Petit LeMans factoids
· The 2006 Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda CX-7 is the ninth annual 1,000-mile/10-hour race at historic Road Atlanta. The first Petit Le Mans in 1998 provided the foundation for the American Le Mans Series, which launched the next year with the 12 Hours of Sebring. In addition to the glory of winning one of the globe's most prestigious motor races, class winners also receive a much coveted automatic invitation to next year's 75th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world's greatest sports car race. Since 1999, nine (9) Series teams have used their victory at Petit Le Mans as a springboard for a class win at the 24 Hours the following year.
· Road Atlanta, the only Series circuit to hold more than one race in a single season, has played host to more American Le Mans Series events than any circuit in Series history - this year's Petit Le Mans will make 10. In addition to six previous 1,000-mile races from 1999-2005, the track also has played host to the Grand Prix of Atlanta, a two-hour, 45-minute sprint, in 2005, 2003 and 1999.
· The unique format for Petit Le Mans involves a race of 1,000 miles (394 laps) or 10 hours, whichever comes first. It is the only American Le Mans Series race of 2006 that is distance-measured rather than time-measured. In eight previous Petit Le Mans competitions, the longest race has been nine (9) hours and 48 minutes (the inaugural event in 1998) with the shortest covering eight (8) hours and 56 minutes (1999). A summary of previous Petit Le Mans race lengths:
· Twelve (12) drivers who drove in the inaugural Petit Le Mans (1998) are slated to compete in 2006: Bill Auberlen, David Brabham, Emmanuel Collard (won first event in a Ferrari 333SP), Ron Fellows, Jon Field, Stefan Johansson, Darren Law, Butch Leitzinger, Stephane Ortelli, Didier Theys, Eric van de Poele and Andy Wallace.
Ortelli, now driving for Risi Competizione and a winner at Mosport, is making his first Petit Le Mans start since 1998, and Allan McNish, is making his first start at Road Atlanta since 2000.
· A total of 370 different drivers have made starts in at least one of the previous eight Petit Le Mans since 1998. David Brabham, Ron Fellows and Jon Field are the only drivers to have competed in each race since 1998.
· Other prominent drivers who competed in the first-ever Petit Le Mans include the late Michele Alboreto, Jorg Muller, Bob Wollek, Hurley Haywood and Yannick Dalmas, who was driving the 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning Porsche 911 GT1 that became airborne and flipped between turns seven and eight on the long Road Atlanta backstretch after it had led 234 of the first 235 laps of the event.
· Petit Le Mans is the site of the longest-standing qualifying record in American Le Mans Series history. Allan McNish set the current LMP1 mark of 1:10.379 (129.925 mph) in September 2000 in an Audi R8 on his way to the Series championship and Petit Le Mans win. McNish also holds the record for fastest race lap, 1:11.782 (127.386 mph), set in 2000.
· All 10 class winners from 2005 are back at Petit Le Mans in search of repeats: Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro (Champion Racing, LMP1); Clint Field, Jon Field and Liz Halliday (Intersport Racing, LMP2); Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Jan Magnussen (Corvette Racing, GT1); and Patrick Long and Jorg Bergmeister (Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing, GT2). All drivers will be back with their 2005 entries except Pirro and Biela in an Audi R10 TDI for Audi Sport North America.
· Jon Field can set an all-time Series record with his sixth Series triumph at Road Atlanta, breaking a tie he currently shares with Lucas Luhr (Sebring), and Johnny O'Connell and Ron Fellows (Infineon Raceway). Penske Racing's Sascha Maassen can extend his record for Petit Le Mans victories with his fifth this season - his first in a prototype (LMP2 class and potentially overall) with the first four coming in the GT2 class. He will partner with Timo Bernhard and Emmanuel Collard in one of two Penske Porsche RS Spyders.
· Audi is unbeaten in eight Road Atlanta starts since its first race at the Georgia track in the 2000 Petit Le Mans. The German marque has recorded four 1-2 finishes in Petit Le Mans - 2000-02 and 2004. In 2001, Audi R8s took the top three positions at the end of the 1,000-mile race.
· Porsche is all-time winningest manufacturer in the history of Petit Le Mans with 10 wins. Porsche is seeking a fifth consecutive Petit Le Mans GT2 class title and eighth victory in nine tries. Porsche also won three of the four classes during the inaugural event in 1998. BMW (2001) is the only other GT2 victor at the 1,000-mile event.
· The Corvette Racing trio of Olivier Beretta, Oliver Gavin and Jan Magnussen are seeking their third straight GT1 class win at Petit Le Mans. Earlier this year, the trio captured its third consecutive class win at Le Mans. Counting his win with Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell in 2002, Gavin, going for a fourth Petit Le Mans class victory, having won three of the last four GT1 races at the endurance event (2005, 2004, 2003).
With a victory at Petit Le Mans in 2006, Corvette Racing would become the first 'Entrant' to win six times.
THOSE PRECIOUS AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS
With two American Le Mans Series rounds remaining - Petit Le Mans (September 27-30) and the Monterey Sports Car Championships (October 19-21) - and 49 championship points at stake, the driver and manufacturer races in three of the fourth Series classes are the tightest in the history of the Series.
In LMP1, Audi R10 teammates Rinaldo (Dindo) Capello and Allan NcNish clinched a championship with a victory at Mosport. It was the second Series title for McNish (2000) and Capello's first.
In LMP2, teammates Lucas Luhr and Sascha Maassen, driving separate Penske Racing Porsche RS Spyders, are tied for first place with 139, only 5 points ahead of defending class champion and season-long point leader Clint Field and Liz Halliday of Intersport Racing (134). Maassen inched to a two-point lead after Road America while Field/Halliday have specialized in consistent podium finishes to stay alive in the championship hunt. Porsche RS Spyder drivers Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas - now split in the two different entries - stand third (110) points and still have a shot at the LMP2 driving championship.
In GT1, defending driving champions Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin have built an 18-point lead over Corvette Racing teammates Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell, and Aston Martin's Tomas Enge (120). They are just ahead of Stephane Sarrazin (118) of Aston Martin followed by teammates Darren Turner (107) and Pedro Lamy (102), who remain in the hunt statistically.
In GT2, it's down to a two-driver shootout for the championship between season-long points leader Johannes van Overbeek (118) and Jorg Bergmeister (102). Bergmeister lost some ground at Mosport after running upfront when late race mechanical issues related him to sixth in class. He is a proven winner at Petit Le Mans and is seeking is fourth consecutive GT2 class victory while teammate Patrick Long is third in driver points (92).