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ALMS – Chevy Presents Petit Le Mans – Quick Summary / Last Hour +
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© Russell Wittenberg

Champion Racing wins the Petit Le Mans for the second year in a row. JJ Lehto and Marco Werner drove a perfect race and avoided the troubles that befell their competitors. Johnny Herbert returns to the ALMS with a second place finish for himself and first time PLM competitor Pierre Kaffer. Hanging on for third overall was the #20 Dyson Lola of Chris Dyson and Jan Lammers. It was an excellent finish for the Dyson team, after overcoming starter trouble early on. Is this the best finish in an endurance race for the Lola B01/60? The sister car recovered to ninth overall, having charged through the bulk of the GT Class.

Clint Field, Robin Liddell and Milka Duno were able to cruise to the P2 class victory after their rivals, the Miracle Motorsports Courage, retired with electrical problems. This finish will force the P2 championship to be decided at the Finale in Monterey next month. I asked John Macaluso if they would have the problem remedied for Laguna. His suggestive reply was, “What would you think if I brought another one of these (pointing to his C65) over to make this sure doesn’t happen again? It could happen.” Hmmm, I would love to see two Courages at Laguna!

The Corvette win was no surprise, but it was an outstanding intrasquad battle to get there. It took a sneaky move out of the pits to get the #4 car around the #3, after trailing it for much of the race. Oliver Gavin on the move that finally got him past Ron Fellows: “The cars are so equal that it is very difficult to pass cleanly. And they demand that we race each other cleanly. So our strategy was to try to make the move through a quick pitstop and out lap. It worked perfectly; I came out of the pits right along side Ron going into two. We both held our lines, raced side by side, once my tires came up to temperature I was able to get by and build a little cushion.” The Carsport Viper held off a late charge by the ACEMCO Saleen (trouble pumping fuel from the whole tank) to secure a podium finish for Tom Weickhardt’s team.

It was another intrasquad battle in GT as the Alex Job cars were nose to tail for what seemed like the entire race. The #23 of Bernhard, Bergmeister and Maassen edged the team car by just .367 of a second, and that was not a contrived close finish. Sascha Maassen assumed ‘control’ by passing Wolf Henzler in the ninth hour, and pulling out a 14 second lead. Craig Stanton and David Murray piloted the Petersen-White Lightning Porsche to a solid third placing. Risi completed a strong run with its Ferrari to finish fourth in class, with the #45 Lizard Porsche recovering very well to fifth.

The BAM! car also got ahead of the #66 TRG Porsche, after Patrick Long had a late visit to a gravel trap. The J3, #67 TRG and Cirtek Porsches completed the relatively untroubled GT finishers, ahead of the (second in class) #13 Lola (a late wing replacement was needed) and the third in GTS Viper – and the Saleen. Rounding out the runners were the #6 Lamborghini (split oil cooler), #8 Foxhill Porsche, the repaired #44 Flying Lizard Porsche and the Panoz.

No surprises at the seventh running of the Petit Le Mans, as the usual suspects won convincingly. We needed one of the former 675s to run trouble free, but that didn’t quite happen.

 

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