California-based Ecuadorian racer Elton Julian heads to Road Atlanta this week as part of Green Earth Team Gunnar's effort to lift the inaugural Le Mans Prototype Challenge class crown at the final round of this year's American Le Mans Series. The traditional Petit Le Mans season closer will be contested by a healthy entry of 45 cars over the shorter of 1,000 miles or 10 hours.
The bright green No. 99 LMPC machine sponsored by G-Oil is riding a hot streak of three wins from the last four ALMS races at Lime Rock, Mid-Ohio, Road America and Mosport which has propelled the team and driver Gunnar Jeannette into a tie for the championship points lead with the two-car entry fielded by Level 5 Motorsports.
Julian has performed superbly as Jeannette's teammate throughout 2010, missing only the Utah round in May, and himself arrives in Georgia holding third in the series standings. Highlights of GETG's second half of the season include Elton's run from last to first in blistering heat at Lime Rock, Gunnar's storming drive back to third after his spin at Mid-Ohio, victory at Road America where chief engineer Mark Schomann's brilliant race strategy made up for the car's mysterious lack of pace, and the team's success in engineering the chassis back to the front of the LMPC field at Mosport.
For the Petit Le Mans enduro, Julian and Jeannette will be rejoined by Christian Zugel, who contributed to GETG's early season podium finishes at Sebring and Laguna Seca before finding a berth at Genoa Racing for the last four races. The team will also benefit from its first engine rebuild of the year, deferred until now thanks to the performance and protection advantages of its G-Oil engine lubricant.
For the 36-year-old Julian – the youngest-ever British Formula 3 race winner, one-time Formula 1 test driver, and unofficial Le Mans 24 Hours rookie of the year in 2005 – this season has marked the high point of his career.
“This is the closest I've come to a full season since Formula 3000 in 1996, and to find such success with such a great team after a four-year layoff wasn't anywhere on my radar going into 2010,” said Julian. “Thanks to our results, I've got some exciting opportunities in both prototypes and GTs for next season, some involving factory teams and some involving Europe, and, of course, Team Gunnar is in the mix as well. But first I want to help Gunnar and the team take the LMPC championships at Petit.”