ALMS » 30 October 2000
Second enough as roulette gives McNish the crown.
In fifth place ran the sole Johansson-Matthews entry that, despite its heavy impact with the Brabham/Magnussen Panoz, ran untroubled to the flag except for a penalty that followed an 'improper restart' midway through the 2hour, 45min race.
David Brabham drove a storming final sting to haul the battered Panoz back into sixth, just two laps off the back of his assailant, but could do nothing about returning the roadster to its previous place at the head of the field. The incident at T9 was not quite the way the Australian would have wanted to begin his association with Crash.Net.....
Seventh overall went to the leading GTS car of Olivier Beretta and Karl Wendlinger. Class victory was enough to allow the Monegasque to join McNish on the list of 2000 champions, and was eased considerably by a good getaway and the demise of the lead Corvette.
The Fellows/Pilgrim car never got on terms with either of the two ORECA Vipers, despite having shown them a clean pair of heels in first qualifying, and eventually ended its participation in three fraught laps. The first saw the bright yellow C5-R disappear in a cloud of tyre smoke as it locked up and spun right in front of the overall leaders; the third, perhaps as a result of flat-spotted rubber, saw it disappear into the retaining wall, scattering its bodywork liberally and bringing out the pace car.
The second GM entry, driver by Justin Bell, Chris Kneifel and Kelly Collins had a less eventful race, taking third in class behind the two ORECA cars.
The position had looked to be, finally, going the way of the luckless Roock North America pairing of Vic Rice and Zak Brown, until the younger of the two slowed on the banking. Although the ageing 911GT2 got going again, the delay was enough to allow the Corvette through, and resign the all-American crew to fourth. It still fared better than the European Carsport entry, however, which was forced to retire after just eleven laps.
The Porsche finished just ahead of one of its less sophisticated brethren, as Sascha Maassen and Bob Wollek brought the leading GT class car home in eleventh overall. The pairing, which had heard just before the race started that it would get its Texas points haul reinstated, dominated the class after an early brush between Dick Barbour team-mate Dirk Muller and leader Randy Pobst saw both cars delayed - the former by a penalty, the latter by repairs to its damaged rear end.
The damage to Pobst's machine was enough to eventually render it hors de combat, but Muller and partner Lucas Luhr dragged the DBR car into second in class, prolonging the fight for the drivers' title until the season finale in Adelaide.
Joining Pobst and team-mate Bruno Lambert on the retirement list were Johnny O'Connell and Hiroki Katoh in the #2 Panoz, whose suspension was beyond repair; Franz Konrad and Charlie Slater, whose Lola smote the wall a mighty blow and brought out another full course caution; the Knighthawk Racing LM675 Lola, and the GT Porsches of Seikel and the Alex Job teams.
One car that perhaps should have joined the list was the #77 Audi, particularly after taking two hits that could have sidelined it. Such is the luck that championships are made of, however, and Allan McNish was content enough to take whatever came his way in Vegas.
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