Westbrook and Fittipaldi dispute lead, Tandy stars, Bamber goes off
Earl Bamber’s long weekend continues, as just shy of the one-hour mark in the 10-hour Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, the left rear tire on the No. 912 Porsche North America GT Le Mans car failed, sending him into the gravel trap.
This came just a day after Bamber’s car aquaplaned and crashed hard during qualifying, requiring the team to go to a backup. At the same time, teammate Nick Tandy’s No. 911 Porsche failed inspection with a ride height issue.
Bamber reported a flat tire this time around, and TV coverage showed a damaged wheel. Whether or not that occurred as a result of the flat tire or vice-versa was unclear. After being pulled from the gravel trap, Bamber drove to the pits, where no further damage was evident, but the No. 912 entry went at least three laps down.
However, Tandy was sensational in the first hour, rising from seventh in the GTLM grid to take the lead of the class just past the half-hour mark, setting lap times that matched all but two of the Daytona Prototypes. Up to that point, the class lead had been disputed by Oliver Gavin's No. 4 Corvette and the BMW Z4 GTE of Lucas Luhr.
The rain had lessened and a mildly dry line was forming on parts of the track by the time Bamber beached his Porsche. The resultant full-course caution neutralized the lead of polesitter Richard Westbrook in the No. 90, and it was Dane Cameron in the No. 31 Action Express Chevy DP who took the lead as a result of pitting just before the yellows.
However, Westbrook carved his way past into the lead soon after the green flag fell once more with 8hr50min remaining, and by lap 50 he had a five second lead, as Christian Fittipaldi in the other AX Racing DP sought a way around teammate Cameron.
Tandy meanwhile maintained fourth overall while holding the GTLM lead a head of the two BMWs now piloted by Bill Auberlen and John Edwards.
Johnny Mowlem led the PC class for BAR1 Motorsports, while Trans-Am ace Cameron Lawrence – who has also scored two GTD victories this year – continued his superb season, keeping his polesitting No. 93 Dodge Viper GT3-R at the head of the field.