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Rebellion speeds to 2nd straight win at Petit Le Mans
No. 12 Lola B12/60 dominant in 2nd half of 16th annual race
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Cars race around the track in the P1 class during the 2013 Petit Le Mans on Saturday at Road Atlanta in Braselton. - photo by NAT GURLEY

Race winners by classification

Prototype 1: Neel Jani, Nick Heidfeld, Nicolas Prost – Lola B12/60, 9:37:05.851
Prototype 2: Scott Tucker, Ryan Briscoe, Marino Franchitti – HPD ARX-03b, 9:37:17.11 (388 laps)
P-Challenge: Kyle Marcelli, Chris Cumming, Stefan Johansson – ORECA FLM09, 9:37:42.997 (380 laps)
Grand Touring: Wolf Henzler, Bryan Sellers, Nick Tandy – Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 9:38.21.029 (375 laps)
Grand Touring Challenge: Nelson Canache Jr., Spencer Pumpelly, Madison Snow – Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (357 laps)

BRASELTON — The final installment of the American Le Mans Series ended in dominant fashion for the overall winner.

Rebellion Racing’s No. 12 Lola B12/60 car recorded its second straight Petit Le Mans title, dominating the second half of the 16th annual 1,000-mile race Saturday at Road Atlanta in Braselton.

The Prototype 1 Class winner, driven by Neel Jani, Nick Heidfeld and Nicolas Prost, is the final winner of the American Le Mans Series, which will merge with Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series in 2014 to form the United SportsCar Racing series.

“It’s great — before I even came here, everyone was telling me how it’s a fantastic race,” Heidfeld said. “Even though it’s not the oldest one on the calendar, it has a fantastic reputation and it’s one of the sports car races you want to win. And it’s the last ALMS race, and that makes it more special.”

Rebellion took advantage of an overheating issue with the No. 6 Muscle Milk Pickett Racing HPD ARX-03c car on lap 201, which forced the rival team to retire after leading by a lap from the early stages of the race.
Heidfeld and Jani handled driving duties after Rebellion took the lead and never looked back, holding a lead of several laps the rest of the way.

“We were still lucky, I would say,” said Jani, who won the pole and was also part of the 2012 winning team. “Then slowly, we started to come back. We had a very good car and a good pace — the team did a good job fixing everything.

“Then my teammates took over, and they did a good job getting back into the lead so I could finish the face.”

The Prototype 2 Class took home the second-place spot six laps later, with Level 5 Motorsports’ Ryan Briscoe holding off Extreme Motorsports’ David Brabham for the final 40 laps in the No. 552 HPD ARX-03b. He relieved teammates Scott Tucker and Marino Franchitti to secure the class victory.

Brabham held the lead from Lap 320 to Lap 354, but was forced to pit late to refuel, opening the door for Briscoe to gain the lead.

The Grand Touring class offered the closest finish of any class, as Nick Tandy in the Walker Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR held off Dirk Muller by 0.74 seconds.

Tandy capped off the Porsche’s successful race alongside co-drivers Wolf Henzler and Bryan Sellers. They finished eighth overall, despite sliding off-course late in the race.

“It was clearly difficult,” Sellers said. “Any race in GT is difficult, especially when it’s a 10-hour race. For us today it was all about resiliency.

“We really started behind the eight ball, but nobody gave up.”

The P-Challenge race saw BAR1 Motorsports’ Chris Cumming, Kyle Marcelli and Stefan Johansson win the class with an eighth overall finish.

Grand Touring Challenge action concluded with the Flying Lizard Motorsports team of Nelson Canache Jr., Atlanta resident Spencer Pumpelly and Madison Snow finishing 22nd overall to win the class title.

Scattered showers blanketed the track during the first half of the race, forcing drivers to rethink their pit road strategies, especially with tires.

“The beginning was not easy at all,” Jani said. “It was dry, wet, dry, then wet enough to still have to keep the slicks. It was kind of a gamble on the tires, and it there was a question of how much you race on the wet tires before putting new ones because you never know when the next rain shower is coming.”

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