GT drivers talk about Petit LeMans If the 13th Petit Le Mans powered by MAZDA 2 isn’t the most important race in the history of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patr¢n, it certainly ranks on the podium. Championships in all four classes are up for grabs – a first in the Series – and none is as hotly contested as GT. Some of the key players in the class spoke about what’s at stake – race victory, class championship, invitation to the Le Mans 24 Hours next year, among others – in the annual 1,000-mile/10-hour classic at Road Atlanta.
Tommy Milner, BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team
BMW M3 GT
“With one race to go, we’re only one point out of the manufacturer’s championship, and Petit Le Mans is where it will all be decided. Anything can happen in an endurance race but with our combination of cars, team, drivers, and tires we have to be one of the favorites. It’s going to be at least nine hours of flat-out racing and the ones who make the least mistakes will be out front. I’m up for the challenge as I’m sure the rest of the BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team is. Road Atlanta is one of those tracks where every lap is exciting whether you are by yourself or racing on the last lap and I hope to see the No. 92 M3 GT out front at the checkers.”
Johnny O’Connell, Corvette Racing
“It’s certainly big for us because we haven’t gotten a win. We want to finish up with one so we can move forward to next year. There are championships on the line, there is such a huge field … the excitement of the season coming to the end. It’s appropriate that the last race is Petit Le Mans. I think it should be every year. After all Road Atlanta is the birthplace of ALMS.”
Jaime Melo, Risi Competizione
Ferrari F430 GT
“Petit Le Mans is always really difficult because it’s a very fast track and very busy. It’s narrow, especially the first part of the track, and there’s not much room for overtaking. There are a lot of cars and we need to be patient with the traffic and during the first part of the race. We have used a spotter in the past which helps some of the drivers.
“Our approach will be to try to score maximum points we can for the Team and Manufacturers’ championships and for sure to try and protect the car to reach the end of the race without any trouble. We had a good car last year, although the weather was a bit strange. But thinking back to the year before we did well here, so I am confident for 2010. Hopefully we can end the Ferrari 430’s life in the ALMS in the best way possible.”
Jörg Bergmeister, Flying Lizard Motorsports
Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
“The title is virtually within our grasp, although with 30 points for the winner, anything could happen. Still, we’ll be doing everything to bring home as many points as possible and to also secure the manufacturer title for Porsche and team title for Flying Lizard Motorsports. The track is very picturesque, but very challenging. It puts a lot of demands on a driver. With the many pit stops, strategy and teamwork play a major role. And our Flying Lizard Motorsports boys have proven often enough that they are the best at this.”
Paul Gentilozzi, JaguarRSR
Jaguar XKR GT
“The Petit Le Mans event obviously holds significance for our program as it was where we debuted the Jaguar GT last year. In over a year’s time, we have made a lot of progress. Success at Petit Le Mans is important to us as it represents one of the toughest endurances tests in the United States. Having a second car there not only doubles our chances, but also allows us to expand our program in anticipation of the 2011 season.”