“We had a gearbox issue just once and the guys were able to fix it with only one repair,” said Franchitti, who qualified on the class pole, “I think I saw every kind of condition possible here at Road Atlanta today. It was especially great to bring a win here with the Mazda especially for a race presented by the Mazda 6. And now the Dyson win for Petit is pretty great.”
Franchitti and Leitzinger were class winners at Lime Rock in July, the first victory for the Dyson-Lola/Mazda partnership. The team also won for the first time at Road Atlanta in American Le Mans Series competition.
“These guys made it easy for me and this had to be one of the toughest conditions I've ever raced in,” Devlin said, “Marino did a great job keeping the car up there and so did Butch. By the time I got the car, I just had to keep it on the black. It was great how well the car has developed, especially how I left it last year and the continued commitment and effort from Mazda.”
Things didn't look promising early as the Lola-Mazda dropped as far back as 27th overall before attrition started to take a toll on the class. There were the problems with the Lowe's Fernandez car, and the Team Cytosport Porsche RS Spyder of Klaus Graf, Sascha Maassen and Greg Pickett led 30 laps before a spin and loss of power sent it tumbling down the order.
“This event, it is truly amazing - year on year it has increased in significance and attendance,” Leitzinger said, “I was here for the first event in 1998, and the buzz just gets bigger and bigger. There are certain places that you go to, Sebring, the Indy 500, Le Mans, and this really has attained that in just a short amount of time and how everyone has embraced that. We've had some really horrible disappointments here, and it was really important for Dyson Racing to get this win.”
Despite its problems, the Lowe's Fernandez duo completed enough laps to clinch the LMP2 team championship, as well as the manufacturer championships for Acura.
Risi Competizione's Jaime Melo, Pierre Kaffer and Mika Salo won in GT2 in their Ferrari F430 GT, the fifth straight endurance victory for the team. A brilliant call by Salo to take wet tyres before the rest of the GT2 field proved to be the difference, and it took him just six laps to move the Ferrari past the five cars in front of him to take the lead for good.
BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team's Dirk Müller, Jörg Müller and Tommy Milner placed second in their BMW M3, while Dirk Werner and Wolf Henzler were third in their Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, clinching the manufacturer championship for Porsche.
“This is only my third race this year with the team,” Salo pointed out, “It is such a good atmosphere; everyone works so hard. You can trust them and they don't go off the track. It's so much a pleasure to drive with the Risi team. We might not have been the fastest in the dry but, in the wet, we were very quick.”
The Ferrari began tenth on the GT2 grid after a puncture limited Melo to one flying lap in qualifying, and never cracked the top three until the rain fell, as the opening portion of the race saw the top six in class on the lead lap, another testament to the level of GT2 competition.