Michelin tires prove too much for inferior brands
A stirring fight between two of racing’s premier prototype teams provided the perfect ending to a literally perfect season for Michelin as partner teams from Audi; Porsche; Corvette and Ferrari completed a perfect 2007 American Le Mans Series season by claiming victories in all four classes at the final race of the season, the Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Taking the lead on lap 131 after the final caution period of the four hour race on Audi R10 TDI driver Rinaldo “Dindo” Capello passed Penske Porsche RS Spyder driver Romain Dumas at turn two of the historic 2.238 mile circuit and despite repeated side-by side attempts and counter-moves by the lighter, more nimble LMP2 Porsche but the two drivers fought a fierce but scrupulously fair fight as the Audi prevailed by 0.410 seconds.
The victory completed a memorable season for the Audi R10 TDI diesel team which captured the first two races, before seeing their rivals from Porsche string together eight consecutive overall race wins and ultimately saw a determined Audi rebound to claim the final two events at Road Atlanta and here at Laguna Seca.
“This was indeed world class motor racing,” said Silvia Mammone, manager motorsports Michelin North America. "Today’s race was an ideal way to end the 2007 season and a tribute to our partner teams and our Michelin tire developers, managers and team engineers who worked to continuously develop performance throughout the season.”
Fittingly, the four 2007 ALMS Class champions all won their respective classes.
The only championships still in play entering the race were in the GT2 class where the Ferraris of Risi Competizione squared off against the Porsches of the Flying Lizard team. After surrendering the early lead to the #45 Flying Lizard Porsche, the #62 Risi Ferrari pounced and went on to secure its eighth victory of the season and the manufacturer, team and driver titles for Ferrari; Risi and co-driver Mika Salo and Jaime Melo. The championship is the first for Ferrari in what they have come to consider a very important championship in GT racing.
If records are made to be broken, Michelin and its American Le Mans Series partner teams created plenty of opportunities for future record breakers after completing the 2007 by turning the Laguna Seca record book to mulch. Dropping the ALMS track qualifying record by a stunning 3.205 seconds and setting new race records in all four ALMS classes, the new qualifying and race lap records in all four ALMS classes raise the 2007 total to 81 lap records, which is, of course, also a record. Within the first seven laps of the four-hour long race, all of the race lap records fell as 10 of the 11 Michelin prototype cars bettered the track record in their respective classes.