After the 12 Hours of Sebring in March, the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC) roadshow was back last weekend on American turf for the penultimate event of the 2011 schedule: the Petit Le Mans famous endurance race (1000 miles), held at the Road Atlanta track since 1998.
With a marvellous field of no less than 58 cars including 25 competing for the ILMC (the rest being for the American Le Mans Series), it was obvious that the performances would make it a superb 14th edition. And that's what happened!
Even if the spotlights were turned on the truly enthralling LMP1 duel between the Peugeot 908s (winners and title holders at the end of the race) and Audi R18s, the other categories also gave the public a good time. For instance, in LMGTE Pro, there was a magnificent race-long tussle once more, the final result becoming clear only in the last lap with a Ferrari victory (Fisichella-Bruni-Kaffer) by 6’’6 only!
In LMGTE Am, the tussle opposed another Ferrari, that of Krohn Racing (Krohn – Jonsson – Rugolo) victorious on home turf, against the Corvette C6-R of Larbre Compétition supported technically by Motul which finished its race in second place. After pulling off an almost perfect season, marked, it should be remembered, by a class win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the team managed by Jack Leconte therefore clinched the first and last LMGTE Am* champion title. A first? No, it was the thirteenth in 10 years for the French team whose national and international record of achievements can make contending teams stand in awe! From a Porsche to a Dodge, without forgetting Ferraris, Aston Martins, Saleens or now a Corvette, the French team no longer needs to prove its know-how in the GT realm. However next year, it is poised to take up a new challenge by entering not one but two Corvette C6-Rs in the World Endurance Championship.
In the meanwhile, without being under any pressure, team Larbre Compétition will contend in the last round of the ILMC that will take place in Zhuhai on 13 November.
* The LMGTE Am category was created in 2011. As for the name ILMC, it will disappear at the end of the year, to be replaced by 'FIA World Endurance Championship'.
Image : © David Reygondeau