In the LMP2 class, Ray Mallock’s No. 25 RML Lola/AER driven by Andy Wallace/Tommy Erdos/Mike Newton had a dominant victory, winning over two American Le Mans Series teams, the No. 24 Binnie Motorsports Zytek of Bill Binnie/Allen Timpany/Yojiro Terada (17 laps back) and the No. 27 Miracle Motorsports Courage C60/AER of John Macaluso/Andy Lally/Ian James (19 laps back).
The GT1 class race was a titanic battle between two-time winners Corvette Racing and the works Aston Martin team fielded by David Richards’ renowned Prodrive organization. As was the case with Audi, both teams had one car hit trouble and one running relatively unscathed. The No. 009 Aston Martin DBR9 of Pedro Lamy/Stephane Ortelli/Stephane Sarrazin and the No. 64 Corvette of Oliver Gavin/Olivier Beretta/Jan Magnussen ran almost nose-to-tail throughout, with the Aston taking the class lead in the seventh hour when the Corvette team had trouble with a pit stop. The two cars ran almost identical times throughout the night and it looked like the Aston would win until it had a clutch problem with just under three hours to go and dropped down the order to third in class, giving the win to the No. 64 Corvette for the third straight year and second to the sister No. 007 Aston of Tomas Enge/Andrea Piccini/Darren Turner.
The result in the GT2 class was even more of a surprise. The No. 83 Seikel Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Lars Erik Nielsen/Pierre Ehret/Dominik Farnbacher got into the race as a reserve car when another competitor dropped out prior to the test day. They led from the fifth hour on, but were felled by transmission problems with one hour remaining, costing them a five-lap lead and the win. Taking the class victory by one lap was the Team LNT Panoz Esperante of Tom Kimber-Smith, Richard Dean and Lawrence Tomlinson, marking the first Le Mans win for Dr. Don Panoz’ eponymous car company on the 10th anniversary of its debut. Third in class went to the Scuderia Ecosse Ferrari F430 GT of Andrew Kirkaldy, Tim Mullen and Chris Niarchos, another nine laps back.
As ever, the 24 Hours of Le Mans is about preparation. It’s not a matter of if a team will have problems; it is a matter of when they will have problems, and how they will deal with them. This year’s race was a good one, with history being made at the front and upset results further back. If this classic race is any sort of barometer for the state of international sports car racing, it would appear that the patient is healthy indeed. We look forward to the future.
ACO 24 Hours of Le Mans Top Five:
1) Frank Biela/Emanuele Pirro/Marco Werner, No. 8 LMP1 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R10, 380 laps
2) Sebastien Loeb/Franck Montagny/Eric Helary, No. 17 LMP1 Pescarolo Sport Pescarolo C60/Judd, -4 laps
3) Allan McNish/Tom Kristensen/Rinaldo Capello, No. 7 LMP1 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R10, -13 laps
4) Oliver Gavin/Olivier Beretta/Jan Magnussen, No. 64 LMGT1 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C6R, -25 laps
5) Emmanuel Collard/Nicolas Minassian/Erik Comas, No. 16 LMP1 Pescarolo Sport Pescarolo C60/Judd, -28 laps
NHRA: Fuller, Capps and Line Score at E-Town
The National Hot Rod Association’s Powerade Drag Racing Series made its annual stop at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J., this weekend, and the big winners at the end of the weekend were “Hot” Rod Fuller in Top Fuel, points leader Ron Capps in Funny Car and Jason Line in Pro Stock.
Until Sunday, Larry Dixon owned one of the more unique records in racing, having won on Father’s Day for the past five years, dating back to the birth of his son. Fuller ended that streak, pasting Dixon with a 4.692sec/314.24mph run to Dixon's tire-hazing 4.825/299.73. On the way to his third career win, Fuller defeated Clay Millican, Doug Kalitta and Brandon Bernstein, while Dixon got past points leader Melanie Troxel, Tony Schumacher and Hillary Will.
In Funny Car, Capps captured his fifth victory in seven final-round appearances this year, beating defending champ Gary Scelzi, in his first final-round appearance of the year, at the start with a .079sec to .133sec holeshot, and getting to the line first with a 5.025/299.46 to Scelzi's faster-but-losing 5.012/301.81. Capps marched past Jim Head, a red-lighting Phil Burkhart and Tommy Johnson Jr. in the semis, while Scelzi trailered both Cruz and Tony Pedregon and Tony Bartone.
Dave Connolly got to the Pro Stock final on the strength of some awesome reaction times, but Jason Line out-holeshotted the holeshotter in the final, getting off the line with an awesome .013sec RT to Connolly’s .036, with the final result being Line’s 6.729/205.98 to Connolly’s 6.739/206.45. Line beat Greg Stanfield, Rickie Smith and Allen Johnson en route to the final, while Connolly bested V. Gaines and Warren and Kurt Johnson.
The teams head to Middle America in two weeks for the next round, at St. Louis’ Gateway International Raceway.
Atlantics: James Hinchcliffe made it a win-win weekend at Portland for Forsythe Championship Racing, winning his first career race in the Champ Car Atlantic Series in Portland on Sunday ahead of MiJack Conquest Racing’s Ryan Lewis and Forsythe teammate Andreas Wirth. Graham Rahal started from pole for the second straight race, but was punted out of the race on the first lap.