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2010 Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta – American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón – 1,000 miles / 10 hours max – Championship race

Written by  D Brian Smith

Peugeot won the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta for the second time and achieved victory by a margin of 61 seconds. This time the team was able to win it by racing the full 1,000 miles.

Photo credit: Courtesy of ALMS. Post production by RedlineReview.com

This year the victory could not have been more satisfying for Team Peugeot Total, as they made the doubters true believers in their racing and racecar building abilities. Peugeot’s three race drivers for the #08 car, Franck Montagny, Stephane Sarrazin and Pedro Lamy were able to take 1st. Total’s sister car, the #07 entry, piloted by Messrs. Davidson, Gene and Wurz, claimed 2nd.

2010 Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta – American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón – 1,000 miles / 10 hours max – Championship race

By D. Brian Smith

Photography: D. Brian Smith & Courtesy of ALMS

The 13th running of the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta proved to be a lucky happenstance for Team Peugeot Total. For the second year in a row the two-car Peugeot Team captured 1st and 2nd place. Franck Montagny, Stephane Sarrazin and Pedro Lamy drove the #08 diesel-powered Peugeot 908 HDi-FAP racecar to the checkered flag, after a tad more than nine hours elapsed time. The #07 Peugeot 908 entry, piloted by Messrs. Marc Gene, Alexander Wurz and Anthony Davidson, crossed in second.

Early in the 10-hour contest, we caught the #9 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R15 TDi racecar hoovering up turn #1 and leaving its competition in its wake. For goodness sake, these Auto Union descendents are as glorious as the V12 and V16 Grand Prix racecars that the German Auto Union produced in the 1930s.

These two cars and their drivers were so evenly matched; the second place #07 Peugeot finished the race a scant 60 seconds after the #08 machine. During the race of attrition the two friendly foes actually touched each other, lending credence to the NASCAR movie Days of Thunder line, delivered by actor Robert Duvall, who played team chief Harry Hogge. Duvall said to Tom Cruise, playing Cole Trickle in the flick, “And rubbin’, son, is racin’.” Apparently, not just stock car racing has that sort of fender-to-fender mayhem. It sure is a good thing these drivers know what they’re doing.

Last year, the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta ended a bit more than halfway though the 10-hour race. Team Peugeot Total won the first two places by default, capturing the checkered flag whilst the red flag flew due to an extended downpour of rain. For the first time ever, the Petit Le Mans had to be called because of the incessant rain, which made it unsafe and thereby impossible for the teams to re-start the contest and finish under power.

Winning for a second time in a row was that much more satisfying, given the fact that Team Peugeot Total could quiet all the critics who said they won in ’09 thanks in part to some very wet help from Mother Nature. The weather conditions for 2010’s contest were spot-on perfect, with temperatures ranging in the 60s and 70s Fahrenheit and low humidity the entire race. The two Team Peugeot Total teams and the #7 Audi Sport Team Joest entries were closely matched and waged fender-to-fender warfare most of the race. Team strategies and the challenging traffic of a 44-car field made for many lead changes throughout the day. Added to that, there were nine caution flags from driver offs and collisions to contend with during the campaign, which made the strategy of leading, chasing and making pit stops at the best times, that much more daunting.

As Peugeot #08 and Audi #7 were going at it coming up on hour seven of the race, the Audi had to make an unscheduled pit stop. This gave the two Team Peugeot Total entries the lead for the duration of the event. Stephane Sarrazin drove through the finish line for the checkered in #08, whilst British teammate Anthony Davidson, just 60 seconds behind in the #07 diesel Peugeot took second. This was Sarrazin and Montagny’s second victory in the Petit Le Mans and a two-peat, which was a very sweet ending for Team Peugeot Total and indeed for France, the country that produces the premier endurance race – the granddaddy to the Petit Le Mans – none other than the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Thanks to the good graces of Mother Nature and some spectacular driving by the racers in all 44 cars, the 2010 Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta was everything the ’09 contest couldn’t be. And for Team Peugeot Total, capturing victory after 1,000 miles instead of millions of raindrops and sitting in the paddock, erased any doubts that the two Peugeot entries could best the highly regarded Audi Sport Joest Team cars. Redline Review can’t wait to see what will happen in 2011 for the ALMS. By all accounts, the American Le Mans Series is healthier than ever. Congratulations to all the teams and drivers!

Good preparation back at the shop, in the paddock and in the pit box gives the team drivers’ their best chance for tasting victory. RR was impressed with how expert the Rizi Competizione Boardwalk Ferrari technicians prepared the #61 and #62 Ferrari 430GT GT2 classification racecars. The mechanics seemed to love their jobs, too. Wouldn’t you?

