Peugeot wins 2nd straight Petit LeMans
The second Peugeot of Anthony Davidson, Marc Gene and Alexander Wurz placed second after winning the season-opening race at Sebring. The Sarrazin car pitted with 34 minutes left without losing the lead to its sister car. Sarrazin and Montagny were winners in last yearâs race.
Last year we proved we were fastest, we didn't get to go to the end of the race but we really think and knew that we were fastest last year,â said Montagny, who set the fastest race lap Saturday. âThe results we got last year we didn't get to prove it. But this year, we had the same team, same car, and knew we could pull it out again.â
The two Peugeots combined to lead 299 of the 394 laps. Audi Sport Team Joestâs Audi R15 TDI finished third, two laps down. Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Dindo Capello teamed together, and the Audi suffered a late-race puncture that foiled any chances for victory.
There were nine caution periods but none over the last 106 laps. The battle wowed the record-breaking crowd of more than 124,000 race week fans.
âIt's always a difficult race with the traffic,â said Lamy, who said Saturday was his last race in the Peugeot. âWe knew we had to be fast through it. We knew there'd be a lot of safety cars. So Iâm really happy with it.â
âThe team did a great job, and we improved a lot in the strategy,â Sarrazin said. âWe did a lot of good times. It was a tough time with all the safety cars. We worked hard all week setting up the car. It was really good with such good balance. It was just perfect.â
Peugeot also finished 1-2 for the second consecutive race in the new Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, the global championship from the Automobile Club de lâOuest. With one race remaining in China, Peugeot leads Audi by 14 points.
âTo win Petit Le MansâŚ itâs a classic, one of the biggest in the world,â said Pagenaud, who won his first career Series title. âThe PHR team was fantastic all weekend. The car was perfect, but it was like driving a video game all day. Itâs great to be champion and thanks to my teammates for their brilliant work. Without them I wouldn't be here today. This was a chance to work with them and I have enjoyed it so much.â
In the MICHELINÂŽ GREEN XÂŽ Challenge competition for LMP cars, Drayson Racingâs cellulosic E85-powered Lola-Judd was the winner with drivers Paul Drayson and Jonny Cocker. The award goes to the car that best demonstrates overall performance and energy efficiency.
The Muscle Milk Team CytoSport Porsche RS Spyder of Klaus Graf, Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr placed second in class. The car ran on seven cylinders throughout the day which hampered its pace. The team entered with a chance to win the class title if PHR had finished with zero points. But the Highcroft HPD took the class lead on the 18th lap and never trailed again.
It was a fitting end to the season for the classâ most consistent team. The Duncan Dayton-owned team never finished off the class podium.
âItâs fantastic to be up here, and thanks to Duncan for this opportunity to drive with this team this year,â Franchitti said. âAnd thanks to David and Simon, they've been great partners this year. Iâm beside myself. Itâs been a great day. I feel great helping these guys and I feel like part of the championship today.â
Oak Racing, which made its first start in the Series, placed third. Jacques Nicolet, Patrice Lafargue and Frederic Da Rocha placed third in their Pescarolo-Judd.
The victory was PHRâs first since the Mid-Ohio round in August. The season-long battle was incredibly difficult with five different LMP race-winning teams.
âTo be sitting here as double champions, with the team and with Simon and Marino who did a stellar job this yearâŚ itâs great,â said Brabham, who won the 2009 LMP1 title with PatrÂ˘n Highcroft. âLook back at all the races and see how hard the team has worked. We finished on the podium in every race. CytoSport and Klaus (Graf) and their whole team did a great job. They really pushed us this year. And the rest of the paddock has worked well together this year.â
The GT2 battle was as tense as expected. Corvette Racing won for the first time this season when Risi Competizioneâs Ferrari F430 GT stopped with two turns remaining and out of fuel. Oliver Gavin drove by Toni Vilander and won with Jan Magnussen and Emmanuel Collard in their Corvette C6.R. It broke an 11-race winless streak for Corvette.
The victory meant that Corvette, Porsche, Ferrari and BMW all won races in the class this year.
âIt was a fantastic race,â said Magnussen, who has won in every ALMS season. âWe know we did our best, but we know we have to go away and work a little more. One win in one year is for sure not enough for us. We were close so many times but made some mistakes so weâre happy it finally went our way today.â
Gavin saw a car stopped at Turn 10 but wasnât sure which Ferrari he had gone by. Even when he took the checkered flag, it was a mystery to him.
âI kept asking, âWas that the leader? Was that the leader?â No one would answer me,â Gavin said. In Turn 1 they came on the radio and said, âWe won!â I would have loved to have seen the look on the crews faces when we did win because they have worked so hard all season really trying to get in the Winnersâ Circle. So to win this one was big for us.â
Extreme Speed Motorsports finished second with Dominik Farnbacher, Scott Sharp and Johannes van Overbeek sharing a Ferrari. Vilander was credited in third place with Gianmaria Bruni.
BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team placed fourth with one of its two BMW M3 GTs, good enough for the GT manufacturer championship for the German marque and team title for RLR.
âIf anyone doubted there isnât drama in motor racingâŚ just look at this GT2 class this season,â said BMW/RLR principal Bobby Rahal. âA great team is a great team regardless of where you compete, so I think we showed we belong in endurance racing as well as Indy car racing. And next year is going to be just as tough as this year. We know next year will be crazy. We're really excited now to come back because the competition will be even better.â
The teamâs No. 92 BMW M3 GT of Dirk Werner, Dirk Mueller and Joey Hand won the GT portion of the MICHELINÂŽ GREEN XÂŽ Challenge.
Porscheâs 911 GT3 R Hybrid, running in the event unclassified, finished an impressive 18th overall. Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Mike Rockenfeller drove the car in its North American debut.
Flying Lizard Motorsportsâ Patrick Long and JĂśrg Bergmeister placed fifth in their Porsche 911 GT3 RSR and won their second straight class driving title. They won four times on the season, the most in class.
âThe theme was competition. This was a field like we had never seen before,â said Long, who won his third Series title. âWhoever won this thing would be riding a high. BMW and Corvette have added so much to this rivalry between Ferrari and Porsche. Those guys are just tough on the track and off the track. This is the sweetest championship for me in my career.â
âIt was definitely an unbelievable season,â said Bergmeister, who claimed his fifth championship and third in a row.â I would have never expected at the beginning of the year to win this championship. Itsâ a shame we didnât win the team championship because we wouldnât be here without them. They did a fantastic job giving us a great car all season. It was a pleasure to drive for the Lizards.â
In LMP Challenge, Level 5 Motorsports won in class and claimed the first season championship. Scott Tucker, Marco Werner and Burt Frisselle took the LMPC race victory in their ORECA FLM09 with Tucker winning the driving title. Intersport Racingâs Kyle Marcelli, and Chapman and David Ducote placed second in class.
The winning Level 5 car started fifth in class but moved into podium position just past the half-hour mark. It swapped the lead with the Green Earth Team Gunnar entry and Intersportâs FLM09.The Level 5 car took the lead for good just past the five-hour mark and never trailed. The only hiccup was a late-race oil leak that required a couple of stops.
âWe had a bit of adversity that we were able to overcome with our team,â Tucker said. âIt was a busy day, thatâs for sure. I donât think my co-drivers put a wheel off today, and my hatâs off to them. Besides winning Sebring, this is one of my biggest wins. There were a lot of ups and downs when the 55 car (Level 5âs other car) was having troubles. But we saw our competitors also were having issues, otherwise I might have gotten worried a bit.â
PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports came home third with the driving trio of Luis Diaz, Ricardo Gonzalez and Ryan Lewis.
âThis is such a phenomenal event, and to participate with a team like Level 5 and be a part of what Scott has put together and in a fashion that we did it in is great,â Frisselle said. âWe had a lead, we had to protect it and get the championship for Scott.â
TRG won in GT Challenge, but Black Swan Racing won the team championship as did BSRâs Tim Pappas and Jeroen Bleekemolen in the driver standings. The TRG Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car of Andy Lally, Henri Richard and Duncan Ende won by 5.283 seconds over the Black Swan Porsche for the teamâs second win of the year.
The TRG and Black Swan entries swapped the class lead throughout the race. Lally took the lead at the start and led for the first 73 laps. The Black Swan car led the majority of the middle portion â 219 laps all together â before Lally and TRG took the lead for good on Lap 336.
âWe worked hard all season after Sebring and focused again,â Richard said. âNow today we put it all together and brought it home. My job was to protect the car and keep it on the track. Hats off to the team for doing a great job, really looking forward to next season and trying to be more successful next year.â
Magnus Racing, making its first Series start, placed third with the trio of Andrew Davis, John Potter and Ryan Eversley.
The championship for Pappas and Bleekemolen â who drove with Sebastiaan Bleekemolen on Saturday â seemed unlikely at the start of the year. The pairing missed Sebring and finished eighth at Long Beach before winning four times in five races. They never finished worse than second over the final seven events.
âEven though we didn't win the race we still had to focus,â said team owner Pappas. âWe had a problem and couldnât do anything to maintain our lead. But the guys worked really, really hard. Things happen like that in racing. I think it will hit tomorrow that we've won.â
âItâs great to be disappointed with a second place at a race like this, because after the first two races we would have been so excited just for that,â Jeroen Bleekemolen said. âIt was great that this (opportunity) came up this year. I had a lot of fun because were pushing each other so hard at every race.â
The 2011 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila PatrÂ˘n will open with the 59th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida on Saturday, March 19. The race also will serve as the opening round of the 2011 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup..
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