Audi earned a classic one-two in the third running of Road Atlanta's Petit Le Mans, but it did not come without a huge fight. The 1000 mile event kept race fans on their feet with cars on fire, roll-overs, on-track clashes, dramatic crashes and...
Audi earned a classic one-two in the third running of Road Atlanta's Petit Le Mans, but it did not come without a huge fight.
The 1000 mile event kept race fans on their feet with cars on fire, roll-overs, on-track clashes, dramatic crashes and even America's wildlife joining in with a deer running across the track in front of on-coming traffic.
The race was won by Allan McNish, Rinaldo Capello and Michele Alboreto with Audi team-mates Emanuele Pirro, Frank Biela and Tom Kristensen taking second.
The Panoz duo of David Brabham and Jan Magnussen were unlucky not to do better than third. Magnussen was forced off the track after an early safety car period, causing damage to the front suspension and hindering their pace.
Brabham also lost a lap after being mistakenly waved on by the safety car during another caution period and Magnussen's final attack to get past Biela was hindered when the Dane was held up for several laps by Capello who was actually several laps ahead. After finally getting past, Magnussen was only .5 of a second behind the Audi at the finish.
The win by McNish, Capello and Alboreto was due reward after failing to win at the Le Mans 24 Hour and Sebring 12 Hour events earlier this year.
"It was a very long and hard race and it was one that kept everyone biting their nails right until the flag dropped after 9 and 1/2 hours," McNish said.
"It's nice to win this one after missing out at a couple of the other big races."
The victory also placed McNish into the championship lead after Jorg Muller's efforts aboard the BMW were blunted by a late race spin and crash which forced his team to replace the rear wing.
The other BMW also endured shocking luck after a dramatic roll-over with Bill Auberlen at the wheel.
While pleased to reach the podium, Brabham was disappointed that the Panoz team could not defend their 1999 victory.
"Jan was unlucky to be forced wide which damaged the car, but we never gave up right to the finish. Last year we had a bit of luck but things didn't fall our way this year," Brabham said.
The GTS fight was a classic Corvette vs. Viper battle with the Chevrolet of Andy Pilgrim, Kelly Collins and Franck Freon pulling off a pass to win with only minutes remaining.
Bob Wollek and Sascha Maassen won the GT battle aboard their Porsche while the Australian Skea Racing team endured major misfortune with one car forced off the road and into a tyre barrier and the second car forced out after hitting debris from Bill Auberlen's crash.
<pre> RESULT - PROTOTYPE DIVISION 1. - Allan McNish/Rinaldo Capello/Michele Alboreto - Audi - 394 laps 2. - Emanuele Pirro/Frank Biela/Tom Kristensen - Audi - 391 laps 3. - David Brabham/Jan Magnussen - Panoz - 391 laps 4. - Johnny O'Connell/Hiroki Katoh/Klaus Graf - Panoz - 389 laps 5. - JJ Lehto/Jorg Muller - BMW - 383 laps GTS DIVISION 1. - Andy Pilgrim/Kelly Collins/Franck Freon - Chevrolet Corvette - 358 laps GT DIVISION 1. - Bob Wollek/Sascha Maassen - Porsche GT3-R - 343 laps
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