RETRO: 2008 ALMS Detroit finish was on the nose

Images by Marshall Pruett

RETRO: 2008 ALMS Detroit finish was on the nose


RETRO: 2008 ALMS Detroit finish was on the nose


The American Le Mans Series put on a stellar show 10 years ago at Detroit’s Belle Isle, and at the conclusion of the 2h45m race, a twist turned the final outcome on its head.

With its four classes in motion, the ALMS saw Audi Sport’s No. 1 R10 TDI LMP1 machine driven by Emanuele Pirro and team newcomer Marcel Fassler capture the overall victory ahead of three LMP2 Acura ARX-01Bs from the LMP2 category. Post-race technical inspection would rip the win from Audi’s hands and give Acura a podium of its own, and the reason for the R10’s disqualification was memorable for the procedural mishap that brought it into play.

Contact during the 104-lap contest necessitated a nose change for the No. 1 Audi, and while the car’s primary nose was fitted with ballast to ensure the twin-turbodiesel V12 rocket met minimum weight, the spare nose lacked the ballast. With the in-race nose change, the winning car went from being compliant to slightly underweight, and once the ALMS technical inspectors rolled the car across the scales, the win was rescinded.

Andretti Green Racing’s new tandem of Franck Montagny and James Rossiter were promoted to first — and hastily called to the media center to conduct the second winner’s press conference of the afternoon. With heavy factory involvements from Acura, Porsche, plus Mazda’s solo effort with B-K Motorsport, the top eight spots belonged to LMP2 cars in the amended results.

GT1 honors went to Corvette Racing as Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta took the hometown win with the sister C6.R of Johnny O’Connell and Jan Magnussen completing an easy 1-2 for the Bowtie. With only three GT1s on the entry list, the privateer Aston Martin DBR9 from Bell Motorsports never had a chance.

GT2, like GT1, was a 1-2 affair as the Flying Lizard Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs driven by Jorg Bergmeister and Wolf Henzler and Johannes van Overbeek and Patrick Pilet held off the damaged Risi Competizione Ferrari 430 piloted by Mika Salo and Jaime Melo.

With the No. 1 Audi’s disqualification and an early crash taking the No. 2 R10 out of the picture at Detroit, the LMP1 class win was the only piece of business left to solve. Sitting 21 laps down to the AGR Acura, in 22nd place overall, Intersport Racing’s Lola B06/10 with Jon and Clint Field and Richard Berry was credited with the victory.

More lucky than good, Detroit’s LMP1 winners can thank the forgotten ballast for their success.

And in another interesting footnote from the event, Corsa Motorsports owner Steve Pruitt announced a new LMP1-hybrid program to debut later in the year with Johnny Mowlem and Gunnar Jeannette as the drivers of a Zytek 07S powered by a 4.5-liter Zytek V8 with modest electric boost from a battery-based Zytek KERS system. Generating something in the range of 60hp, the hybrid unit would make its proper debut in 2009 at Lime Rock, and stands as an early benchmark for what would eventually transform into 500-700hp of hybrid assistance at its peak with Audi, Porsche, and Toyota at Le Mans in recent years.