History & Records

Petit Le Mans 1998-2005 Records

OVERALL

CLOSEST OVERALL VICTORY MARGIN: 44.785 SECONDS, 2004
LARGEST OVERALL VICTORY MARGIN: 12 LAPS, 2005
OVERALL WINS FROM POLE: TWO (1999 AND 2000)
LOWEST STARTING POSITION FOR OVERALL RACEWINNER: 4TH, 1998 & 2004
AVERAGE STARTING POSITION OF OVERALL RACEWINNER: 2.375

GT1

CLOSEST GT2 (1998)/GTS/GT1 VICTORY MARGIN: 6.837 seconds (2000)
LARGEST GT2 (1998)/GTS/GT1 VICTORY MARGIN: 15 laps (1998)
BEST OVERALL FINISHING POSITION OF GT2 (1998)/GTS/GT1 WINNER: 3RD, 2005
AVERAGE OVERALL FINISH OF GT2 (1998)/GTS/GT1 WINNER: 6.50
BEST CLASS START OF GT2 (1998)/GTS/GT1 WINNER: POLE, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2005
WORST CLASS START OF GT2 (1998)/GTS/GT1 WINNER: 4TH, 1998
AVERAGE CLASS START OF GT2 (1998)/GTS/GT1 WINNER: 2.0

GT2

CLOSEST GT/GT2 VICTORY MARGIN: 0.367 second (2004)
LARGEST GT/GT2 VICTORY MARGIN: 8 LAPS (2000)
BEST OVERALL FINISHING POSITION OF GT/GT2 WINNER: 7TH
AVERAGE OVERALL FINISHING POSITION OF GT/GT2 WINNER: 10.625
BEST CLASS START OF GT/GT2 WINNER: 1ST (1999)
WORST CLASS START OF GT/GT2 WINNER: 7TH (1998)
AVERAGE CLASS START OF GT/GT2 WINNER: 3.25

P2

CLOSEST LMP675/P2 VICTORY MARGIN: 15 LAPS (2002)
LARGEST LMP675/P2 VICTORY MARGIN: 37 LAPS (2003)
BEST OVERALL FINISH, LMP675/P2 WINNER: 5TH, 2005
AVERAGE OVERALL FINISH, LMP675/P2 WINNER: 7.60
BEST CLASS START OF LMP675/P2 WINNER: 1ST (2004, 2005)
WORST CLASS START OF LMP675/P2 WINNER: 3RD (2001, 2003)
AVERAGE CLASS START OF LMP675/P2 WINNER: 2.0


History of Petit Le Mans 1998-2005

1998

The inaugural Petit Le Mans attracted a 29-car field of world-class road racing teams, setting the stage for the American Le Mans Series which would debut the following year.

Allan McNish led qualifying in a Porsche 911 GT1, but this car was eliminated shortly after the mid-point of the race in a spectacular accident when it did a full back-flip while cresting the “hump” on the back straight with Yannick Dalmas at the wheel. A Panoz GT-1 then took the lead, but later retired with mechanical problems, giving the lead to the Ferrari 333SP driven by Wayne Taylor, Eric Van de Poele and Emmanuel Collard. They finished 72 seconds ahead of the Porsche LMP driven by Michele Alboreto, Stefan Johansson and Jorg Mueller. 
The winning Ferrari covered the 1000 miles at an average speed of 102 mph. Seven different manufacturers finished in the top ten.

The Porsche 911 GT1 of Bob Wollek, Thierry Boutsen and Ralf Kelleners won the GT-1 class. The Freisinger Porsche won GT-2 honors with Lance Stewart and Michel Ligonnet at the wheel.

The first running of the Petit Le Mans will be remembered as one of the most important events in American sports car racing history. Not only did it instantly become a classic event, but it energized road racing in the United States.

1999

BMW Motorsport came to the 1999 Petit Le Mans as a heavy favorite, having won both the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans earlier in the year. And it looked like they would take the second annual Petit Le Mans as well.

Only the Panoz team could keep within sight of the BMW V12 LMRs, but with only minutes remaining, the leading BMW driven by Jorg Muller spun off course, handing the victory to the Panoz driven by David Brabham, Andy Wallace and Eric Bernard. It was the first win for Panoz in a major long distance race and made Wallace the first driver in history to win the world’s three great endurance classics of Le Mans, Sebring and Petit Le Mans.

The BMW team captured the second and third positions, while the Dyson team took fourth. Dodge Vipers took an impressive ninth and tenth overall, with Olivier Beretta, Karl Wendlinger and Marc Duez aboard the GTS winner.
The GT class victor was the Porsche 911 GT3R driven by Dirk Muller, Cort Wagner and Sascha Maassen.

Thirty-one of the 49 starters managed to finish the race, which was completed in just under nine hours. The winning Panoz averaged nearly 112 mph and Brabham set a track record by winning the pole position with a lap average of 129 mph. One of the largest crowds in Road Atlanta history was on hand for what turned out to be a stunning finish.

2000

The Audi steamroller took no prisoners 2000. Audi’s Allan McNish won the pole, set the fastest race lap and led teammates Rinaldo Capello and Michele Alboreto to a 3-lap victory over the second factory Audi. The win by Audi Team Joest completed an incredible sweep of the world’s three great endurance races of Sebring, Le Mans and the Petit Le Mans. Team Panoz took the next two positions followed by a BMW V12 LMR, and three Cadillac LMP entries.

