Deluge prompts Group C thriller at Le Mans

| 18 Jun 2012

An epic Group C support race at Le Mans over the weekend was won in heroic fashion by Bob Berridge in his Mercedes-Benz C11.

Held on the Saturday morning, the event was dogged by dire weather that made for massive rooster tails and breathtaking track action.

After a dry qualifying session, Berridge shared the front row of the grid with another Mercedes pilot, Gareth Evans, while star turn the 70-year-old Le Mans legend Derek Bell was back on the 10th row in his Porsche 962 (below).

When the race started Berridge pulled out an immediate lead with only Lancia LC2-mounted Kiwi Roger Wills able to give chase.

As the pair pulled out a huge lead, chaos reined further down the field several cars spinning at the Ford Chicane before they even crossed the start-line and then Mike Donovan's Spice and Alain Schlesinger's Tiga smashing into the armco, bringing out the safety car.

When the race restarted Berridge renewed his lead over Wills, with Evans coming home third, almost a minute behind.

Five-times Le Mans winner Bell (pictured below with son Sebastian) had charged up the field before losing his windscreen wipers, but soldiering on to finish 13th.

He said: "I’m staggered at how well the car went in the race, despite the long, low-downforce tail. I was able to catch cars up, but overtaking was very difficult with such poor visibility.

"My car was a bit twitchy in places but those were the worst conditions I’ve ever known here. I did go off once, in the Dunlop chicane, because I just could not see where I was. But it was great to drive a Group C again and, yes, I really enjoyed it.”