McNish’s outstanding performance


Allan McNish drove a superb race at Road Atlanta last Saturday to win the Petit Le Mans for Audi with team-mates Dindo Capello and Emanuele Pirro. The Scot made a grievous error on his out-lap on the way to the grid, losing control on cold tyres and crashing into the barriers. McNish was able to drive his battered car back to the pits and after the Audi mechanics made rapid repairs he started the race two laps down.

Driving at his ferocious best, McNish was able to perfectly use a series of full-course yellows to get back on the lead lap before attacking and passing the Nicolas Minassian/Stephane Sarrazin/Christian Klein Peugeot 908 in the closing stages. The lone Peugeot to run this year’s Petit Le Mans led most of the race but McNish was able run down the Peugeot and pull away to win by 4.5 seconds. Lucas Luhr/Marco Werner finished third in the second Audi R10 just three seconds behind the Peugeot. McNish’s performance stole the show at Road Atlanta but the big news of the weekend was the Penske/Porsche team’s sweep of the LMP2 category.

Penske’s Porsche Spyders finished one-two-three in class and fourth, fifth and sixth overall so that Roman Dumais/Timo Bernhard wrapped up the P2 drivers’ championship after the Acura teams stumbled badly. Dumais/Bernhard finished fifth overall, eighteen seconds behind the class-winning Porsche driven by Ryan Briscoe/Helio Castroneves. The latter was delighted to be aboard the car for the final, winning stint after his appearance (in handcuffs and leg chains, no less) the day before at a federal court in Miami where he was formally indicted for tax evasion.

Three of the four Acura P2 cars entered in the race were eliminated in accidents. Incredibly, point leader Scott Sharp crashed his Highcroft Acura in practice, then crashed again early in the race preventing team-mates David Brabham and Dario Franchitti from running a single lap. Sharp’s miserable weekend essentially handed the P2 Drivers’ Championship to Porsche men Dumais and Bernhard.

The Andretti-Green and Fernandez Racing Acuras also crashed out of the race. Franck Montagny was battling for the P2 lead in the race’s final hour when his Andretti-Green Acura was eliminated in a nasty, multi-car accident triggered by Georges Forgeois spinning his Lola. Luis Diaz was aboard Adrian Fernadez’s Acura earlier in the race when he was hit by a GT car, terminally damaging his car’s suspension. The only Acura to finish was Gil de Ferran’s car driven by de Ferran/Simon Pagenaud/Scott Dixon, which came home eighth overall and fifth in class behind one of the Dyson Porsches driven by Marino Franchitti/Andy Lally/Butch Leitzinger.

The eleventh and final ALMS race of the year takes place in two weeks at Laguna Seca where the Acura teams will try to salvage the LMP2 manufacturers championship. After Penske’s sweep of the Petit Le Mans P2 category, Porsche leads Acura by eight points (192 to 184). Of course, Audi and Luhr/Werner have already wrapped-up the P1 manufacturers and drivers titles.

You may also like