Porsche Sweeps Le Mans GT Class Poduim, Sixth Straight Class Win at French 24 Hour Race
ATLANTA -- June 13, 2004 --A Porsche 911 GT3 race car has now won the GT class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans every year since its introduction in 1999.
The latest version, the 911 GT3 RSR entry of White Lightning Racing/Petersen Motorsports lead a trio of Porsche's to the GT podium sweep at this, the 72nd running of the famous French race.
Co-driven by Sascha Maassen of Belgium, Jorg Bergmeister of Germany and Patrick Long of the United States, the White Lightning/Petersen Motorsport team lead from the pole, but was as low as fifth during the race do to a pair of broken cables and a spin.
"Obviously, we're really excited about winning our second 24 Hours of Le Mans," said Mike Petersen, team owner. "It's truly special to do it with our own team, with our own guys that we race with day in and day out during the American Le Mans Series. It wa sn't easy as we had our ups and downs, but in the end the team really pulled together and did what we had to do."
The class standings changed many times throughout the 24 hours, with teams battling through myriad of problems throughout the day and night. After being as low as seventh place in class, Orbit Racing/BAM! Motorsports was running in second place sixteen hou rs into the race when gearbox problems ended their bid for the class win. The car was co-driven by Leo Hindery, Marc Lieb and Mike Rockenfeller until it was parked.
"I'm sad for the whole team and everybody associated with us," said Peter Baron, BAM! team owner. "Everybody did their personal best and should be proud of their effort. As the sun comes up, you think most of that stuff is over and if it lasted 18 hours, i t's good to go the distance. Unfortunately, we were caught out by gearbox problems. I just feel bad about all the hard work everybody put in from the crew and drivers, to have it end like this ..."
Five laps behind the class winner, the Choroq Racing Team 911 GT3 RSR from Japan was co-driven by Haraku Kurosawa, Kazuyuki Nishizawa and Manabu Orido and came in second place.
Just one lap behind second place, the Freisinger Motorsports 911 GT3 RSR co-driven by Stephane Ortelli, Ralf Kelleners and Romain Dumas finished in third.
The other American GT Class entry from the Racer's Group finished in sixth place. Co-driving the 911 GT3 RS was Ian Donaldson, Gregor Fisken and Lars Nielsen.
"Unbelievable," said Kevin Buckler, team owner. "It just feels so good to plan something out for months and watch it be executed flawlessly. My hat is off to the drivers, the crew and the entire team. Steady, smart, no mistakes and perfect preparation-- I'm really proud."