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Petit Le Mans Preview Pt.1

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On: Wed, Sep 16, 2009 at 2:59PM | By: John Welch

Petit Le Mans Preview Pt.1

While all the other blogs are jet-setting to Germany for the Frankfurt Auto Show, we're sitting here in Florida begging for a reprieve from the oppressive heat. Not being there, or having any sort of operating budget, makes it impossible to compete, high-res image for high-res image. If you'd like to know more about the latest-greatest garbage-fueled nine passenger land-yacht, I direct you to a more qualified source, AOL's Autoblog.

If a steamy tale of woe and redemption involving the finest road-going machinery on the planet is what you're looking for, well, I've got that covered. The time: October 2008. The place: Braselton, Georgia. The man: Scottish-born Allan McNish . . . the circumstances: un-effing-believable.


I watched every bloody second of the Petit Le Mans last year. That is ten straight hours of Sports Car madness. The lunacy started twenty minutes before the race did. On his practice lap, Audi hot-shoe Allan McNish let his stone cold tires catch him napping while cresting the hill before Road Atlanta's first chicane. The results were disastrous. Finding video of the actual crash was difficult, but I was able to track down a short film of the stricken R-10 limping through the paddock area. If you'll notice, the driver side bodywork is gone!

The next video does a decent job of explaining Audi's position. As the cars came to the green flag for lap number one, McNish was behind the pits having his R-10 repaired. Keying his radio, McNish announced to his team, "That was my fault, boys, don't worry. I'll win you this race yet . . " Very 'Tebowian' of him. Car repaired, McNish rejoined the race two laps down.

Over the course of the next nine hours, McNish, and co-drivers Dindo Capello and Emanuele Pirro, fought their way through slower boogies until they were nipping at the heels of the leading Peugeots. The Peugeot 908 HDPi, Audi's main competition, had the R-10 covered on the long Road Atlanta straights, often pulling five or more mph over the Audi before coming to the braking zone. That's an eternity in the course of a two minute, 3.8 mile lap. Drive your Corolla for ten hours straight. Run at wide open throttle for 85% of every three miles and slam on the brakes for the other 15%. Your Corolla will self-destruct. With that in mind, it is absolutely nuts to think that the Audi was able to make up so much time on a faster car. McNish had his R-10 on the lead lap by the last half hour of the race, chasing Christian Klien's 908 through traffic. These ridiculous circumstances set-up our next video, six minutes of gripping drama that must be seen to be believed. Am I overselling how rad the Petit Le Mans is? Naw . . .

There you have it. The video ends a bit suddenly, but you get the idea. Audis are rad. Allan McNish is freakin' Superman, and the Petit Le Mans is one of the most entertaining sporting events devised by man. Period, end of story. This year's Petit will involve these teams again;, Audi bringing their new R-15 to the party. Stay tuned for more Petit Le Mans history, next, 'The First Petit.'

Source: The American Le Mans Series

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