Michelin claims 10th straight Petit LeMans
Michelin celebrated an historic 10th consecutive win in the prestigious Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in a dramatic 1,000-mile race won by a car that was not yet on the track when the race began.
Audi’s Allan McNish, embarrassed by a spin on his installation lap approximately one hour before the start of the race was two laps down when his repaired #1 Audi R10 TDI finally emerged from the Champion Audi compound to join the fray. That made the victory before a record weekend crowd of 113,000 all the sweeter, as McNish and co-drivers Dindo Capello and Emanuele Pirro battled to regain the lead lap and salute their heroic team by claiming the victory.
The race featured a stunning 29 lead changes as five different manufacturers: Audi; Peugeot; Porsche; Acura, and Zytek each led the race at various stages, but it was McNish’s daring move on the race leading Peugeot 908 of Christian Klien with just 30 laps remaining that proved decisive. The victory extended Audi’s streak at Petit Le Mans to nine consecutive wins.
Michelin technical partners from Audi; Peugeot; Penske Porsche; Dyson Porsche; De Ferran Acura; Corvette Racing; Risi Ferrari; Flying Lizard Porsche; Tafel Ferrari, and Team LNT Ginetta Zytek combined to claim the top 14 positions in the star-studded 38 car field which shattered the previous track record by over 2.5 seconds.
Held under perfect conditions, the 2.54-mile track was fast and the traffic furious as the race leaders, five of which finished on the lead lap, made several hundred passes each in the 394 lap, 1,000-mile event, the 10th and penultimate stop on the 2008 American Le Man Series.
In addition to the 10th consecutive victory at Petit Le Mans, Michelin and its technical partners claimed the top 14 positions, including victories in all four ALMS classes and sweeps of the ALMS podiums. The Peugeot of Klien, Stephane Sarrazin and Nic Minassian taking second place ahead of the #2 Audi of 2008 ALMS P1 champions Marco Werner and Lucas Luhr.
Led by IndyCar stars Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves, the yellow Porsche RS Spyders of Penske Racing swept the P2 class podium, while teammates Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard clinched their second consecutive P2 drivers championship.
Corvette Racing’s Johnny O’Connell and Jan Magnussen clinched the GT1 title and claimed class honors with an assist from co-driver Ron Fellows.
The fiercely contested GT2 class saw 2008 Le Mans 24 Hour class winners Mika Salo and Jaime Melo in the Risi Ferrari take the race win, but the #45 Flying Lizard of Jorg Bergmeister, and Wolf Henzler claimed the team’s long awaited first championship with an assist from Marc Lieb.
The Michelin success extended into the inaugural “Green Challenge”, the first “green racing” event held in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; U.S. Department of Energy; and SAE International. The GT1 class winning #3 Corvette took GT and overall Green Challenge honors and the #6 Penske Porsche RS Spyder claimed Prototype honors. Both are Michelin technical partner manufacturers and teams.
Johnny O’Connell—Corvette Racing
“A lot of the improvement in lap times comes from tire technology, especially Michelin. The Michelin tire development and technology is out of this world. For a tire maker, taking on Michelin, it is like a car manufacturer coming into GT1 to take on Corvette Racing. To beat Michelin at this kind of racing you need to be good and to be committed.”
Silvia Mammone, Motorsports Manager Michelin North America:
“Petit Le Mans is a major event and the manufacturers and teams put a high priority on success. The pace of development in the ALMS is truly impressive and reflected in the speeds both in qualifying and in the race. We are very pleased that, thanks to the efforts of our technical partners and our Michelin engineers and technical staff that our teams were so successful. We are pleased to claim a 10th consecutive victory in Petit Le Mans for Michelin and for our technical partner teams to win the inaugural Green Challenge.”
Rex Mizer, Lead Security Officer, Road Atlanta press center:
“I figured out one thing real fast. If you aren’t wearing a Michelin hat, then you didn’t win anything.”