Thursday, September 29, 2011

OT: Petit Le Mans this weekend

Audi and Peugeot at the Le Mans 24 hours battling, photo by LAT
This weekend brings us the 14th edition of the Petit Le Mans at the very fast Road Atlanta. Race preparations are already underway with the race taking place on Saturday. The race format is 10 hours or 1,000 miles which ever comes first.  

If you watching endurance racing in addition to F1 like I do then you are probably a fan of the technical diversity.  You have different engines, more robust hybrid systems, different fuels, different tires and multiple classes. Also, you know about the dominance of the diesels and the Audi and Peugeot diesels are back running in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) as a part of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC). This is great because the ALMS has struggled to have entrants in prototype class and has effectively made the series a GT series (but those GT battles have been pretty good this season). This has led to questions over the viability of the ALMS given the competition squeeze it gets from it's domestic rival, Grand Am Road Racing series and its international big brother ILMC. However, all that is a different discussion for a different day; its about the race this day.

In early testing for the race this past Sunday, the two factory Peugeot 908's were 1-2, but the pair of Audi R18's were in hot pursuit with ALMS regular, Dyson Racing in 5th. In recent years, the Peugeot has had the outright speed advantage, but when the big money races are on the table, Audi knows how to close the deal. In terms of the GT class, it is going to be a free for all. BMW, Ferrari, Corvette and Porsche. The Corvette Racing team are also big money guys. If you have a few bucks, you might drop a few on them. So, with a F1 off week this weekend I will be kicking back to watch this race.

If you are in the Atlanta metro area (which feels bigger than the state Rhode Island) some tickets are still available. At $90 for a four-day pass plus paddock access, it is a good buy. Especially if you have seen F1 ticket prices.

Petit Le Mans
American Le Mans Series
Intercontinental Le Mans Cup

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