Win
Jeremy Peclers (BEL) started his weekend as it would finish with pole position on Thursday ahead of returning champion Gerard Cavalloni (FRA). Patrick Styf (FIN) was an impressive 3rd place with International Open Champion Graham Hill (GBR) in 4th place. Rounding out the top five positions was another French hopeful in Wilfried Lecarpentier.
After qualifying the 72 drivers were split into four groups to compete in three heats each. Cavalloni had an almost perfect run with two wins and a 2nd which saw him just about take pole position for the Pre-Final from Kip Foster (AUS) who had a 4th place and two wins. Nicolas Duchateau (FRA) improved on his 7th in qualifying to be ranked 3rd after the heats. There were disappointing results for both Styf and Peclers who had finished 31st and 23rd in a heat respectively dropping them to 23rd and 14th in the standings.
The 34th and final driver to join the A Final would be Hernan Leiva who went from 3rd to 1st on the last lap last corner in what was one of the most entertaining races of the weekend.
The start of the Pre-Final was hugely entertaining and it resulted in a break away group of six drivers which involved Lecarpentier, Cavalloni, Foster, Duchateau, Hill and Gildas Quinquet. As they continued to trade places behind Peclers and Gary Turkington (IRL) were working together in an attempt to close them down. For Peclers in particular after his heat results he was determined to be right at the sharp end for the final.
With four laps remaining battling for 4th place had allowed Lecarpentier, Cavalloni and Foster to escape in that order with Quinquet half a second back in 4th and Hill in 5th now having to contend with Peclers and Turkington as well as Duchateau. Over the next two laps Foster made his way through to the lead with two perfectly executed moves, but he left the door open at turn two on the penultimate lap and Lecarpentier went through to take the lead and eventual victory. Cavalloni was 2nd from Foster in 3rd, Quinquet was 4th, with Hill 5th and Peclers 6th.
As the final got underway a brief lead for Foster eventually turned into a comfortable one for Lecarpentier with Hill going through to 2nd place. The Brit was in chase of the French man with Foster, Turkington and Peclers all queuing up behind. That queue eventually made it’s way through with Hill quickly down to 6th which broke up the lead group slightly. Attention then turned to Peclers who seemed to find another gear passing Foster as if he was standing still then eventually taking the lead on lap nine.
From then on Peclers was able to get himself a lead of just under one second and it looked as if he would just clear off into the distance but that was far from the truth. Lecarpentier and Foster both drove thinking about the whole race by not passing each other and in doing so they were able to keep Peclers very honest. Come the last few laps they began to close in again, perhaps in was just Peclers playing safe as he still came across the line with a half a second lead to take victory on his birthday at the IAME International Final! Lecarpentier and Foster were 2nd and 3rd with Turkington 4th and Styf recovering well to finish 5th.
1st Jeremy Peclers (BEL)
2nd Wilfried Lecarpentier (FRA)
3rd Kip Foster (AUS)
4th Gary Turkington (IRL)
5th Patrick Styf (FIN)
6th Graham Hill (GBR)
Brent Crews wins Mini Final post-race
The X30 Mini race certainly provided some drama on it’s first addition to the IAME International Final at Le Mans. The American’s were the drivers to beat and Ugo Ugochukwu (USA) was leading early on before a full course yellow flag followed immediately by a red flag came out early in the race. This sparked some confusion between the ten or two drivers battling for the lead at the time, through turn two some had realised the yellows and clearly others hadn’t and it resulted with contact and many drivers receiving front fairing penalties.
Victims to this included Santiago Trisin (USA) who lost the race win as a result. The manic race also saw Bart Ploeg (NED) retire three laps from the end and Ugochukwu was penalised for not respecting the slow procedure when full course yellows came out. Maximus Mayer (ESP) and Mateo Rubio Luengo (ES) were two more drivers who lost on out on podiums due to front fairing penalties and it resulted in a pretty mixed up order.
The win eventually went to Brent Crews. He stayed out of trouble, kept his nose clean and was fast all weekend. Trisini was still 2nd despite his penalty, finishing 3rd was Patrick Hakala (EST) and Dani Prins (NED) and Michael Sauter (SUI) rounded out the top five.
1st Brent Crews (USA)
2nd Santiago Trisini (USA) +5sec
3rd Patrick Hakala (EST)
4th Dani Prins (NED)
5th Michael Sauter (SUI)