There’s nothing more exciting than witnessing the start of a race at the end of the front straight at ground level with a view of all the action through a 500 millimeter zoom lens.

We can’t decide whether we like the digi-art version of the #9 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R15 TDi racecar or the normal exposure of the Audi above. Which do you prefer?

The Team Peugeot Total #8 car may be behind a couple of Porsches at this moment, but the Teutonic coupes are about to be lapped, as #8 came first at the culmination of the 10-hour Petit Le Mans contest.

Redline Review was at Road Atlanta Thursday night capturing the Audi Sport Team during practice in pit lane making adjustments to the TDI powered ALMS P1 German race car. Catch more great action and the full story this weekend on RedlineReview.COM, where It’s All About Speed!

During Thursday afternoon’s practice session, we captured some racing action that looked more like the real thing than just practice. What did NBA basketball star Allen Iverson say about practice? These racers certainly take practice seriously, unlike Mr. Iverson.

The Risi Competizione Boardwalk Ferrari #61 car looks as though we’ve cut and pasted it onto its background. In reality, all three of the drivers for #61: Fisichella, Melo and Salo, got it up on two wheels off the turn #3 speed berm throughout the 10-hour contest.

Dynapep Energy Drinks are one of Intersport Racing’s sponsors. These nice young ladies treated RR’s chief editor to a couple shots of their energy drink and a couple shots for the website. Thank you ladies!

The Petit Le Mans race started at 11:30 am sharp to a sea of brightly hued exotic racing machines that many liken to rolling, running works of art. You won’t get any argument from the staff of Redline Review, especially as digi-art.

Playing around with time lapse photography is one of the most enjoyable aspects of photographing an endurance race at night, as is readily apparent with the racecar zooming by the #55 Level 5 Motorsports Oreca FLM09 entry, which was in its pit box for a driver change during Thursday night’s practice session. Tucker, Bouchot and Wilkins pilot the Level 5 Motorsports machine.

The Intersport Racing Lola B06 10 AER #37, piloted by Jon Field and Clint Field, rolled strong on Dunlop Tires. A P1 class entry, the team started in 5th and finished in the same position.

In the GT2 class, Corvettes, Ford GTs, Ferrari F430s and Porsche 911s all race in the same class, which is how it should have been in the 1960s. Alas, Chevrolet and the Mothership, General Motors, didn’t officially race in the 1950s and 1960s. Although, several privateers managed to win many races with Corvettes in that era.

The Dyson Racing Lola B09 86-Mazda #16, raced by Messrs. Dyson, Smith and Meyrick, completed 192 laps and came in 37th place due to a gearbox failure.

Drivers Gene, Wurz and Davidson, raced the #07 diesel powered Team Peugeot Total entry to a commanding 2nd place finish.

Team Peugeot was definitely getting in the zone during the opening ceremonies, just minutes before the start of the 10-hour Petit Le Mans.

The Racers Group Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, driven by Andy Lally, Henri Richard and Duncan Ende won its class by 5.283 seconds over the Black Swan Porsche, which was the team’s second win of the year.

By the end of the race, the Risi Competizione Ferrari 430GT ran out of fuel with two turns to go, which permitted the #4 Corvette C6 R to get the win in the GT2 class. Oliver Gavin, Magnussen and Collard drove the Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 #4 machine.

During the opening ceremonies we spotted a most gregarious looking bloke and then realized we were looking at the world famous Michelin Man. Michelin, as it turns out, came first in the racing tire competition, for the ALMS racing season. Well done, Michelin Man!

There were also a couple of paratroopers, who glided down from the heavens, with Old Glory acting as a marvelous tail rudder, who landed moments before the start of the race.

David Murry, Rob Bell and Anthony Lazzaro, pilots of the #04 Robertson Racing Doran Design Ford GT, finished in 19th position overall and 4th in the GT2 class.

Mandatory during Thursday night’s practice session, each driver had to complete at least three laps during the night’s practice under darkness, to make sure all racers had some seat time while running under the cover of darkness with just headlights offering where the Road Atlanta racetrack leads. The carbon fiber bodywork of the #52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca FLM09 LMPC racer is more than strong enough to support the full weight of each racer, whether it’s R. Gonzalez, Mr. Diaz or Mr. Lewis standing on the body.

Another ALMS car seemingly travels by the #04 Robertson Racing Doran Design Ford GT entry at warp speed. The GT2 class Ford GT was piloted by Messrs. Murry, R. Bell and Lazzaro.

We could have stayed in the Falken Motorsports paddock area the entire time without getting used to the great smiles on the Falken Tire models.

