Rebellion Racing entered the history books as the last-ever overall winner in the American Le Mans Series, as Nick Heidfeld, Neel Jani and Nicolas Prost claimed victory in the 2013 Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
The trio cruised to victory after erstwhile race leader Pickett Racing was forced to retire with an irreparable overheating issue shortly after half-distance.
The Muscle Milk Pickett HPD had a one-lap advantage over its Swiss rivals before their misfortune, due in part to Jani serving a stop-go penalty after hitting the PR1 Mathiasen LMPC entry in the first hour.
With this year's LMP1 champions out of the picture, Rebellion was faultless in claiming its second consecutive Petit victory by a comfortable seven-lap margin.
“The beginning was not easy at all, it was dry, wet, dry, but wet enough so had to keep the slicks,” Jani said. “It was kind of a gamble on the tires. It was a bit of a question what do you risk. I tried not to burn out the tires, but the rain never came so we switched back.”
The No. 551 Level 5 HPD finished second overall when it claimed LMP2 honors in the hands of Ryan Briscoe, Marino Franchitti and team owner Scott Tucker. They were embroiled in a race-long duel with the No. 01 Extreme Speed HPD, the outcome of which was only decided in the final hour when series returnee David Brabham experienced a delayed final pit stop and fell to second in class.
“All of them have been hard, and today it came down to the last race – and we had to win,” Tucker said. “Fortunately, it all worked out. Extreme Speed Motorsports gave us really tough competition, and it could have gone either way.”
The sister Level 5 car of Guy Cosmo and experienced HPD drivers Jonny Kane and Peter Dumbreck finished third in LMP2, a position they had maintained throughout the majority of the race.
BAR1 Motorsport took LMPC victory in their No. 8 entry after a determined drive by Kyle Marcelli, who finally found a way past ALMS debutant Oswaldo Negri with just over two hours left on the clock.
The victory enabled Cumming to take the driver's title by one point over Guasch, 141-140, while BAR1 Motorsports took the team title in a tie-breaker over CORE autosport (145-145, three victories to two). CORE finished third in the finale with Jon Bennett, Tom Kimber-Smith and Colin Braun in the No. 05 Composite Resources ORECA FLM09.
FALKEN RECOVERS TO GT TRIUMPH
Nicky Tandy, Wolf Henzler and Bryan Sellers took the GT spoils in what was an ultra-competitive field, and the class lead changed on almost lap-by-lap basis during the first-half of the race.
The order looked to have settled down seven hours in, with the Risi Ferrari squad enjoying a 15-second lead, before Olivier Beretta tried to pass a GTC competitor around the outside of Turn 6, but too much momentum sent him careening into a wall. He lost 25 seconds and a door mirror and was forced to pit for repairs, dropping him down to fourth in class a result.
This promoted Tandy to first in class, a fantastic turnaround after he had fought just to stay on the lead lap at one point, but swift pit stops and timely caution periods allowed the Falken Porsche to rise up the order. The Briton held his lead until the end, overcoming a brief headlight issue after darkness descended and fending off Dirk Muller in the No. 56 BMW RLL when racing resumed with 10 laps remaining after a late caution period.
The No. 45 Flying Lizards Porsche traded GTC class pole for victory after an intense three-car battle and it looked like Damien Faulkner would claim second, but the TRG Porsche came to a halt on the exit of Turn 2 with 15 laps remaining to bring out the final full-course caution. His misfortune was the Dempsey team's gain, which showed good pace when three-time Grand-Am champion Andy Lally took control of the Porsche 911, and finished second, ahead of JDX Racing.
A sixth-place finish for Garcia and Magnussen in the No. 3 Corvette C6 ZR1 co-driven by Jordan Taylor was good enough to capture the GT drivers' title, winning by six points over Muller (135-129).
“For sure this is a great day for us. We had a fantastic season," enthused Garcia. "There is no way we could think about this after no points at Sebring. The Corvette Racing team just kept digging. We went from zero wins last year to three wins this year. It was a very competitive year, and congratulations to all our competitors who raced against us. They were all very good teams. So I am very happy for my first ALMS title. Now we are looking forward to the next era for Corvette Racing.
“It's a really hard to celebrate anything. I lost a very close friend last week – Maria De Villota – and then Sean Edwards this week. Even when I went by the checkered flag, I didn't feel like I could celebrate and be happy. I was more thinking about them.”
Pos Cl Drivers Team/Car Time/Gap
1. P1 Heidfeld/Jani/Prost Rebellion Lola-Toyota 394 laps
2. P2 Tucker/Briscoe/Franchitti Level 5 HPD -6 laps
3. P2 Sharp/Lazzaro/Brabham Extreme Speed HPD -6 laps
4. P2 Cosmo/Kane/Dumbreck Level 5 HPD -7 laps
5. PC Marcelli/Cumming/Johansson BAR1 FLM -14 laps
6. PC Rayhall/Negri 8Star FLM -14 laps
7. PC Bennett/Kimber-Smith/Wilkins CORE FLM -17 laps
8. GT Henzler/Sellers/Tandy Falken Porsche -19 laps
9. GT Muller/Edwards/Auberlen RLL BMW -19 laps
10. GT Beretta/Malucelli/Liddell Risi Ferrari -19 laps
11. P1 Dyson/Burgess/McMurry Dyson-Lola -20 laps
12. GT Alzen/Martin/Muller RLL BMW -20 laps
13. GT Bomarito/Wittmer/Kendall SRT Viper -21 laps
14. GT Magnussen/Garcia/Taylor Corvette -21 laps
15. GT Farnbacher/Goossens/Dalziel SRT Viper -22 laps
16. GT Long/Braun/Christensen CORE Porsche -22 laps
17. P2 Brown/van Overbeek/Bell Extreme Speed HPD -25 laps
18. GT Sweedler/Keen/Mowlem Ferrari F458 Italia -25 laps
19. GT Gavin/Milner/Westbrook Corvette -25 laps
20. PC Drissi/Mitchell/French BAR1 FLM -29 laps
21. PC Guasch/Cheng/Cameron PR1 Mathiasen FLM -35 laps
22. GTC Canache Jr/Pumpelly/Snow Flying Lizard Porsche -37 laps
23. GTC Dempsey/Lally/Foster Dempsey Del Piero Porsche -37 laps
24. GTC Hedlund/Heylen/Fogarty JDX Porsche -37 laps
25. GTC MacNeil/Bleekemolen/Bleekemolen Alex Job Porsche -38 laps
26. GTC Neiman/von Moltke/Sandberg Flying Lizard Porsche -50 laps
27. GTC Keating/Faulkner/Stanton TRG Porsche -55 laps*
28. GTC Armindo/Nielsen/Benitez Jr NGT Porsche -55 laps
29. PC Junqueira/Ende/Menezes ORECA FLM -99 laps
* Not running at finish
GTC Putman/Espenlaub/Law Dempsey Del Piero Porsche 277 laps
P1 Meyrick/Legge DeltaWing 209 laps
P1 Graf/Luhr/Dumas Pickett HPD 200 laps
PC Nunez/Shears Performance Tech FLM 121 laps
GT Miller/Holzer/Collard Miller Porsche 76 laps