--The #23 Alex Job Porsche scored its fifth win of the season and Timo Bernhard upped his points lead to 15 with only one event remaining as Bernhard/Bergmeister/Maassen scored a narrow victory over its team car to win this year's Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta--
BRASELTON, Georgia - September 25, 2004 - Defending ALMS GT co-champion Sascha Maassen, driving the #23 Alex Job Racing McKenna mail2web.com Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, took the lead with an hour remaining to secure the GT victory for co-drivers Timo Bernhard and Jorg Bergmeister to score a .3 of a second win at the seventh annual Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
The Romain Dumas/Marc Lieb/Wolf Henzler Alex Job Porsche was on the pole, and held the lead three separate times during the event, but Maassen outbraked Henzler late in the race to pass for the lead for good. Henzler, who won the Porsche Supercup championship (series runs with F1 events) this season, was running his first ALMS event.
For Timo Bernhard, the 26 points for first place put him on the brink of the 2004 GT drivers championship, as his nearest competitors, Darren Law and Johannes van Overbeek, driving the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche, were relegated to fifth place after Johannes was pushed off the track by a P1 racer. The car lost five laps to the leaders, and had to work hard to get back to fifth. Patrick Huisman from The Netherlands joined the Lizard effort for the event.
Bernhard now has a 15-point lead with 23 possible points available for a first place finish at the ALMS finale at Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway next month.
This is the third year in a row Alex Job Racing and Porsche have won the GT class at Petit Le Mans, and the eighth time (including three classes in 1999) that Porsche has won its class at Petit. A Porsche driver will win the GT driver's championship (either Bernhard or van Overbeek/Law) for the fifth times in the six years of ALMS, and Porsche has clinched its fifth GT manufacturers title in those six years.
Scoring their sixth podium finish of the season was the Petersen/White Lightning Porsche of David Murry/Craig Stanton, who finished third, two laps ahead of the Risi Ferrari 360. Finishing sixth behind the Flying Lizard Porsche was the BAM! Yes Network Porsche of Leo Hindery/Adam Jones/Lucas Luhr, while The Racer's Group Porsche of Patrick Long/Mike Rockenfeller/Cort Wagner was seventh. Long was headed for a fifth and possibly fourth place finish when he slid into the gravel with only 20 minutes left in the race.
The second Lizard Porsche of Seth Neiman/Lonnie Pechnik/Jon Fogarty was running as high as third during the middle of the race when a couple of spins and a collision with the wall on the front straight meant long stints in the pits and behind the wall, causing the 12th place finish.