Rebellion Racing, Level 5 Motorsports, BAR1 Motorsports, Team Falken Tire and Flying Lizards Motorsports have the honour of going down in history as the last class winners of an American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race after 16 years of competition ended at Saturday’s Petit Le Mans.
Starting in P1, as that ended up being the least interesting, saw WEC regulars Rebellion Racing taking their Lola-Toyota driven by Neel Jani, Nick Heidfeld and Nicolas Prost to their second Petit Le Mans win in what will be the last race in North America for LMP1 machinery for the foreseeable future.
The P1 battle could have been so much better had the Muscle Milk Pickett Racing car not had to retire with overheating issues whilst in the lead with Roman Dumas behind the wheel. The fault – which could not be found on pit lane or in the paddock – proved too much for the team and Lucas Luhr‘s quest to gain a half century of ALMS wins was tantalisingly close for the German who now finishes his ALMS career with 49 wins.
The Deltawing also suffered a run of bad luck, retiring due to steering issues, whilst the Dyson Racing Lola-Mazda finished second in class but only eleventh overall.
The big news in P2 is that Scott Tucker has claimed the drivers championship in the class thanks to Ryan Briscoe‘s stunning drive in the #551 edging out David Brabham in the #01 Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD by less than two seconds after a ten hour race. The result means Tucker won the class by only six points from Scott Sharp, with Marino Franchitti only two points behind Sharp.
In LMPC, it was BAR1 who claimed their third consecutive class win, but it wasn’t enough to stop CORE Autosport gaining the teams title. after finishing third.
There was confusion in the points however, as scores had to be adjusted thanks to the 8Star Motorsports car, which finished second thanks to outstanding driving by Shaun Rayhall and Oswaldo Negri, not gaining teams points due to it’s one off entry. That meant CORE finished third but scored the points meant for second place.
It also confused the drivers standings in which Mike Guasch, who finished fifth, gaining points as if he finished fourth. That allowed him to become the PC driver’s champion for 2013.
Into GT and a true underdog performance by Team Falken Tire saw the Porschenstein – driven by Nick Tandy, Wolf Henzler and Bryan Sellers – beat off hard charging Corvettes and BMWs to take their first win of the season. Indeed as a side note, the longer endurance races seems to have suited the team as their best result of the season before Petit was a third place finish at Sebring in March.
Close behind them was the #56 BMW of Dirk Muller, John Edwards and Bill Auberlen, but the result wasn’t good enough to get Muller the driver’s championship, instead that went to Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia in Corvette Racing‘s #3 which eventually finished in sixth place.
A good result was also had by the Risi Ferrari which finished in third place thanks to strong stints by Matteo Malucelli, Olivier Beretta and Robin Liddell.
One team that got a less than expected result but still claimed the championship was the WeatherTech/Alex Job Racing car of Jeroen Bleekemolen, Cooper MacNeil and Sebastiaan Bleekemolen. Finishing fourth was enough for the Dutch maestro and regular co-driver MacNeil to claim the driver’s championship even after the #45 Flying Lizard car took the win from a hard charging Dempsey racing car who – at the hands of Andy Lally, Patrick Dempsey and Joe Foster – took what must be one of their best results of the season.
Indeed the team might not have got that win had Damien Faulkner not have had to park the TRG car at the bottom of the Esses with under an hour to go. The resulting safety car meant the remaining GTC cars had a 10 lap shoot out to decide who would make it onto the podium.
With the flag falling came an end to the 149th round of the ALMS with all but two held in America (both Donington Park and Jarama were rounds of the European Le Mans Series which had points counting towards the ALMS). Keep an on 2014 where ww.theCheckeredFlag.co.uk will keep up to date with all of the rounds of the TUDOR United Sports Car Championship as the new series begins at Daytona for the Rolex 24 on January 25th and, 26th.