Peugeot Wins in ALMS Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta
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
Photo credit: Courtesy of ALMS. Post production by Ben Moment
This year the win 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.
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 earned 1st and 2nd place. Franck Montagny, Stephane Sarrazin and Pedro Lamy raced 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, finished in second.
These two cars and their drivers were so evenly matched; the second place #07 Peugeot finished the race a narrow 60 seconds after the #08 machine. During the race of attrition the two friendly competitors 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 are cognizant of what they’re doing.
Last year, the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta culminated 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 endless 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 rewarding, 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 competition 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 contested 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 race. 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 unplanned for pit stop. This gave the two Team Peugeot Total entries the lead for the length of the event. Stephane Sarrazin drove through the finish line for the checkered in #08, whilst British teammate Anthony Davidson, just 60 seconds after in the #07 diesel Peugeot took second. This was Sarrazin and Montagny’s second win in the Petit Le Mans and a two-peat, which was a very fantastic 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 billions 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 ensue in 2011 for the ALMS. By all accounts, the American Le Mans Series is healthier than ever. Best wishes to all the teams and drivers!
Peugeot won the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta for the second time and attained victory by a margin of 61 seconds. This time the team was able to win it by racing the full 1,000 miles.
Early in the 10-hour contest, we caught the #9 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R15 TDi racecar tearing 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.
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.
We could have stayed in the Falken Motorsports paddock area the full time without getting used to the great smiles on the Falken Tire models.