Petit Le Mans: Road Atlanta 2012 – Saturday Race Day

Here we have the final post on Petit Le Mans weekend.  One of the best and most exciting events we have ever covered. We have had some really good feedback on the content from the race this week, it is a pleasure that we can present the event to you. 

The 2012 Petit Le Mans was a strange year for the most obvious reason being the lack of the major manufacturer competitors such as Audi and Toyota who run the WEC. Although Petit was not a WEC round, the event itself was far from boring.

As usual, many teams made the trip across the Atlantic to compete such as your race winner, Rebellion, who run a WEC schedule but still managed to send over their backup car to compete in LMP1 with hopes of an overall win and their effort paid off. It wasn’t a walk in the park though as the ALMS Muscle Milk HPD who started just 0.339 seconds behind the Rebellion squad ran hard in the early stages until an accident.

The GT category has been one of the classes all year to watch and frequently referred to as the best sports car racing in the world. The ESM Patron Ferraris qualified on the front row of GT but 01 car was pushed back following post qualifying tech inspection. In the end however the ESM squad took the GT class honors beating the #3 Corvette by a small margin. Both were followed closely by the two BMWs.

PHOTOS BY: TIM EASTERDAY

Catch up on the previous days:

Wednesday Testing Session

Thursday Practice Session

Friday Qualifying Session

Race day is a beautiful thing at Road Atlanta. The sun rises and quickly warms the air from a cool night. All is quiet at this point, but the excitement builds for that amazing wake up call also known as the morning warm up.

The Delta Wing was the center of attention all weekend long. Here Gunnar Jeannette is in the car.

A recent addition the ALMS grid is Dempsey Racing based just down the road from Road Atlanta. Star driver Patrick Dempsey is best known for his role in television but has a strong passion for motorsport. They will be running one of Mazda’s new Skyactiv diesel engines next season.

The Muscle Milk HPD qualified just 0.339 seconds off the Rebellion. It would be a nose to tail battle between the two at the start of the race.

The Rebellion Lola Toyota.

Pre-race activities take place on the front straight before the race.

The American Le Mans Series has always been “for the fans” and to this day it still holds true. Where else can you walk the front straight with the cars lined up minutes before an international motor race?

Another shot of the grid walk crowd, you would never know that in the crowd there was a line of cars.

The grid walk is also a good chance to  get a chance to maybe have a conversation with your favorite driver.

Rebellion heads into turn one.

The two Dyson entered cars, both with Mazda power.

The #35 Oak Racing entry following the #20 Dyson Lola Mazda into turn one.

Level 5 Racing, your 2012 ALMS LMP2 champions.

The ESM team had one advantage during the week and that was the blinding of their competitors with their beautiful wrap for this weekend promoting Ultimat Vodka.

The two ground pounding Corvettes enter turn one.

The new Viper is beautiful and proving to be competitive as well with an eighth in class finish. Not bad for a newcomer to the series.

The Nissan Delta Wing enters turn one. Although it’s quite interesting to look at, the engineering effort behind the car is truly amazing. If you doubted its ability to turn, it does, quite well actually. They went on to finish fifth overall after an upside down weekend. See what I did there?

Fall is here and in the grille of many GT cars during the race. Here the Lotus Evora of Alex Job Racing heads into turn one.

The curbing at turn three is a wonderful place to catch the underside of some race cars, here the Flying Lizard Motorsport Porsche lifts two wheels chasing down one of the Corvettes.

The two top P1 contenders split momentarily by a slower GTC car.

Having a diet like the BMW is sure to lead to overheating issues.

One of the fronts of the Rebellion cars front ends, and one of the crew members checking his  facebook…haha

There was not much in the pits other than tires, and front ends.  I was trying to be sure to stay out of everyone’s way..

Caught a slightly frantic moment with one of the teams when, I believe what looked like to be the starter not working correctly.  They were scrambling around crazy trying to get the thing fixed.

Even the driver gave a hand, they had about 5 starters they were trying to get to work on the car.  It took them about 10 minutes to get a good working one in the car and get the car started. 

The Dempsey Lola powers on but sadly would not finish.

 I strolled through the pits again when Patrick Dempsey had just wrecked  his car. It was a slightly tense moment while everyone waited to see if he was ok.

Shortly after that The Dempsey car came into the pits.

The crew began ripping off the twisted and torn body panels, before letting it down into the teams temporary garage.

The crew gathered around and access the damage.

Here the Matmut Porsche is chased into turn five by the Delta Wing. The overall shape of the Delta Wing is quite something to look at and imagine how strange it must be to drive.

The #60 Ferrari GTE-AM car heading into turn 5 with a mouth full of landscape.

Traffic was tight all day, here the Dyson Lola Mazda leads a pack through turn 10B.

In a ten hour/1,000 mile race, things are bound to happen at some point.

and another victim…

The sun light fell and majority of the cars had their lights on…a shot of one of the damaged front ends of  the Muscle Milk cars still shining.

