Sascha Maassen increased his lead in the American Le Mans Series LMP2 driver championship after overcoming a seven-lap deficit to win the class in the 1000-mile Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga., on Sept. 30. Maassen, of Raeren,...
Sascha Maassen increased his lead in the American Le Mans Series LMP2 driver championship after overcoming a seven-lap deficit to win the class in the 1000-mile Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga., on Sept. 30.
Maassen, of Raeren, Belgium, combined with Timo Bernhard of Dittweiler, Germany, and Emmanuel Collard of London, England, for the victory in the No. 6 Penske Racing Porsche RS Spyder. It was Maassen's 26th ALMS class win and his third of the season. His usual co-driver, Lucas Luhr of Monaco, finished second in class in the No. 7 Spyder, driving with Romain Dumas of Basel, Switzerland, and Mike Rockenfeller of Monaco.
Bernhard qualified the No. 6 Spyder second on the LMP2 grid with a lap of one minute 11.631 seconds on the 2.54-mile road course. He drove the first race stint and held second place until he encountered a throttle-linkage problem after 61 minutes of the nine-hour 17-minute race. A long pitstop for repairs left him at the back of the field, seven laps behind the class leader.
Maassen drove the next double stint, starting at 1h53, followed by Collard and Bernhard. The trio steadily worked through the field and Maassen took the class lead at 7h8. Collard drove the final stint, taking the checkered flag one lap ahead of his teammates in the No. 7 Spyder.
The result secured the 2006 ALMS LMP2 manufacturer championship for Porsche and the team championship for Penske Racing, with one race remaining this season. Maassen and Luhr hope to tie in points after the final race -- at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, Calif., on Oct. 21 -- to share the LMP2 driver championship.
"I don't know if we all believed we could win after we had the problems so early, but we came back, we fought hard and tried our best. I have to thank my teammates and the team -- they did a great, great job," Maassen said. "In a nine-hour race, to have a problem after one hour is okay, but it was the only major problem we had. I think we deserved this victory and I'm very happy for the championship, as well. I hope we can finalize it at Laguna Seca so Lucas and I will be champions together."