The mechanics for Team Peugeot Total are to be commended for preparing their two racecars so well. The team finished in 1st and 2nd place overall at the 2010 Petit Le Mans.

Diesel powered Peugeots and diesel Audis battled all day long for victory. Like last year, Peugeot came out on top. Unlike last year, the race ran the entire 1,000 miles.

Mechanics for the #16 Dyson Racing Lola B09 86-Mazda P2 car, driven by Chris Dyson, Guy Smith and Andy Meyrick, worked hard to prepare the pristine P2 racecar for the 10-hour endurance race in the paddock on Friday.

By juxtaposing the motion of a Porsche GT2 car with the PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca FLM09 Le Mans Prototype car, you’d think that Porsche was speeding down pit lane. Perish the thought. The 911 was cruising about 10 mph at the time of this slow shutter speed photo.

Every race team, with the exception of Audi, granted Redline Review behind the scenes access in the paddock area. We especially appreciate the gracious hospitality from Intersport Racing. They permitted us to take as many photos as we wished while their talented technicians precisely prepared their LMP cars for racing on Saturday.

Backdraft Racing, manufacturers and distributors of finely crafted Cobra replica roadsters, displayed four beautiful roadsters for sale in the Vendor Village. The gentleman in the red jacket is none other than Bill Putman, one of BDR’s ace employees. The white roadster sold the first day of the event. At the far end, the Halloween inspired orange over black beauty, had the new Ford 302 fuel injected mill in its engine bay. How cool is that?

Robertson Racing fielded two superbly prepared Ford GTs. The #04 Doran Design Ford GT, raced by David Murry, Rob Bell and Anthony Lazarro, placed 19th overall and 4th in GT2. Notice the racers could fly the right front wheel off the turn #3 speed berm.

Leading out of the esses in this shot is the Green Earth Team Gunnar #99 Oreca FLM09 Le Mans Prototype class car followed closely by the Genoa Racing #36 Oreca. Frankie Montecalvo, Eric Lux and Alex Figge drove the #36 Oreca LMPC car, while Gunnar Jeannette, Christian Zugel and Elton Julian raced the Green Earth Team Gunnar machine.

Fittingly, the Porsche Motorsports North America Porsche 911 GT3R Hybrid racecar, wore the #911. Romain Dumas, Mike Rockenfeller and Timo Bernhard piloted the Hybrid to an impressive 18th place finish overall and 3rd in the GT Hybrid class. One can discern by the pristine paint and bodywork that it was early in the race, when RR took the photo.

Digi-art makes the #8 Team Peugeot Total diesel powered Peugeot 908 HDi-FAP P1 Petit Le Mans 2010 winning racecar appear even better than it does in real life. And, if you’ve seen this baby up close and personal as we have, you’d know that’s saying something!

Oliver Gavin, Yardley Hastings, Emmanuel Collard, Jan Magnussen finished 10th overall and 10th in the GT2 class, after starting the race in 21st position. Of course, they race the #4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, which is also known as the Corvette C6R.

In the spotter’s guide, the Drayson Racing Lola B09 60-Judd looks rather stodgy from the side view. In real life, they appear faster than the synapses that fire in our nervous systems. Drivers Jonny Cocker, Guisborough, Emanuele Pirro, Monte and Paul Drayson finished in 8th position overall and in the P1 class, after starting 39th. Well done, gentlemen and team Drayson Racing!

Messrs. Andy Lally, from New York, NY; Duncan Ende, resident of Los Angeles, CA; and Henri Richard, from Los Altos Hills, CA raced the #63 The Racers Group Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car to 22nd place overall and 1st place in the GT class.

After going through our photos, we learned that the Alex Job Racing/Battery Tender/Tequilla Patron Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car being closely pursued in the turns. Those bad to the bone LMPC beasts won’t be pursuing #23 for long.

Care to take a guess on why there are several photos of the #63 The Racers Group Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car that came in 1st place in the GT class? We liked the integrated circuit board themed paint scheme. Also, blue’s a pretty spectacular color.

We got a great view of the #37 Intersport Racing Lola B06 10 AER machine slithering through the esses. Piloted by Jon Field, of Dublin, OH; Clint Field, also from Dublin, OH; and Ben Devlin, from Jolly Old England, the #37 Lola started in 5th place and also finished in 5th position.

Car #54 where are you? Older race fans and TV watchers will get that first line. The #54 Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup GT class car, driven by Jeroen Bleekemolen, of Monte Carlo, Monaco; Sebastiaan Bleekemolen, from Haarlem; and Tim Pappas, of Boston, MA came in 23rd place overall and in 2nd position in the GT class.

