Check RACER.com for updates throughout the day on Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, the season finales of the American Le Mans Series and European Le Mans Series.
EIGHT HOUR MARK – The overall leader has completed 328 laps and since the last update, the two ALMS prototype championships have been clinched.
Level 5 was first to the 70 percent mark in the No. 95 HPD ARX-03b, driven by Scott Tucker, Christophe Bouchut and Luis Diaz. Tucker and Bouchut have their second P2 class title in as many years, Tucker now his third straight ALMS title after also winning the PC class title in 2010. The team swapped which car Tucker and Bouchut drove for this race and nominated both drivers for points in the No. 95 rather than the sister No. 055.
Euphoria – or relief – meanwhile, erupted down at the far end near pit out as Muscle Milk Pickett Racing hit the 70 percent mark itself with its fellow HPD, the P1 HPD ARX-03a. After a runner-up finish in the championship last year and six wins this season, the team needed only to score points to secure the mark.
The P2 race, however, is still up for grabs between Level 5's No. 95 and Conquest's No. 37. The No. 055 Level 5 HPD incurred a penalty to which Dario Franchitti replied on Twitter, “Well, the ALMS officiating continues to baffle me....” The ELMS P2 battle falls between Thiriet and Murphy, third and fourth among all P2s.
GT is a three-horse race between the No. 3 Corvette, No. 01 Extreme Speed Ferrari and No. 55 RLL BMW, with Flying Lizard's No. 45 Porsche also in with a chance.
Fellow leaders are CORE autosport (Ryan Dalziel, PC), Imsa Performance Matmut (Nicolas Armindo, GTE AM) and NGT Motorsport (Mario Farnbacher, GTC).
SIX HOUR MARK – Rebellion's lead has stabilized, several laps clear of the remaining runners. Dyson's second Lola Mazda has run well in the hands of Tony Burgess, Mark Patterson and Chris McMurry, while both the lead Dyson car and Muscle Milk's HPD are in a race to hit the 70 percent threshold (277 laps) to score championship points.
The P2 battle has been a seesaw between ALMS regulars Conquest and Level 5, with them running ahead of the European Le Mans Series entrants from Murphy, Thiriet and OAK. As in P1, Level 5 needs only to hit the 70 percent mark with its No. 95 car, driven by Scott Tucker, Christophe Bouchut and Luis Diaz, to secure that class title. Conquest is seeking its third class win of the year with Martin Plowman, David Heinemeier Hansson and Eric Lux, new third driver this race.
It's been an impressive outing thus far from the Nissan DeltaWing. The car driven only by Gunnar Jeannette and Lucas Ordonez planned to initially double, then triple stint their sets of Michelins. The car ran as high as fourth and after Jeannette's opening time, has been consistently in the top 10 overall.
GT has largely been a three-horse race between the two Corvettes, which have nothing to play for other than securing second in the driver's championship for Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia this race, and the polesitting Extreme Speed Ferrari driven by Toni Vilander, Scott Sharp and Johannes van Overbeek. “JVO” said the 458 is getting roughly a stint and a half per set of tires, with Corvette's Tommy Milner saying they were getting similar tire mileage. Milner pitted right at the six-hour mark for an extended stop with a steering issue.
An accordion effect bottleneck caused both Dempsey Racing cars to hit each other; the No. 25 PC car hit the team's No. 27 P2 car, and that sent it behind the wall.
CORE autosport is now 1-2 in PC, Imsa Performance Matmut leads GTE Am and NGT Motorsport leads GTC at the six-hour mark.
JDX Racing led for a while in GTC with series debutante Sean Johnston, but the thrills turned to near chills with a left rear tire blowout on his most recent stint.
“The first stint was awesome but the second had more than I was looking for,” he admitted. “I was grateful to keep it off the wall but it was quite a ride.”
THREE HOUR MARK – Muscle Milk Pickett Racing's wounded HPD ARX-03a is back in the fight. Despite losing an hour and more than 40 laps, Klaus Graf took over the car from Lucas Luhr on a pit stop as it returned to the race in pursuit of the necessary 70 percent threshold of 277 laps (of 394 total).