Road Atlanta’s turn twelve for many is horrifying enough in the middle of the day. Imagine the feel at dusk with cars all around you at triple digit speeds.

The Delta Wing powers on to finish 5th overall, an amazing finish for an amazing piece of engineering.

Traffic is the name of the game in endurance racing. Here the sun sets as Rebellion powers on to victory. Endurance racing is truly a spectacle like no other, especially when the sun starts to set.

The podium after a long day of racing. All well deserved.

Results - 394 laps: Pos Cl Drivers Team/Car Time/Gap

 1. P1     Belicchi/Jani/Prost             Rebellion Lola-Toyota    9h37m43.578s
 2. P2     Tucker/Bouchut/Diaz             Level 5 HPD                  + 3 laps
 3. P2     Tucker/Franchitti/Franchitti    Level 5 HPD                  + 4 laps
 4. P2     Beche/Thiriet/Tinseau           TDS ORECA-Nissan             + 4 laps
 5. UNC    Ordonez/Jeannette               Highcroft DeltaWing-Nissan   + 6 laps
 6. PC     Popow/Dalziel/Wilkins           CORE FLM                     + 9 laps
 7. P2     Nicolet/Baguette/Pla            OAK Morgan-Nissan           + 11 laps
 8. PC     Junqueira/Drissi/Vera           RSR FLM                     + 11 laps
 9. PC     Junco/Dobson/Julian             PR1 Mathiasen FLM           + 12 laps
10. PC     Bennett/Braun/Gonzalez          CORE FLM                    + 13 laps
11. PC     Marcelli/Downs/Ducote           Merchant FLM                + 18 laps
12. GT     Sharp/van Overbeek/Vilander     Extreme Speed Ferrari       + 19 laps
13. GT     Magnussen/Garcia/Taylor         Corvette                    + 19 laps
14. GT     Muller/Auberlen/Summerton       RLL BMW                     + 20 laps
15. GT     Muller/Alzen/Summerton          RLL BMW                     + 21 laps
16. GT     Bergmeister/Long/Pilet          Flying Lizard Porsche       + 21 laps
17. GT     Henzler/Sellers/Ragginger       Falken Porsche              + 22 laps
18. PC     Richard/Ende/Lewis              Dempsey FLM                 + 22 laps
19. GT     Neiman/Holzer/Tandy             Flying Lizard Porsche       + 25 laps
20. GT     Wittmer/Farnbacher/Hunter-Reay  SRT Viper                   + 25 laps
21. GT     Brown/Cosmo/Lazzaro             Extreme Speed Ferrari       + 26 laps
22. GT     Miller/Maassen/Lietz            Miller Porsche              + 27 laps
23. GTE-Am Pons/Narac/Armindo              Imsa Porsche                + 31 laps
24. GT     Sweedler/Bell/Mowlem            Alex Job Lotus              + 34 laps
25. GTC    Cisneros/Farnbacher/Giermaziak  NGT Porsche                 + 38 laps
26. GTC    Di Guida/Pumpelly/Canache       TRG Porsche                 + 43 laps
27. GTC    Collard/Gutierrez/Hedlund       TRG Porsche                 + 43 laps
28. GTC    Cumming/Valiante/Johnston       JDX Porsche                 + 43 laps
29. GTC    MacNeil/Keen/von Moltke         Alex Job Porsche            + 45 laps*
30. GT     Gavin/Milner/Westbrook          Corvette                    + 46 laps
31. P1     Dyson/Smith/Kane                Dyson Lola-Mazda            + 56 laps
32. P2     Brundle/Buncombe/Kimber-Smith   Greaves Zytek-Nissan        + 56 laps
33. P1     Luhr/Graf/Dumas                 Pickett HPD                 + 60 laps
34. P2     Hartley/Hughes/Firth            Murphy ORECA-Nissan         + 64 laps*
35. P1     Burgess/Patterson/McMurry       Dyson Lola-Mazda            + 72 laps*
36. GTC    Benitez/Bullitt/Segal           NGT Porsche                 + 76 laps
37. GTC    Faieta/Avenatti/Calvert-Jones   Competition Porsche        + 127 laps*
38. GTE-AM Perazzini/Cioci/Griffin         AF Ferrari                 + 162 laps*
39. GT     Goossens/Kendall/Bomarito       SRT Viper                  + 170 laps*
40. P2     Dempsey/Foster/Cameron          Dempsey Lola-Judd          + 174 laps*

Retirements:

    GTC    LeSaffre/Faulkner/Wong          Green Hornet Porsche          40 laps

Disqualified:

    P2     Plowman/Heinemeier Hansson/Lux  Conquest Morgan-Nissan

* Not running at the end

That is all from Petit Le Mans 2012 @ Road Atlanta, thank you all for looking.  Hopefully we can cover more motorsport events like this in the future.

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