LE MANS, France - June 17 - The #83 Seikel Porsche 911 GT3 RS of Gabrio Rosa, Fabio Babini and Luca Drudi overcame a damaged radiator and a late-race spin to hold off the #77 Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 RS of Romain Dumas, Gunnar Jeannette and Phillippe Haezebrouck for a two-minute victory in the GT class at the 69th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Not only did Rosa/Babini/Drudi - all Italian drivers and the 2000 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona winners - win the GT class, but they finished seventh overall, ahead of the GTS and Daytona-winning factory Corvettes, and ahead of the Cadillac LMP 900 prototype. The damaged radiator, a result of an off-course excursion at the 15-hour mark, was the only major incident for the Canadian-based Seikel Motorsports Porsche team.
Porsche took all eight GT finishing positions, winning at Le Mans for the seventh straight year, and marking the 50th year that Porsche has participated at Le Mans - more than any other manufacturer (Ferrari is second with 40 years). Porsche has started 6 60 cars in 308 classes, and won 47 percent of the time (Ferrari is second with 36 percent).
The German-prepared Freisinger Porsche led briefly during several parts of the event, with young Frenchman Romain Dumas, 23 years old, waging a classic battle against Seikel's fastest driver Fabio Babini. Dumas is a factory driver in Japan as well as driving for Forti in the European F3000 series.
"As we weren't even sure of starting the race, after our qualifying crash, to finish in seventh position overall is amazing. Of course, it's a bit disappointing to finish so close behind the class winner," said Dumas.
Third place went to the #75 Perspective Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RS, winning out ahead of the #80 Larbre Competition Porsche after a couple of hours of close fighting.
"It was a fantastic job from the team to rebuild the car," driver Michel Neugarten said. "This is a competent and professional team but, just as important, there is a pleasant atmosphere. For myself, I am just so happy. This was a crazy 24 Hours, it was really dangerous when the rain was coming down. I'm just so pleased we made it to the finish, and to have achieved the result we did."
The leading American Le Mans Series teams - the McKenna Porsches of Alex Job Racing and the White Lightning Porsche of Petersen Motorsports - did not make the trip to Le Mans so they can concentrate on preparation for the remainder of the ALMS season, which gets back underway July 21 at Sears Point, California.
<pre> 24 Hours of Le Mans - Final GT Class Standings
#83 Rosa/Bambini/Drudi Porsche 911 GT3 RS 270 Laps #77 Jeannette/Dumas/Haezebrouck Porsche 911 GT3 RS 269 laps #75 Perrier/Neugarten/Smith Porsche 911 GT3 RS 263 laps #80 Chereau/Gouselard/Dumez Porsche 911 GT3 RS 262 laps #72 Fukuyama/Yogo/Nishizawa Porsche 911 GT3 RS 261 laps #82 Burgess/Cohen-Olivar/Bagnall Porsche 911 GT3 RS 260 laps #76 Youles/Day/Warnock Porsche 911 GT3 RS 252 laps #74 Alphand/Ligonnet/Marques Porsche 911 GT3 RS 251 laps #79 Noel/Forgeois/Jodexnis Porsche 911 GT3 RS 182 laps
#70 Wagner/Rice/Mazzuoccola Callaway C12-R V8 Engine/overheating #71 Lingner/McAllister/Donovan Porsche 911 GT3 RS Crash