15 April 2007
Long Beach 2007: Penske heads Porsche 1-2-3..
Phenomenal strategy and a bit of luck handed Penske Motorsports its second overall 1-2 result in the American Le Mans Series, as Romain Dumas led team-mate Sascha Maassen across the line by 0.76secs in the Grand Prix of Long Beach.
It was the second time in two years that Dumas and co-driver Timo Bernhard had claimed an overall win in their LMP2 entry, repeating the feat from Mid-Ohio last May. To complete a good day for Porsche, Dyson Racing's Butch Leitzinger and Andy Wallace finished 13secs behind the winners to secure an historic 1-2-3.
"It was a tough race," Dumas said, "Timo did a great job at the start and kept us in a good position. After the safety car came out, we made a perfect driver change. After I drove, we didn't have a lot of traffic obviously but, for Porsche to finish 1-2-3, is fantastic."
Dumas and Bernhard ran the entire race on one set of tyres, a strategy the team developed had prior to the race, which was scheduled shorter than the usual 2hr 45min affairs. Their pit-stop and the race's only caution also fell at the right time as Dumas re-joined the track with 70 minutes remaining, the maximum time allowed for one driver in the race.
"We decided to take the risk and it wasn't easy on the car," the Frenchman continued, "But we took the risk and it helped us win the race. The driver change was really good, the tyres were good and I knew I could push. Ten minutes from the end, I only had a ten-second lead so just had to focus on not making mistakes."
The win also ended a nine-race winning streak for Audi's R10 TDI, although Allan McNish and Dindo Capello won the LMP1 class for the second consecutive race. However, on a day that belonged to the LMP2 runners, the silver machine could only finish seventh overall. Team-mates Emanuele Pirro and Marco Werner finished second in class, a lap down, handing the points advantage to the reigning champions.
"Every run of victories has to come to an end at some point, so we have to keep it all in perspective," McNish said phlegmatically, "We saw yesterday that it was going to be trickier than at St Petersburg, so we did the strategy the best way possible and I believe it was the right strategy. We just didn't have the pace to put us into the final parts of it today."
The issues started early as the brake ducts became clogged during Capello's stint. The car also had to pit late while running in the top five because it was running low on fuel.
Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin went wire-to-wire to win for the third consecutive race in GT1. The #4 Corvette took a 0.349secs win over the sister car of Jan Magnussen and Johnny O'Connell, who was chasing Beretta down in the closing laps. Both cars pitted at the halfway point, making the race a duel between the pit crews.
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