BRASELTON, Ga. (Oct. 19, 2013) – Team Falken Tire took a dramatic GT class victory in Saturday’s 16th Petit Le Mans Powered By Mazda at Road Atlanta, while Corvette Racing’s Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia took the drivers’ title with a sixth-place finish in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón finale.
Nick Tandy, Bryan Sellers and Wolf Henzler took their first triumph of the final season for the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón in the No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The winning vehicle was a show car until it was pressed into service last month after an opening-lap incident in the Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT damaged the team’s primary car beyond repair.
The class featured drama all the way to the checkered flag. Tandy nearly lost control following the final restart with 11 laps remaining when he clipped a curb, but he recovered and held on to win by 0.741-of-a-second over Dirk Muller in the No. 56 Team RLL Crowne Plaza BMW Z4 GTE co-driven by John Edwards and Bill Auberlen.
“It was clearly difficult winning a race in GT, especially when it’s a 10-hour race,” Sellers said. “It was all about resiliency. Nobody gave up and the guys were fantastic in the pits. It’s pretty special to be here in the last ALMS race and go down in the history books and be part of what is to be part of what is considered to be the best GT racing in the world.”
A sixth-place finish for Garcia and Magnussen in the No. 3 Compuware 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).
“After not getting points at Sebring, we didn’t think getting the championship was possible,” Garcia said. “But we kept fighting and it came together in the end.”
The competitive battle saw seven of the 11 competitors representing five manufacturers take turns in the GT lead. The No. 91 SRT/Rush Viper GTS-R of Marc Goossens, Dominik Farnbacher and Ryan Dalziel led 126 laps before losing ground after contact with a prototype, while the winning Porsche led 124.
Spencer Pumpelly won in GTC by 5.839 seconds over Andy Lally, but came up short in his bid for the title. Pumpelly co-drove the No. 45 Venezuela/eSilicon/UIS Porsche 911 GT3 Cup with Nelson Canache Jr., and Madison Snow for Flying Lizard Motorsports, while Lally shared the No. 27 dempseychallenge,org Porsche with Dempsey Racing teammates Joe Foster and Patrick Dempsey.
The victory gave Flying Lizard Motorsports the GTC team title by 12 points over Alex Job Racing (157-145). Alex Job teammates Jeroen Bleekemolen and Cooper MacNeil won the drivers’ title with a fourth-place finish in the No. 22 WeatherTech Porsche shared with Sebastiaan Bleekemolen, beating Pumpelly and Canache by six points (145-139).
“We won the last ever ALMS race and the last ever ALMS pole,” Pumpelly said. “We wanted to win the team and driver titles and a lot of races. We missed the drivers’ championship but won the team. It’s really easy coming to work with Flying Lizard. The guys are just phenomenal.”
Next year the ALMS will combine with the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series as the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The first scheduled activity for the unified series will be unofficial testing at Sebring International Raceway (Nov. 16-17) and Daytona International Speedway (Nov. 19-20), with the 2014 season opening with the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 25-26, 2014.