Porsche Takes Overall Win at Rain Shortened Petit Le Mans

CLICK on image to view the entire Petit Le Mans GalleryWhen the checkered flag was dropped for rain after seven hours and fifty minutes of the scheduled 10-hour 2015 Petit Le Mans Powered by Mazda, Nick Tandy, driving the No. 911 Michelin shod GTLM Porsche, had rewritten history.

Tandy’s win at Road Atlanta, is the first overall victory for a GT car in the history of the 18 year-old race. Furthermore, it is the first in a major endurance race since 2003, when Kevin Buckler, with Michael Schrom, Timo Bernhard and Jorg Bergmeister, won the Rolex 24 at Daytona, defeating the then new, Daytona Prototypes… much to the chagrin of the car’s developers and the series organizers.

Tandy, with Patrick Pilet and Richard Lietz as his co-drivers at Petit, also was the overall winner in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.That victory, however, came aboard a Porsche Prototype.

The No. 5 Action Express Corvette was the Prototype winner of Petit Le Mans. Regular drivers Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi repeated as season champions.  Sebastien Bourdais was on hand for the endurance races, all three of the drivers won the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup.

In the Prototype Challenge division, the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen entry of Mike Guasch, Tom Kimber-Smith and Andrew Palmer, took the race win and the Patron North American Endurance Cup title.

The GT Daytona win went to the No. 73 Park Place Porsche 911 GT America of Patrick Lindsey, Madison Snow and Spencer Pumpelly, their second of the season.

In 2016 the series becomes the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Tudor will assume a long-term role as a presenting sponsor. The Rolex 24 at Daytona will kick off the 2016 season January 30-31, at Daytona International Speedway. Sports car fans will be the first to experience the speedway’s $400 million Daytona Rising renovation.


Test Drive: Audi A7 TDI

Premium automakers have been busy over the last few years designing sedans that look like coupes, with models like the Mercedes CLS, the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe and the Audi A7 all trying to fill a niche for buyers that want a coupe but really need four doors. All of them build ultra-high performance versions of these cars as well, with Mercedes offering the 577hp CLS63 AMG, BMW and its 560hp M6 Gran Coupe, and Audi with their 560hp RS7. I was anxious to try out one of these curvaceous crossbreed sedans so gave Audi a call to see if they had an RS7 they could loan me. “We don’t have any RS7’s or even an S7,” they said, “but we do have an A7 TDI that you can drive if you’re interested.” I had to think about that for a minute. After all, it’s a big step down from a 560hp RS7 to a 240hp A7 diesel, but I decided to give it a try and as it turned out, I was not disappointed.

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The Majestic Anomaly

VIEW PHOTO GALLERYTo say that the 12 Hours of Sebring is America’s classic sports car race is doing it an injustice. This event is like no other because this place is like no other. Lost in orange grove country in the middle of Florida - which is quite literally the middle of nowhere - the circuit is a majestic anomaly. Unlike the sanitized Daytona International Speedway, which hosts America’s other endurance road racing event, Sebring is unapologetically Old School to the extreme. Yes, there have been myriad improvements to the facility over the years, but the track itself boasts some concrete surfaces which have remained untouched since its days as a pilot training base during World War II. And that’s part of Sebring’s innate charm, especially in this era of cookie-cutter speedways and orchestrated sameness that permeates so much of racing today.

But the real heart of the matter when it comes to Sebring is its brutal, unforgiving persona that has been hard won over years punctuated by both elation and crushing disappointment. Sebring has a way of breaking spirits and machines with equal measures of finality, because things happen here that are simply inexplicable. The history of this place is littered with examples of drivers cruising along with their cars in the lead and with the race in the bag, only to have it all come undone in the final hour, and sometimes even in the final minutes. To finish here is an achievement unto itself. But to win here is a triumph that endures forever.

And this year, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida as it’s officially called, was certainly no different.

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