Michelin win multiple classes in ALMS championship
The sun set on the 2009 American Le Mans Series season here in a colorful Michelin mosaic of victories, championships and excitement.
A storybook farewell drive by Gil de Ferran in the LMP1 de Ferran Motorsports Acura prototype was made especially exciting by the hour long chase by the LMP2 champion Lowe’s Fernandez Racing Acura of Adrian Fernandez. The duel saw Fernandez briefly claim the lead, only to be immediately re-passed by the larger, more powerful de Ferran. The margin at the end of the four hour race on the 2.238 mile circuit was just 0.662 seconds.
To save time on its final pit stop, the de Ferran Acura double-stinted its final set of Michelin tires for the final two hours and 12 minutes of the four hour race. The final one hour and 56 minutes were run caution free.
The victory was the fifth of the ten race ALMS season for de Ferran and co-driver Simon Pagenaud and the eighth LMP2 class win for Fernandez and co-driver Luis Diaz. Finishing third and clinching the LMP1 championship was the Patron Highcroft Acura of David Brabham and Scott Sharp. All are Michelin technical partner teams. “We wanted to end the season racing like champions,” said Adrian Fernandez. “Our car was perfect all weekend. Our Michelin tires were outstanding and the balance was just so consistent that we never put a wheel wrong all weekend.”
That was not the only late race exchange as the GT2 champion Flying Lizard Porsche of Joerg Bergmeister and the GT2 runner-up Corvette of Jan Magnussen saw a similar pursuit. Magnussen erased a 14-second deficit in the final 40 minutes to briefly take the lead with just two minutes remaining only to be re-passed seconds later. The two made contact in the sprint to the finish line and Magnussen’s car spun and made heavy contact with the wall.
The victory, the sixth of the season for the Flying Lizard Porsche was the 100th ALMS victory for Porsche in the ALMS. Michelin was the Porsche technical partner for 97 of the 100 wins.
“We would like to congratulate the Patron Highcroft Racing Acura, Lowes Fernandez Racing Acura and the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche teams and drivers on their championships and thank them for choosing Michelin tires to help make the difference,” said Silvia Mammone, Michelin Motorsports manager.
For the 2009 ALMS season, Michelin teams scored 31 of a possible 32 wins, including all 10 overall race wins as Michelin and its technical partners claimed every available manufacturer, team, driver and tire championship.