Elton Julian Shines in ALMS Debut at Petit Le Mans Maintaining the form displayed in his successful comeback at the Le Mans 24 Hours in June, Californian Elton Julian made an impressive American Le Mans Series debut at last weekend's Petit Le...
Elton Julian Shines in ALMS Debut at Petit Le Mans
Maintaining the form displayed in his successful comeback at the Le Mans 24 Hours in June, Californian Elton Julian made an impressive American Le Mans Series debut at last weekend's Petit Le Mans event at Road Atlanta. Sharing Team Barazi's Courage C65-AER with regular number one driver Phil Bennett of Britain and Denmark's Juan Barazi, Julian set the team's fastest race lap and briefly led the LMP2 class.
Track delays kept Julian from driving on the test day, but he soon got to grips with the Barazi machine in official practice, just outpacing Bennett in the final pre-qualifying session. A mighty lap by Bennett put the Courage eighth overall on the grid and third in LMP2. Elton started the race and benefitted from a first lap incident involving the top three LMP1 entries to hold down fourth overall and second in class in the early laps. Just behind him was Jeff Bucknum in Miracle Motorsports' similar car, and the pair fought an crowd-pleasing battle throughout their initial double stint. Julian ran third overall and led LMP2 for eight laps when the class-dominating Intersport Lola faltered in the pits with electrical gremlins. Along the way, Elton set the team's fastest race lap.
Sometime after the Courage's electronic instrument panel failed during car owner Barazi's two-hour stint, a stone holed a water radiator. With no temperature read-out, the resulting leak went undetected and near the end of Bennett's double stint the engine failed and the car was retired in the pits after 225 laps.
"Elton was new to the car, the team, and the series this weekend, but even with minimal testing he was quickly on the pace of the top teams and drivers in the LMP2 class," said Barazi. "Thanks to Elton and Phil, the Team Barazi car was the only one to put any real pressure on the winning LMP2 at Road Atlanta."
"I went into the race with less than 30 laps in the car, so I was taking it fairly easy early on," said Julian. "I'm sure Miracle was thinking the same way, so my battle with Bucknum was fun but not all-out. If we'd both made it to the end it would have gotten really exciting, but unfortunately our race turned out to be five-and-a-half hours instead of ten. Obviously I'm disappointed, but I think I put in a strong drive. I want to thank Juan and Phil again for having me in the team this weekend, along with Men's Health and Best Life, Create Media, Puma Motorsport, Impact Race Products, and The-Paddock.net for all their support."