Petit Le Mans: Kristensen takes title

After 1,000 miles and nine and a half hours of threading their Joest Racing Audi R8 through often difficult slower traffic, Tom Kristensen and Rinaldo Capello emerged victorious from the fifth running of the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. In the process, Kristensen also secured the American Le Mans Series P900 category title

Petit Le Mans: Kristensen takes title

After the No. 1 Audi of early leaders Emanuele Pirro and Frank Beila hit trouble, first with a stop-and-go penalty for contact with a slower car, then a dead battery and later with accident damage, Kristensen and Capello found their No. 2 embroiled in a tight mid-race duel with the Champion Audi of Johnny Herbert and Stefan Johansson - until the Champion car made a pit stop just prior to a full-course yellow. When the yellow Audi was able pit under caution, it resulted in nearly a full lap lead and that, as they say, was that.

Herbert and Johansson, whose car enjoyed equal specification with the works machines for the first time this season, rolled home a minute behind the winners. Four laps back of them came the third-placed Cadillac Northstar LMP 02 of JJ Lehto, Max Angelelli and Christophe Tinseau, who gave Cadillac its fourth consecutive podium finish in the marque's apparent swansong. The second Cadillac of Eric Bernard, Emmanuel Collard and Wayne Taylor finished fourth, a further lap back, while the Panoz LMP-1 of Bryan Herta, Bill Auberlen and Gunnar Jeannette rounded out the top five.

The Pirro/Biela Audi recovered for sixth after losing five laps to the battery replacement and a dozen more to repairs from an incident with the Dyson Racing MG/Lola; driven at the time by Andy Wallace. After qualifying third, the Dyson entry, that the Englishman shared with countryman James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger, had run as high as second overall and was leading the P675 class when Wallace smelled fuel. Before he could get to the pits to investigate, fire broke out as he headed onto the back straight. Pirro was right behind, preparing to pass.

"I had momentum going because they are very fast on the straights," Pirro said, "and I saw some flame and his car just stopped! I could not avoid him."

The contact knocked Wallace off the track and he jumped quickly out to try and help the corner worker put out the fire. Pirro hobbled back to the pits, where the red Audi was taken behind the wall and the left front corner and front bodywork replaced. Biela rejoined, but some19 laps behind the leader.

The Dyson car's departure gave the Knighthawk MG/Lola of Chad Block/Andy Lally/Steve Knight the 675 lead and a five-lap advantage over the Banana Joe's MG/Lola of Jon Field/Duncan Dayton/Michael Durand. The Knighthawk car soon hit engine troubles, however, dropping off the pace and handing the class win - and the class title - to Field.

The GTS class shootout between the Prodrive Ferrari crew of Tomas Enge, Peter Kox and Alain Menu and the factory Corvette C5-Rs went all the way to the final laps. The Ferrari led from the two factory Vettes, but with just under 50 laps to go, the red car made an unscheduled pitstop. The bolt holding the right-front lower wishbone and the upright together had worked loose, and the time lost to the repair gave Ron Fellows a full lap lead, which he converted into the win.

In the GT category, Alex Job Racing's clever strategy to have Lucas Luhr and Sascha Maassen tie for the class crown worked to perfection, as Maassen got the bonus point for driving the most laps and erased the one-point deficit he'd taken into the race. Their McKenna Porsche 911 GT3R led most of the way and endured late overheating to claim the win from the Petersen Racing Porsche of Randy Pobst, Johnny Mowlem and Michael Petersen, with the Ferrari 360 Modena of Anthony Lazzaro and Ralf Kelleners taking third.

shares
comments
Qualifying: Biela on pole

Previous article

Qualifying: Biela on pole

Next article

Mowlem's musings

Mowlem's musings
Load comments
Why the Jaguar E-type remains special at 60 Plus

Why the Jaguar E-type remains special at 60

It’s 60 years since the Jaguar E-type arrived and caused a sensation. As our resident racer Ben Anderson discovered when he got behind the wheel of two special racing versions at Brands Hatch, the thrill of driving them hasn't diminished over time

GT
Jul 31, 2021
The rise of a GT squad responsible for a unique 24-hour racing feat Plus

The rise of a GT squad responsible for a unique 24-hour racing feat

It's a significant achievement to win one 24-hour race in a year, let alone two, and with different manufacturers, but that's exactly what ROWE Racing did in 2020 at the Nurburgring and Spa. This weekend's German classic offers the DTM newcomer a chance of another unique double to add to its growing collection of accolades

GT
Jun 3, 2021
The new threat facing motorsport's greatest success story Plus

The new threat facing motorsport's greatest success story

The manufacturers were unconvinced – and even hostile – when Stephane Ratel launched GT3 in 2006. Now, 15 years on from its debut, they’ve sold more than 2000 cars and counting, but its continued expansion puts the increasingly globalised category at risk of losing its roots

GT
May 25, 2021
The Lamborghini teams plotting to stop a RAM raid on British GT Plus

The Lamborghini teams plotting to stop a RAM raid on British GT

With the Silver pairings that dominated 2020 now banned, Mercedes pair Yelmer Buurman and Ian Loggie could be in the box seat after winning last year's Pro-Am crown. But a swarm of Lamborghinis, with the defending outright champion among them, will ensure they face tough opposition

GT
May 21, 2021
How McLaren’s GT3 ‘single-seater’ defies expectations Plus

How McLaren’s GT3 ‘single-seater’ defies expectations

Time in a thoroughbred racer leaves you searching for time in yourself, especially when the rewards for total commitment are so high, as our man discovered at Snetterton

GT
Apr 28, 2021
How Ferrari's F1 protege became a Mercedes GT prodigy Plus

How Ferrari's F1 protege became a Mercedes GT prodigy

Raffaele Marciello once appeared to be Ferrari’s next Italian F1 star, but is now under the pay of its German arch-rival in GTs – and he’s very happy with his life

GT
Apr 8, 2021
Why GTE's future is a conundrum with no easy answers Plus

Why GTE's future is a conundrum with no easy answers

The convergence between the World Endurance Championship and IMSA over LMDh regulations offers a bright future for sportscar racing, but the imminent demise of IMSA's GT Le Mans class creates wider issues to which no catch-all solution exists

GT
Feb 3, 2021
How Tandy joined an exclusive club of endurance legends Plus

How Tandy joined an exclusive club of endurance legends

Victory at last year's Spa 24 Hours meant Nick Tandy had completed the unofficial sextuple crown of the world's six biggest endurance races, becoming the first Briton to do so. Ahead of his fresh start with Corvette Racing, he explains how he did it

GT
Jan 23, 2021