Aston Martin Racing came first and second at the 1,000-mile Petit Le Mans on Saturday 30 September. Tomas Enge and Darren Turner taking the top GT1 honours in their 007 Aston Martin DBR9.
The team, drivers and cars performed faultlessly to give British manufacturer Aston Martin the top two positions in the GT1 category.
Eight hours in to the race Lamy reported a right rear puncture in the 009 DBR9 and pitted, the team changed the tyres, fuelled the car to the end of the race. Lamy stayed in the car, rejoining the race in second place.
The seventh safety car of the race was deployed after an LMP1 prototype spun. The 007 DBR9 was waved-by and then pitted for tyres, fuel to the end of the race and a driver change, Enge getting behind the wheel for the final few laps of the 1,000-mile race.
The safety car remained out for 11 laps while marshals cleared debris from turn 12. When racing resumed the 007 DBR9 was leading the race and the 009 DBR9 was in second place. The positions remained the same until the chequered flag with Pedro Lamy crossing the finish line in the 009 DBR9 one lap down.
The elated Aston Martin team will be celebrating long into the night.
The Key Players—
David Richards, Chairman, Prodrive:
“It is extremely rewarding to finish first and second in any race but this is one of the most important sports car races, not just in America but in the world, second probably only to Le Mans. We didn’t quite do it at Le Mans but we did it here in Atlanta. Now let’s look forward to the end of the ALMS season and next summer back in France.”
George Howard-Chappell, Team Principal, Aston Martin Racing:
“Excellent result! It was a very close race and the lead changed several times. All four cars in the GT1 class were very evenly matched. Great job by the team and the drivers. It was very clear that you can do a long race with a car like this with only two drivers – when the car is well prepared.
“We were helped dramatically by gaining a lap behind the pace car and the unbreakable cars broke. The Aston Martins hung in there with no problems at all and it just proves how good a DB9 is as a base car for endurance racing. Thanks also to our tyre partner Pirelli who helped us to this fantastic victory.”
Tomas Enge 007 DBR9:
“I would like to give special thanks to my friend Vincenzo who is a doctor. I was feeling very ill yesterday morning and I thought that I may not be able to drive for the whole race but he fixed me up so that I could race today.
“This is the second time I have won Petit Le Mans. I also won here in 2003 but it is just as good this time. I am happy to take the victory; it has been a long week and a half for us. We prepared for this race with three days of testing which was hard for me and Stephane but it paid off. We found a great solution with the Pirelli tyres, we found a great set-up for the car and we did everything we could to prepare for this victory.
“Aston Martin has now won two out of the three major races with Sebring in 2005 and now Petit Le Mans in 2006. We just need to win Le Mans next year!”
Darren Turner 007 DBR9:
“It is a great feeling to win but it is a bit weird as we were everywhere in this race from fourth to third to first. It was only in the last couple of hours that it all came together and other people were unfortunate. The 009 Aston Martin was running strong and then it had a puncture which meant that we got back in the lead. Basically the last hour or so we were able to pace ourselves and not worry too much about the competition. The best thing is that it is a one-two for Aston Martin in such a big race.”
Pedro Lamy 009 DBR9:
“The car ran very well all day long. It is too bad we had a puncture and a longer pit stop when we had the problem with the water pressure. I really think we could have won had we not had those problems. Still, it was a great day for Aston Martin to finish first and second.”
Stephane Sarrazin 009 DBR9:
“It is a really good result for the team, it is a dream. I am very happy but disappointed at the same time. We were leading the race for eight hours so we did a very good job. Our race engineer Dave (Wilcock) did a great job. The car was really easy to drive and we are looking forward to the last race of the season at Laguna Seca. “
Car Number— 007 / 009
Total Laps— 374 / 373
No of pits— 9 / 9
Length of time in the pits— 10:54.115 / 12:06.631
Top speed— 115.75mph / 115.86mph
Tickets to Petit Le Mans were still being counted late Saturday. Road Atlanta officials estimated an attendance of more than 90,000 – up 26 percent from 2005.
Aston Martin Racing is currently lying in second place in the manufacturers’ championship.
Unofficial GT1 Drivers’ Championship Points
Olivier Beretta 157
Oliver Gavin 157
Tomas Enge 146
Stephane Sarrazin 140
Ron Fellows 136
Johnny O’Connell 136
Darren Turner 133
Pedro Lamy 124
The final round of the American Le Mans Series will take place on Saturday 21 October at the Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California.