This weekend’s Petit Le Mans was to be the best race of the year for endurance racing aside from the 24 Hour event itself. The 1,000 mile/10 hour event would highlight the best teams from all over the world at Road Atlanta, but Mother Nature had other ideas. After about 4 hours of racing the heavens opened up and cut loose. Torrential rains saw the event cancelled at about the half way point with Peugeot taking a 1-2.
However, don’t be fooled. The Peugeot was clearly not the best car on this day and it showed during the first 4 hours. After taking a decisive 1-2 during qualifying, it looked as though it would be an epic battle as usual between the French Peugeot and German Audi. On lap 2 Alan McNish took the lead from the Peugeot squad and would not look back. Opening a comfortable gap, the Audi looked as though it would cruise to an easy win provided the car stayed together. Misfortune would visit Audi but not in the form of a mechanical problem. Right before the rain forced the stoppage of the event, Alan would spin the Audi in a rare mistake handing the 1-2 to Peugeot and formally ending Audi’s dominant streak at the Petit. I must say however that Peugeot would not have won the race and would not have broken the record if the rain would have not been as severe as it was. McNish and Capello were clearly the class of the field today and Audi should not go away at all with their heads down.
The LMP2 class was taken by the Lola Mazda piloted by Marino Franchitti, Butch Leitzinger and Ben Devlin. The Acura of Hernandez Racing was never really in the fight and the Mazda looked like it was destined for victory all weekend. That is a great result for BP Dyson Racing after the Mazda suffered from lack of pace most of the year. The team has made brilliant strides in recent weeks to get that car hooked up well.
The highly contested GT2 class was a buzz after the Doran Ford took pole position with the Riley Corvette lining up P2 in class. A great result for the two lowest funded GT2 cars in the series however, it would be short lived as the usual suspects would charge to the front and leave the two private teams behind. However it would be brilliant strategy by the #62 Risi Ferrari that would secure them the victory. The Ferrari had been behind the other heavy hitters all weekend, but a call to put the Ferrari on wets moments before the rain came would pay off. The Ferrari would stay on track as its competitors would have to pit for wets giving the Risi a one lap advantage. This followed by the stoppage in the race was all it would take to hand the victory to Melo/Kaffer/Salo. The BMW M3 piloted by Muller/Milner/Muller would finish in the runner up spot followed by the Wolf Henzler Porsche. The Doran Ford and Riley Corvette would finish well down the order after their shocking and brilliant qualifying efforts.
All in all a fun weekend that was cut too short because of weather. I would have liked to see the race between the big 2 continue to see the ground that Audi has made up on the aging Peugeot. This will probably be the last time or one of the last times the 908 comes to the US before being replaced. Would also like to have seen the highly competitive GT2 class continue, as a great battle would have occurred for the top spot as well as the championship battle between the Risi Ferrari and the Flying Lizard Porsche.
Pos Drivers Cl Car Time/Gap
1. Sarrazin/Montagny P1 Peugeot 4h48m11.557s
2. Minassian/Lamy P1 Peugeot + 2.011s
3. Capello/McNish P1 Audi + 3.465s
4. Luhr/Werner P1 Audi + 1 laps
5. Panis/Lapierre/Dumas P1 ORECA + 3 laps
6. Brabham/Sharp/Franchitti P1 Acura + 4 laps
7. Dyson/Smith UNC Lola-Mazda + 7 laps
8. Melo/Kaffer/Salo GT2 Ferrari + 14 laps
9. Muller/Milner/Muller GT2 BMW + 15 laps
10. Henzler/Werner GT2 Porsche + 15 laps
11. Beretta/Gavin/Fassler GT2 Corvette + 15 laps
12. Bergmeister/Long/Lieb GT2 Porsche + 15 laps
13. Leitzinger/Franchitti/Devlin P2 Lola-Mazda + 16 laps
14. Magnussen/O’Connell/Garcia GT2 Corvette + 16 laps
15. Law/van Overbeek/Neiman GT2 Porsche + 22 laps
16. Sutherland/Drissi/Bell GT2 Riley Corvette + 27 laps
17. Field/Field P1 Lola + 32 laps
18. Farnbacher/James GT2 Panoz + 32 laps
19. Burgess/McMurry/Willman P1 Lola + 40 laps
20. Murry/Robertson/Robertson GT2 Doran Ford + 42 laps
21. Fernandez/Diaz P2 Acura + 45 laps
22. Pickett/Graf/Maassen P2 Porsche + 48 laps
23. Sellers/Cicero GT2 Porsche + 48 laps
24. De Ferran/Pagenaud/Dixon P1 Acura + 48 laps
25. Hand/Auberlen/Priaulx GT2 BMW + 51 laps
26. Feinberg/Hall GT2 Dodge + 55 laps
27. Drayson/Cocker/Bell P1 Lola + 61 laps