By looking at all the oil and debris on the front of the #6 Muscle Milk Team Cytosport Porsche RS Spyder P2 class racer, one might guess the end of the race is drawing near. Less than two hours remained, when RR took this photo. Team co-pilots Klaus Graf, from Germany; Lucas Luhr, of Monte Carlo; Sascha Maassen, from Lontzen started the Petit in 7th position and finished in 7th.

Led by the Alex Job Racing/Tequilla Patron/Battery Tender #23 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, a train of Porsches negotiated the esses by following the Alex Job Racing 911’s racing line.

All the Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R15 TDi drivers were in good spirits for Friday’s autograph session.

Though the two Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R15 TDi entries are strong runners, they couldn’t best the two Team Peugeot Total cars. After starting the 10-hour Petit Le Mans endurance race in 3rd position the driving team for the #9 Audi, of Marcel Fassler, from Gross, Germany; Andre Lotterer, of Duisburg, Germany; and Benoit Treluyer, from Alencon, Germany, finished the race in 9th place. Early on in the contest, the team had an unfortunate off-track excursion, which set them back.

Mere milliseconds after this image was taken, the Team Peugeot Total Peugeot 908 HDi-FAP and the Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R15 TDi overtook the #911 Porsche Motorsports North America Porsche 911 GT3R Hybrid, which is in an entirely different race class than the bad boy Le Mans Prototype entries.

Delicious digi-art and some ALMS entries, including an Extreme Speed/Tequilla Patron Ferrari F430GT and a Jaguar RSR Team Jaguar XKRS, makes Redline Review excited. How about you?

Last year, racer Scott Sharp drove a Tequilla Patron LMPC car and had a terrible accident in practice, which necessitated shipping in another race chassis and rebuilding his car. This year, Scott piloted an Extreme Speed/Tequilla Patron Ferrari F430GT to 11th place overall, with the help of his co-drivers, of course.

Speaking of Scott Sharp’s Extreme Speed/Tequilla Patron Ferrari F430GT co-drivers, here are all the racers – Johannes van Overbeek, of San Francisco, CA; and Dominik Farnbacher, from Ansbach.

Just like in ’09, Team Peugeot Total fielded two diesel powered Peugeot 908 HDI FAPs. Also like last year, the team placed 1st and 2nd overall. The #07 car came in 2nd.

These three racers – Pedro Lamy, of Lisbon, Portugal; Franck Montagny, Grandvaux, France; and Stephane Sarrazin, of Ales, France drove the #08 Team Peugeot Total Peugeot 908 HDI FAP to 1st place overall. That’s Pedro Lamy smiling at Redline Review. You can tell he digs our racing articles and photography.

Team Peugeot Total, with the #07 Peugeot Peugeot 908 HDI FAP, piloted by these three gentlemen – Marc Gene, of Barcelona, Spain; Alexander Wurz, of Monte Carlo; and Anthony Davidson, of Brackley, Northamptonshire, England, came in 2nd. Vive la France! Vive Team Peugeot Total!

Redline Review had carte blanche in the Level 5 Motorsports/Boardwalk Ferrari paddock for shooting images. The #95 Oreca FLM09 Le Mans Prototype class entry, driven by Marco Werner, from Kreuzlingen; Burt Frisselle, of Aspen, CO; and Scott Tucker, of Leawood, KS, finished in 16th, after starting in 15th position.

The traveling gnome was a fan’s mascot, while the stuffed animals are good luck charms for the #35 Oak Racing/Team Mazda France Pescarolo P01-Judd. The lucky charms worked, as the team finished 3rd in the P2 class and 9th overall.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the #92 BMW Rahal Letterman BMW E92 M3, which started in 25th position and finished lucky 13th overall and 13th in the GT2 class. Bill Auberlen, of Redondo Beach, CA; Tommy Milner, from Leesburg, VA; and Dirk Werner, from Kissenbrück, Deutschland drove with American abandon and German precision.

Robertson Racing, with the team’s tasty #40 Doran Design Ford GT entry, piloted by Craig Stanton,  of Long Beach, CA; Andrea Robertson, of Ray, MI; and David Robertson, also from Ray, MI, gave Redline Review full access in the paddock for taking photos. Apparently, our impeccable reputation precedes us.

What do you think would happen, if the original Ford GT40 MkII that swept the field to win the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans were to take on a new Ford GT, like the Robertson Racing Doran Design Ford GT? We’d love to find out. Wouldn’t you?

Tell us true auto racing and American Le Mans Series fans; do you prefer standard exposed action photography, High Dynamic Range shots or digi-art? At Redline Review, where It’s All About Speed, we have all three. The choice is yours.

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