Despite the Audi domination in the prototype class, the third annual Petit Le Mans provided an incredible last-minute battle in the GTS category between the Dodge Viper and Chevrolet Corvette factory teams. In a thrilling late-race pass, the Corvette of Andy Pilgrim, Franck Freon and Kelly Collins captured the victory and ended an impressive streak of Viper wins in endurance races.

The GT class again went to Porsche, this time with Bob Wollek and Sascha Maassen taking the honors by a big margin over the second place Porsche.
Early in the race, the BMW V12 LMR driven by Bill Auberlen flipped in a frightening incident reminiscent of the Porsche mishap back in 1998.

The 39-car field boasted a fine entry of international teams, and the huge crowd was not disappointed. Certainly the opportunity to witness the Audi team, among the finest ever in endurance racing history, was worth the price of admission.

2001

Audi became the first manufacturer to win the Petit Le Mans back-to-back, recording a dominating win and sweeping the top three positions. Once again, a stellar entry of over 40 cars were on the starting grid, but it was clear from the start that Audi was unbeatable.

Emanuele Pirro and Frank Biela drove the winning Audi R8 to a three-lap margin over Stefan Johansson and Patrick LeMarie. The Champion Audi took third overall, with Corvette drivers Andy Pilgrim and Kelly Collins first in GTS far ahead of the second place Saleen.

The new LMP675 category saw a Reynard Judd take the win, driven by Scott Maxwell, Milka Duno, Franck Freon and John Graham.

BMW was the victor in the GT class, with Hans Stück, Boris Said and Bill Auberlen edging out their team car by just a lap. Both cars finished in the top ten.

Despite the chilly and overcast day, the huge crowd was entertained by a world-class event which continues to grow ever year.

2002

The Joest Audi team completed a dream season by winning the Petit Le Mans, sweeping the world’s three great endurance races for the third consecutive year. Tom Kristensen and Rinaldo Capello drove the Joest Audi R8 to victory, edging out the Champion Audi driven by Johnny Herbert and Stefan Johansson. Team Cadillac captured third and fourth place in their final appearance.

Corvette won the GTS class in a spectacular duel with Ferrari, taking the lead in the final minutes when the leading Ferrari suffered a tire problem. Ron Fellows, Johnny O’Connell and Oliver Gavin brought the #3 Corvette home in first, with Ferrari drivers Peter Kox, Tomas Enge and Alain Menu settling for the runner-up spot.

In the LMP675 class, the Intersport Lola MG driven by Jon Field, Mike Durand and Duncan Dayton cruised to victory, finishing 8th overall.

The Alex Job Porsche team took GT honors, with Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr driving to a two-lap victory over their nearest rival. A stellar field of 47 entries took the green flag. Ironically, the same four teams that opened the season with wins at Sebring also won the finale at Road Atlanta.

2003

The Champion Audi team, after several frustrating second place finishes in major endurance races, ran away with the 2003 Petit Le Mans. JJ Lehto and Johnny Herbert finished with an eight-lap margin over the Panoz LMP driven by Olivier Beretta, Max Papis and David Saelens. The Biela/Werner Audi finished third, and clinched the 2003 driver’s championship.

The Prodrive Ferrari team recorded an impressive one-two finish in the GTS class, with Alain Menu, Peter Kox and Tomas Enge driving the winning 550 Maranello. Corvette managed to win the season championship with a third place finish.

The Alex Job team continued its mastery of the GT class in major endurance races by winning the class and finishing 8th overall. Timo Bernhard, Jorg Bergmeister and Romain Dumas drove the class-winning Porsche 911 GT3RS.

2004

The Champion Audi team recorded its second straight win at the Petit Le Mans last year, with J.J. Lehto and Marco Werner driving the #38 Audi R8 to a three-lap win over Pierre Kaffer and Johnny Herbert in another Audi. The Dyson Lola finished third with Jan Lammers and Chris Dyson driving. The win was the fifth consecutive for Audi at Road Atlanta’s endurance classic.

Corvette took the top two spots in the GT1 class with Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta driving the winning car, just one lap ahead of teammates Johnny O’Connell and Ron Fellows.

Clint Field and Robin Lidell drove the Intersport Lola to a win in the LP2 class, while Alex Job Racing captured yet another win in the GT2 class with Timo Bernhard and Jorg Bergmeister aboard the winning Porsche 911 GT3RSR.
Another record crowd was in attendance to witness the spectacular 34-car field. The winning Audi covered the 1,000 miles at an average speed of 104.3 mph.

2005

Audi scored a convincing win at the Petit Le Mans last year, finishing 12 laps ahead of the Dyson Lola. However, the race may have been decided on the first turn of the first lap, when the pole-winning Zytek was eliminated in an accident. Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro drove their R8 to an average speed near 108 mph. Chris Dyson and Guy Smith took second place on the podium.

A total of 30 cars took the green flag, with James Weaver leading the first 42 laps. Audi took command after the halfway point and never looked back, earning the largest margin of victory in the race’s eight-year history.

Corvette took third overall and first in the GT1 class with Oliver Gavin, Jan Magnusson and Olivier Beretta edging out the Aston Martin team by just one lap. Saleen took third place in the GT1 class. In the GT2 division, The Petersen/White Lightning Porsche driver by Patrick Long and Jorg Bergneister took the victory by one lap over the Alex Job team.

The Intersport Lola won the LMP2 category, with Liz Halliday and Jon and Clint Field at the wheel. The win was Jon Field’s fifth victory at Road Atlanta.

Petit Fast Facts

  • 10 hours of racing
  • First run on October 10, 1998
  • Class winners of this event receive an automatic invitation to the following year's 24 Hours of Le Mans

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