MICHELIN WINS INAUGURAL PETIT LE MANS AT ROAD ATLANTA Adds Petit Le Mans to Sebring, Le Mans And Daytona Victories
(BRASELTON, GA) --- The Michelin-equipped Champion Porsche 911GT1 with drivers Thierry Boutsen of Belgium, Bob Wollek of France and Ralf Kelleners of Germany captured the GT1 class victory in the premier Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on Saturday. It is the 12th consecutive North American GT1 victory for Michelin Pilot racing radials and the second at Road Atlanta for Champion Porsche this season.
"Winning in GT1 at the Petit Le Mans, combined with our race victories at Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans, proves the durability and endurance of our Michelin Pilots," said Herb Johnson, Director of Motorsports, Michelin North America. "The Champion Porsche team did a great job and the Michelins were flawless all day on the demanding Road Atlanta course."
The Michelin-equipped No. 4 Panoz driven by Andy Wallace of France, David Brabham of Australia and Scott Pruett of Granite Bay, Calif. was the overall race leader with just over 90 minutes to go when it was sidelined by engine failure. The car finished second in GT1.
"Sparky," the Michelin-equipped Panoz Hybrid car, driven by Doc Bundy of Gainesville, Ga., John Nielsen of Denmark and Christophe Tinseau of France, finished third in GT1 in its first-ever race.
The Le Mans winning, Michelin-fitted Porsche 911GT1-98 driven by 1998 Le Mans and Daytona winner, Allan McNish of Scotland, Uwe Alzen of Germany and Yannick Dalmas of France led from the pole and dominated the race for over five hours before a spectacular wreck in the sixth hour. After losing downforce, the car flipped completely and wrecked hard coming off turn eight. Driver Dalmas was uninjured. The car finished fourth in GT1.
McNish, driving the No. 26 Michelin Pilot-equipped Porsche 911GT1 98, captured the overall and GT1 pole with a time of 1 minute 13.754 seconds, which equals 124.95 mph around the 12-turn, 2.56-mile road course. Boutsen qualified second in GT1 with a time of 1 minute 16.322 seconds, which equals 120.75 mph in the No. 38 Champion Porsche. Pruett qualified the No. 4 Panoz third in GT1 with a time of 1 minute 16.95 seconds, which equals 119.76 mph. Nielsen, piloting the No. 07 Panoz Q9 Hybrid, qualified with a time of 1 minute 18:415 seconds, which equals 117.52 mph, good for the fourth starting spot in GT1. Johnny O'Connell was uninjured when the No. 5 Panoz GTR-1 was heavily damaged in qualifying when it slid into the front straight wall after hitting oil in turn 12. The car could not be repaired for the race.
Michelin began the season by claiming the GT1 class victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona with the Rohr Motorsports Porsche 911 GT1. Panoz Motorsports drivers Wallace and Brabham led a Michelin sweep of GT1 at Sebring. The Champion Porsche finished in the runner up position, followed by a second Panoz entry. Panoz also has victories at Las Vegas, Homestead, Lime Rock Park, Mid-Ohio, Minneapolis, Mosport and the overall and GT1 victory at the Sebring Fall Festival. Champion Porsche won at Road Atlanta and Watkins Glen.
Michelin scored dual victories at Le Mans in June. The Michelin-equipped Porsche GT1-98, piloted by McNish, Laurent Aiello and Stepane Ortelli, both of France, claimed the GT1 and overall victory in the world's most prestigious endurance race. The Michelin-fitted Dodge Viper GTS-R driven by American David Donohue, Justin Bell of Britain and Luca Drudi of Italy were the victors in GT2. Michelin supported cars finished second in both GT1 and in GT2.
In addition to its activity in GT racing this year, Michelin North America is also supplying tires for the Barber Dodge Pro Series. Jeff Simmons gained ground on points leader Todd Snyder by beating Snyder to the checkered flag in Saturday's Barber Dodge contest at Road Atlanta.