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1998 Petit Le Mans

The 1998 Petit Le Mans was the seventh race for the 1998 IMSA GT Championship season, then known as the Professional SportsCar Racing series. It also served as a prelude to the first American Le Mans Series race held at Sebring in 1999. Don Panoz's American Le Mans Series was developed with the backing of the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), the ruling body of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It took place on October 11, 1998.


Following the demise of the World Sportscar Championship in 1992, sportscar racing was left without a major worldwide series in which to compete. The 24 Hours of Le Mans remained a remnant, still competed by a large number of sportscars, but mostly on a single race basis. Various sportscar leagues had sprung up since the WSC's demise, including the International Motor Sports Association's replacement for their Camel GTP series, the Prototype SportsCar Racing series. In Europe, two series were also developed, the FIA Sportscar Championship and the FIA GT Championship, although they were not combined like IMSA's series.

The Automobile Club de l'Ouest, wanting to create a new worldwide series, made an agreement with Don Panoz, owner of the Road Atlanta racing course. The ACO would agree to lend the Le Mans name out to Panoz for the creation of an event called the Petit Le Mans (French for little Le Mans). The race would be similar to the 12 Hours of Sebring, in that it did not run a full 24 hours like Le Mans. Instead, the race would be 10 hours or 1,000 miles (1,600 km), whichever came first. The series would become an experiment for the ACO, in which if enough teams showed interest in Petit Le Mans, the ACO would look into developing a series around the same formula. In order to help drive interest, the ACO promised that the winners of Petit Le Mans would earn automatic invitations to the 24 Hours of Le Mans without having to apply or earn favor with the ACO. This custom continues to be utilized in the Petit Le Mans, despite American Le Mans Series champions also receiving invites.

IMSA, which normally ran at Road Atlanta during their seasons, agreed to allow a joint race for their series and the 24 Hours of Le Mans competitors. However, each series ran slightly different formulas for their competitors, thus forcing the organizers to create seven different classes. LMP1, LMGT1, and LMGT2 for the ACO compliant cars, and WSC, GT1, GT2, and GT3 for IMSA's competitors. Even though both organizers used the GT1 and GT2 names the classes were not actually the same, which is why the ACO classes are preceded by LM.

Official resultsEdit

Class winners in bold.

Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Tyre Laps
1 LMP1 7   Doyle-Risi Racing   Eric van de Poele
  Wayne Taylor
  Emmanuel Collard
Ferrari 333 SP P 391
Ferrari F310E 4.0 L V12
2 LMP1 77   Porsche AG
  Joest Racing
  Michele Alboreto
  Stefan Johansson
  Jörg Müller
Porsche LMP1-98 M 391
Porsche Type-935 3.2 L Turbo Flat-6
3 LMGT1 38   Champion Motors   Thierry Boutsen
  Bob Wollek
  Ralf Kelleners
Porsche 911 GT1 Evo M 381
Porsche 3.2 L Turbo Flat-6
4 WSC 8   Transatlantic Racing Services   Butch Leitzinger
  Scott Schubot
  Henry Camferdam
Riley & Scott Mk III D 378
Ford 5.0 L V8
5 WSC 88   Dollahite Racing   Bill Dollahite
  Mike Davies
  Anthony Lazzaro
Ferrari 333 SP Y 365
Ferrari F310E 4.0 L V12
6 LMP1 63   AutoExe Motorsports
  Downing Atlanta
  Yojiro Terada
  Jim Downing
  Howard Katz
AutoExe (Kudzu) AE99 G 349
Mazda 2.6 L 4-Rotor
7 LMGT2 81   Freisinger Motorsport   Michel Ligonnet
  Lance Stewart
Porsche 911 GT2 P 337
Porsche 3.6 L Turbo Flat-6
8 GT1 4   Panoz Motorsports   Scott Pruett
  Éric Bernard
  Andy Wallace
  David Brabham
Panoz Esperante GTR-1 M 335
Ford (Roush) 6.0 L V8
9 GT3 76   Team A.R.E.   Peter Argetsinger
  Richard Polidori
  Angelo Cilli
Porsche 911 Carrera RSR Y 335
Porsche 3.8 L Flat-6
10 GT3 6   Prototype Technology Group   Ross Bentley
  Darren Law
  Jeff Schafer
  David Besnard
BMW M3 Y 328
BMW 3.2 L I6
11 LMGT2 72   Konrad Motorsport   Franz Konrad
  Jan Lammers
Porsche 911 GT2 D 322
Porsche 3.6 L Turbo Flat-6
12 LMGT1 07   Panoz Motorsports   Doc Bundy
  John Nielsen
  Christophe Tinseau
Panoz Esperante GTR-1 Q9 M 317
Ford (Roush) 6.0 L V8
Zytek Hybrid Electric
13 GT2 04   CJ Motorsport   John Morton
  Ron Fellows
  John Graham
Porsche 911 GT2 P 311
Porsche 3.6 L Turbo Flat-6
14 LMGT2 00   Larbre Compétition   Patrice Goueslard
  Stéphane Ortelli
  Jack Leconte
Porsche 911 GT2 M 311
Porsche 3.6 L Turbo Flat-6
15 GT2 75   Pettit Racing   Cameron Worth
  Scott Sansone
Mazda RX-7 ? 294
Mazda 2.0 L 3-Rotor
16 GT3 1   Prototype Technology Group   Peter Cunningham
  Brian Simo
  Terry Borcheller
  Javier Quiros
BMW M3 Y 289
BMW 3.2 L I6
GT3 10   Prototype Technology Group   Bill Auberlen
  Mark Simo
  Andy Pilgrim
BMW M3 Y 281
BMW 3.2 L I6
WSC 39   Matthews-Colucci Racing   David Murry
  Jim Matthews
  Hurley Haywood
Riley & Scott Mk III P 273
Ford 5.0 L V8
19 GT3 86   G&W Motorsport   Steve Marshall
  Danny Marshall
  Sylvain Tremblay
Porsche 911 Carrera RSR ? 271
Porsche 3.8 L Flat-6
LMGT1 26   Porsche AG   Allan McNish
  Uwe Alzen
  Yannick Dalmas
Porsche 911 GT1-98 M 235
Porsche 3.2 L Turbo Flat-6
WSC 28   Intersport Racing   Jon Field
  Jeret Schroeder
  Joaquin DeSoto
  John Mirro
Riley & Scott Mk III G 229
Ford 5.0 L V8
LMGT2 73   Konrad Motorsport   Angelo Zadra
  Peter Kitchak
  Charles Slater
Porsche 911 GT2 D 157
Porsche 3.6 L Turbo Flat-6
GT3 12   T.C. Kline   Randy Pobst
  Pete Halsmer
  Shane Lewis
BMW M3 ? 96
BMW 3.2 L I6
GT3 96   Team Ecuador   Henry Taleb
  Xavier Collado
  Rob Wilson
Nissan 240SX Y 63
Nissan 2.4 L I4
WSC 27   Doran Enterprises   Didier Theys
  Fredy Lienhard
  Mauro Baldi
Ferrari 333 SP Y 59
Ferrari F310E 4.0 L V12
GT2 68   Charles Coker Jr.   Charles Coker Jr.
  Joe Varde
  Joe Foster
  Dave White
Porsche 968 Turbo RS P 50
Porsche 3.0 L Turbo I4
LMGT2 59   Marcos Racing International   Cor Euser
  Christian Vann
  Harald Becker
Marcos Mantara LM600 D 49
Chevrolet 6.0 L V8
WSC 29   Intersport Racing   Sam Brown
  Ken Dromm
  Simon Gregg
  Jacek Mucha
Riley & Scott Mk III G 31
Ford 5.0 L V8
GT3 23   Alex Job Racing   Kelly Collins
  Darryl Havens
  Cort Wagner
Porsche 911 Carrera RSR P 0
Porsche 3.8 L Flat-6
DNS GT1 5   Panoz Motorsports   Johnny O'Connell
  Jamie Davies
  Éric Bernard
Panoz Esperante GTR-1 M -
Ford (Roush) 6.0 L V8
DNS LMP1 21   Solution F   Philippe Gache
  Anthony Beltoise
  Jérôme Policand
Riley & Scott Mk III P -
Ford 5.0 L V8


  • Pole Position - #26 Porsche AG - 1:13.754
  • Average Speed - 164.62 km/h


With a total of 31 entrants, including a large number of European teams, the ACO considered the race a success. The only downside was that BMW, who had initially entered their BMW V12 LMs, did not show up for the race. However, the ACO and Don Panoz pushed ahead with their plans and announced the American Le Mans Series for 1999. IMSA, whose own racing series was faltering, decided to take instead take over as sanctioning body for the new American Le Mans Series.

The ACO would repeat later this kind of one-off experimental race in preparation for new series, with the 1999 Le Mans Fuji 1000km, the 2000 Race of a Thousand Years, the 2003 1000km of Le Mans and the 2009 1000 km of Okayama.

External linksEdit