Spoiler Alert: 10th Petit Le Mans is over, the first Green Challenge winner is...
[Source: American Le Mans Series]
The flagship race of the ALMS, the Petit Le Mans provided another battleground for the big diesel LMP1 cars on Saturday. It used to be that endurance racing involved pacing the cars to keep them running in the hunt until the last hour or two of the race and sprinting the finish, but not any more. The level of competition is so intense now that the racers are running flat out all the way for 1,000 miles or 10 hours in a race like the PLM. Peugeot decided to come stateside to run one its 908 HDi prototypes against the might Audi R10 TDI and the battle never let up.
Audi driver Allan McNish crashed his R10 on the warm up lap before forming up on the grid. After the crew hustled to repair the car in the pits, McNish finally got racing two laps after the rest of the field. While McNish worked his way back up, the second Audi battled the diesel Peugeot with occasional incursions from the Porsche and Acura LMP2 cars. Ultimately, McNish and teamates Dindo Capello and Emanuele Pirro made their way up to the front and ultimately crossed the line 4.5 seconds ahead of the Peugeot with the second Audi finishing third.
Finishing in fourth overall and first in the P2 class was the Porsche RS Spyder of Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves. The sixth overall Porsche of Patrick Long, Sascha Maassen, and Emmanuel Collard turned out to be the winners of prototype class for the inaugural ALMS Green Challenge. The Porsche RS Spyder made its inaugural competition run with a new direct injected version of the V8 engine. The direct injection improved fuel efficiency enough to allow the team to get the best combination of performance and fuel efficiency.
In the GT1 class, the Corvette C6R had a double triumph, taking the class win and finishing 10th overall as well as winning the GT class of the Green Challenge. As they have since last spring, the Corvettes were running the race fueled by cellulosic E85. In 2009 the Green Challenge will become a full season fixture of the ALMS.
The GT2 class was won by the Risi racing Ferrari F430 of Jaime Melo and Mika Salo who also won the GT2 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The ALMS field now moves on to Laguna Seca for the season ending race in two weeks.
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