American Le Mans Series, round 11 in Braselton (Road Atlanta), USA: Porsche wins driver title

With the fifth straight class victory Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France) won the driver title in the LMP2 category of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). In their Porsche RS Spyder run by Penske Racing, the German-French duo, with support from Patrick Long (USA) for the 1000 mile “Petit Le Mans” race, were narrowly beaten to overall victory by the LMP1 class Audi R10 which is more than 200 hp stronger and has a better power-to-weight ratio. Driving the last stint, Dumas crossed the finish line after 9:19 hours just 0.923 seconds behind the overall leader.

The tenth running of the Petit Le Mans near the city of Atlanta, Georgia, was characterised by nine safety car phases. 22 laps before the end of the race Romain Dumas led in his 478 hp RS Spyder in front of Dindo Capello’s second-placed Audi by 35 seconds. The final caution phase however bunched up the field again. At the restart on the long straight of Road Atlanta, Dumas had no chance against Capello’s substantially more powerful Audi.

“Unfortunately the last safety car phase cost us the possible overall victory. But that’s long distance racing. In Mosport luck was on our side, this time Audi profited,” said Romain Dumas. “The many caution phases today made it difficult to maintain a rhythm,” explained Timo Bernhard. “But at the moment I’m just overjoyed to have collected the title in the driver classification. The season could hardly have been better.” Patrick Long was also pleased with his performance: “I’m proud that I could make a small contribution to Timo and Romain’s well-deserved title. My aim was not to make a mistake and this worked.”

Sascha Maassen (Germany), Ryan Briscoe (Australia) and Emmanuel Collard (France) had to settle for fifth position in the LMP2 class in their #6 Porsche RS Spyder. In a collision with a GT vehicle Maassen sustained heavy damages to the front of his car. Penske Racing repaired the damage in record time, but still Maassen lost 24 laps in the pits.

Second place in the LMP2 class went to the Porsche-supported US privateer Dyson Racing team. Chris Dyson (USA) and Guy Smith (Great Britain) in the #20 RS Spyder crossed the finish line eight laps behind the winner. Andy Wallace (Great Britain), Butch Leitzinger (USA) and Andy Lally (USA) ranked fourth in the class with their #16 RS Spyder.

In the GT2 class for modified production sportscars, Porsche again underlined its special position in the particularly long and demanding race: Porsche GT3 RSR race cars occupied the first five places. Joerg Bergmeister (Germany), Johannes van Overbeek (USA) and Marc Lieb (Germany) won their class with Flying Lizard Motorsports ahead of Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Dominik Farnbacher (Germany) from Tafel Racing.

“To cross the finish line just 0.9 seconds behind the leader after 1000 miles is certainly not a disgrace. Motorsport can’t be much more exciting than this. The fans really get their money’s worth. And that’s why the ALMS rules should not be changed,” said Porsche’s head of motorsport, Hartmut Kristen. “Even though we narrowly missed out on overall victory I’m very satisfied. We won the driver title, Dyson Racing secured second in the LMP2 class and in the GT2 class five Porsches were in front.”

Overall result
McNish/Capello (GB/I), Audi R10 (LMP1), 394 laps
2. Bernhard/Dumas/Long (D/F/USA), Porsche RS Spyder (LMP2), 394
3. Dyson/Smith (USA/GB), Porsche RS Spyder (LMP2), 386
4. Mücke/Watts/Charouz (D/GB/CZ), Zytek 07S (LMP2), 383
5. Campbell-Walter/Primat/Tinseau (GB/CH/F), Creation CA 07 (LMP1), 377
6. Wallace/Leitzinger/Lally (GB/USA/USA), Porsche RS Spyder (LMP2), 372
7. Maassen/Briscoe (D/AUS), Porsche RS Spyder (LMP2), 370
8. Brabham/Johansson (AUS/USA), Acura ARX (LMP2), 365
9. Beretta/Gavin/Papis (MC/GB/USA), Chevrolet Corvette (GT1), 364
10. Bergmeister/van Overbeek/Lieb (D/USA/D), Porsche GT3 RSR (GT2), 353

Fastest race lap
Allan McNish, Audi R10, 1:09.195 minutes

Class winners
LMP1: McNish/Capello (GB/I), Audi R10
LMP2: Bernhard/Dumas/Long (D/F/USA), Porsche RS Spyder
GT1: Beretta/Gavin/Papis (MC/GB/USA), Chevrolet Corvette
GT2: Bergmeister/van Overbeek/Lieb (D/USA/D), Porsche GT3 RSR

Points standings
Driver LMP2 class
1. Timo Bernhard, Porsche, 216 Romain Dumas, Porsche, 216
3. Sascha Maassen, Porsche, 167 Ryan Briscoe, Porsche, 167
5. Andy Wallace, Porsche, 119 Butch Leitzinger, Porsche, 119
7. David Brabham, Acura, 113 Stefan Johansson, Acura, 113

Manufacturer LMP2 class
1. Porsche, 228
2. Acura, 153

The 12th round of the American Le Mans Series is contested on 20th October in Laguna Seca in California (USA). The season-final of the ALMS runs over a distance of four hours.