The sister ALMS P1 cars from Dyson Racing have been off-and-on with luck, the No. 20 (Mark Patterson, Tony Burgess, Chris McMurry) running at a reduced pace and the lead No. 16 fighting what Rob Dyson termed a “minor electrical malady.” At three hours and three minutes, the No. 16 car was back behind the wall.
Up front, as the race surpasses three hours and the one-third mark of 131 laps, Rebellion has almost led entirely from the distance. The battle is behind it, with six of the eight P2 cars running in tandem behind.
All of Level 5, Conquest, Thiriet, OAK, Murphy and Dempsey's P2 cars have taken turns cycling among the podium positions as the class sees a dual championship battle between ALMS and ELMS runners. Dario Franchitti's taken the car from Marino in the No. 055 car, with Eric Lux now in Conquest's No. 37 after another impressive opening effort from David Heinemeier Hansson.
At the three-hour mark, Pierre Thiriet (Thiriet), Bertrand Baguette (OAK) and Warren Hughes (Murphy) have taken over the ELMS P2 cars while the Greaves Motorsport entry is circulating but more than 40 laps down.
As earlier, Extreme Speed's No. 01 Ferrari and the pair of Corvettes lead in GT, with the BMWs, Porsches and SRT Viper trailing. The top six or seven cars are running close enough to where they can continue to battle in the coming hours.
Other class leaders at the three hour mark: CORE autosport (Ryan Dalziel, PC), AF Corse (Pierguseppe Perazzini, GTE AM) and Alex Job Racing (Dion von Moltke, GTC).
ONE HOUR, 30 MINUTES – The first hour and 30 minutes and more than 60 laps of action are in the books at Petit Le Mans, and already a massive development has occurred in the ALMS P1 title battle.
Going to overtake Peter LeSaffre, driving the GTC class Green Hornet Racing Porsche, Muscle Milk Pickett Racing's Lucas Luhr dove to the inside in the esses. Luhr went onto the grass as LeSaffre took his line into the corner, with the resulting contact pitching Luhr into the wall. That caused the race's first yellow flag just past the one-hour mark.
The HPD ARX-03a was taken back on a flatbed to the pits and is in the process of being repaired. The car needs to complete 70 percent of the race (277 laps) to score championship points and clinch the title.
Luhr's reaction to ESPN TV was merely, “s---!” LeSaffre's co-driver Damien Faulkner, who won't get the chance to race the Green Hornet Porsche as it's now retired, said it looked like the front tire contacted the Porsche and that's what pitched the HPD into a spin.
That has taken it already out of the race battle with Rebellion Racing in its Lola B12/60 Toyota, Neel Jani driving from the start from pole. The pair of Dyson Racing Lola Mazdas are more than a lap behind.
In P2, Marino Franchitti has led mostly from the get-go in the Level 5 HPD ARX-03b, but that is not the car which co-driver Scott Tucker is nominated to score points in – that's the sister No. 95. Conquest's David Heinemeier Hansson has matched him on pace and runs second, ahead of a pair of the ELMS extra P2 entries from Murphy Prototypes and Thiriet Racing by TDS.
The Nissan DeltaWing has climbed into the top 10 from the rear of the grid, with competitive times at the head of the P2 runners in the hands of Gunnar Jeannette. Jeannette got down to a 1:14.976, roughly 2.1 seconds off his qualifying pace.
Extreme Speed Ferrari's Scott Sharp led GT from the get-go, and the sister car driven by Guy Cosmo climbed from last on the grid to fifth place by the end of the first stint.
Corvette has also figured into the equation, as has the No. 93 SRT Viper, although Marc Goossens had an on/off moment at Turn 1 that dropped him down the order.
At 90 minutes, other class leaders are CORE autosport (Colin Braun driving, PC), AF Corse (Marco Cioci, GTE AM) and JDX Racing (series debutante Sean Johnston, GTC).