Written by Claudio Boscolo, english adaptation by Davide Orofino.
This weekend we will be facing one of the greatest American endurance classics: the Petit Le Mans.
The race, to be held at the Road Atlanta circuit, has always represented one of the most unpredictable and entertaining events in the ALMS (American Le Mans Series) first and IMSA later.
Contrary to what one might think this classic “Stars and Stripes” is speaking Italian amazingly, right from its very beginnings.
In fact, the founder of the race itself was Don Panoz, an entrepreneur and ALMS president of Italian descent who, in 1998, first included the Road Atlanta stage in the sportprototype calendar to become, later on, an immovable ALMS stage.
Petit Le Mans speaks italian, not only for the origins but also for results.
In fact Dindo Capello, italian legend of endurance raging, helds record of wins in the competition, with five wins.
Not only Capello, indeed, but also Michele Alboreto (crewed with Dindo and McNish), Emanuele Pirro, Andrea Belicchi and Max Angelello for the prototype class; while for the GTs we find Cilli, Max Papis, Bruni and Fisichella (same crew) and Michele Rugolo.
As for this edition, eyes are on our friends from Cetilar Racing, in the GTD category, already class winners of the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Speaking of schedules, the Petit Le Mans ends after a full ten hours or upon reaching one thousand miles of racing, whichever comes first (in recent history no one has ever crossed the finish line of the necessary miles)
In these ten hours, the Georgian race has always presented a remarkable amount of “upsets,” making it always captivating to watch throughout its ten-hour duration.
Even from its debut on the calendar, the Road Atlanta race was an immense success so much so that it was already considered a classic after just one edition.
We are in fact in 1998, at the first edition of the Petit Le Mans, and the game was immediately turned upside down by the Ferrari 333 SP owned by Doyle-Risi.
Much slower in qualifying than their Porsche TWR rivals and with a race pace that was not irresistible, the Ferrari boys were able to take advantage of Dalmas‘ pyrotechnic accident and thus take the unexpected victory.
And this is just the first of many examples, such as just the following edition in 1999, with the Panoz LMP1 Roadster S winning by taking advantage of Mueller’s mistake that graveled his own BMW V12 giving the victory to the Petit Le Mans founder’s car.
In more recent times, the motorsport gods have had fun messing up the cards in the last breaths of the race.
In 2020 the unexpected victory of Wayne Taylor Racing’s Cadillac, which took the lead with only ten minutes to go, taking advantage of a crash between Ricky Taylor’s Acura and Pipo Derani’s Cadillac, thus crossing the finish line in the lead.
The Petit Le Mans could not disappoint the following year either with the twist coming directly on the last lap of the race, thus deciding the championship between the Acura driven by Ricky Taylor and Felipe Nasr’s Cadillac battling for second place.
Given this premise, we expect great things from the race scheduled for the first of October.