Aston Martin back in the groove as Peugeot claims ILMC titles
After a miserable few months and the ignominy of having to withdraw the AMR-One from competition, Aston Martin have rediscovered their old form with a second podium finish in as many races.
Running at Petit Le Mans, the final round of the American Le Mans Series and penultimate Intercontinental Le Mans Cup round, the #007 DBR-1 of Adrian Fernandez, Stefan Mucke and Harold Primat crossed the finish line in third place overall to add to their victory at Laguna Seca two weeks ago. Victory went to the #8 Peugeot 908, driven by Alexander Wurz, Stephane Sarrazin and Franck Montagny.
As well as being the best-placed petrol car in the 1,000-mile race at Road Atlanta, the petrol-powered Aston was only one lap behind the second-place diesel car at the chequered flag.
Adrian Fernandez, who brought the car home after nine hours of racing, said: "It was a great team effort. The drivers worked really well together. Conditions were tough, especially at night, and visibility was poor when the light was fading, but we stayed on track.
"Winning overall at Laguna Seca and now third here against the top diesel cars makes me so proud of the whole team."
Primat added: "I feel great, it is amazing to be on the podium after starting with five diesel cars in front of us. We never thought it was possible at the start of the race. Just fantastic."
Peugeot claimed the first two places in a race dominated by safety car periods - 10 in all - and won the ILMC title for manufacturers and also the team title, which went to Team Peugeot Sport Total. This gave the French team their second successive ILMC championship ahead of their arch rivals Audi, who endured an unhappy weekend marred by incidents.
First Tom Kristensen lost a lap and dropped to 41st overall after an unscheduled pit-stop to replace the front nose bodywork of his Audi R18TDI and a punctured left tyre after contact with a GT car and then further damage came when Allan McNish was at the wheel ultimately forcing the Scot to retire the car with an hour remaining.
The sister car driven by Romain Dumas crashed out following a controversial incident with the leading Peugeot of Montagny and a GT car. Audi team boss, Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, was furious with the Peugeot driver, claiming he'd "barged" Dumas off the track.
"[When] I see this I know why Mr Montagny is not driving for me and why he will never drive for me," Ullrich said immediately after the incident.
Montagny rejected Audi's accusations though, commenting: "Romain Dumas tried to pass me at the end of the straight. The Porsche almost made a spin in front of me and I managed to avoid it. The only thing I saw is that Roman has hit the wall. It's a racing incident and I am sorry that this has ended that way. I could not do anything else and it is not I who was to blame."
Watch the video of the crash below to make your own mind up.
The final round of the ILMC is in Zhuhai, China, next month.