Cyber Motorsports Event Photos

Race Photographs from the

Petit Le Mans

by Earl Cook, Road Atlanta, October 10, 1998

The polesitting Porsche 911 GT1-98 sits on the grid as driver Yannick Dalmas walks up. In my race preview, I had said that Dalmas will be a man to watch in the 911 GT1 at Road Atlanta. He was a man to watch in the race and it was almost unbelievable what he did.
Didier Theys buckles up in the Lista Ferrari 333 SP. Theys started on the outside of row one.

The Doyle-Risi driving team of Emmanuel Collard of Paris, France, Wayne Taylor of South Africa and Eric van de Poele of Belguim standing before their Ferrari 333 SP draped in an American flag while on the grid before the start of the Petit Le Mans. These drivers went on to win the premiere event of the American Le Mans Series.

In 1998, Collard won six races in a Ferrari 333 SP in the European ISRS series racing for JB Giesse Team Ferrari. His win at the Petit Le Mans makes that a grand total of seven victories for Emmanuel in 1998.


Racing legend Michele Alboreto slips into the Porsche LMP1 of Team Joest. The Petit Le Mans had a world class group of drivers entered.

According to Jan Shaffer, Media Director of ALMS, "Eleven drivers who have taken the wheel on winning teams at the 24 Hours of Le Mans are now on the updated entry list for the Petit Le Mans. ... The eleven drivers have gone to victory lane a total of 16 times in the classic endurance race. The list also shows eight Indianapolis 500 veterans, eight Formula One veterans and nine drivers who have gone to victory lane a total of 18 times in the Rolex 24 at Daytona."

The cars come down the hill into turn 12 just before the starting line for the 10 hour Petit Le Mans endurance race. The field was not large but consisted of a quality group of some of the top cars and drivers in the world. Just between the two Porsches (911 GT1-98 and LMP1), there are three Le Mans wins and the #7 Ferrari the 1998 winner of the prototype class. Didier Theys in the Lista Ferrari was the winner of the three major endurance events in the U.S....Daytona, Sebring and Watkins Glen in 1998.
At the end of the first lap, the Porsche 911 GT1-98 with Allan McNish at the wheel begins to leave the field. Theys in the Lista Ferrari was faster than the rest of the field and gave a valiant effort to run down the Porsche.

Update 2007

Tim Crete's PLM Video
(used with permission)


The Lista Ferrari 333 SP was running well and looked as if it would be a factor in the outcome of the race.

Butch Leitzinger, America's sports car driver with more wins in the last four years than any other driver, put on a great show with his driving in the SupportNet Ford Riley & Scott Mk III. Leitzinger drove the majority of the race for the team.


The car that I think does not look fast, but is... the Porsche LMP1 Spyder. The car began its life as the Jaguar XJR-14 and had a roof and intense ground effects back then. Now, it is an open cockpit, flat-bottomed racer with two Le Mans victories under its belt.

Anthony Lazzaro of Atlanta put on a brilliant drive in the Ferrari 333 SP and placed the Ferrari higher on the starting grid and finish than the car had achieved this year. This was only after Lazzaro had several days to get acquainted with the car.
A heart-breaking end to another brilliant run by Didier Theys. The car stopped just after turn 7 while running in second place and chasing the leading Porsche 911 GT1. Theys then used the starter in an attempt to get the car to a hill top so that he could coast to the pits. Unfortunately, the starter burned up and the car stopped on the road course.

It appeared that the car had run out of fuel, but Team Manager Kevin Doran said that the car had 2.5 gallons of fuel left in the tank. He believed it to be a fuel pickup problem.

The team used their rental car to pull the car back to the pits through the infield to the cheering delight of the fans.

Didier Theys and the Lista crew probably felt like joining this crowd after their disappointment.


The phenomenal Porsche 911 GT1-98 was very fast all week and looked unbeatable. By the 3rd hour of the race, the car was already two laps ahead of the second place Ferrari 333 SP. At the 6th hour with Yannick Dalmas at the wheel, the car was speeding down the back stretch and as Dalmas pulled out to pass the Joest Porsche LMP1, the front end of the car lifted and the car flew into the air at what looked to be almost 30 feet in the air and rolled backwards in a slow flip. As it came crashing to the ground on its tail, it slapped its nose to the track and then slid into the wall.

It was one of the most incredible accidents that I have ever seen. Dalmas escaped from the accident unharmed but the shock of the accident and the sudden disapparance of the car that seemed unbeatable. With the two leading cars now gone, the race started coming the other teams.

ESPN Video of the Flip on YouTube

Eric van de Poele prepares to take the #7 Ferrari 333 SP back onto the track. The team ran a steady race with few mistakes and no incidents to climb toward the front as the retirements of the Porsche 911 GT1 and Lista Ferrari opened the door.
The colorful Marcos managed 49 laps in the race before retiring. The car is a crowd favorite with its paint job and the big Chevy V-8.

In the minutes before the driver change, a driver has a chance to reflect upon the approaching challenges. After eight hours of racing, the tire changer is beginning to show some fatigue and rests before the car arrives and he has to burst into motion.
The incredible Panoz GTR-1 Hybrid ran a race with occassional bursts of impressive speed. The large vent on the right side of the hood near the windshield (on the bonnet near the screen for the UK) is the intake for the ventilation of the battery compartment for the hybrid portion of the electrical powerplant system.

I asked Doc Bundy what it was like using the extra boost of the electric motor. He replied, "It is just like a turbo, it will push you back in your seat!"

The Joest Porsche LMP1 ran a steady, but fast race and came in second place in the Petit Le Mans.

Late in the race, the #5 Panoz GTR-1 was leading overall. It looked as if the tough luck that Panoz has had at his own track in the last two races was about to be lifted. Unfortunately, the car blew a gasket and it retired while still leading the race. This race was very tough on the leaders.
As the competition dropped away, the #7 Doyle-Risi Ferrari 333 SP kept running a steady race and keeping ahead of the second place Porsche LMP1.

The SupportNet team changes tires while Butch Leitzinger turns the car over to his teammate. The team ran a good race and finished fourth overall and first in the WSC class.
The Champion 911 GT1 Evo, the car that makes night pit stops fun for photographers, ran a strong race and finished 10 laps behind the top two cars. The team recently won the USRRC Driver's and Manufacturer's Championships.
The Porsche LMP1 Spyder was there at the end and ready to pounce, but could not catch the Doyle-Risi Ferrari and finished second and on the same lap as the Ferrari.
Eric van de Poele jumps from the Doyle-Risi Ferrari 333 SP after winning the premiere Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta with co-drivers Taylor and Collard.
Emmanuel Collard, Wayne Taylor and Eric van de Poele prepare to soak the crowd with champagne as they celebrate their hard-earned victory.

The event was a success and the race was superb with good racing throughout. The crowds were large and got to witness a great battle on the track. For those fans along the back straight, they witnessed two events that they will never forget. First, Didier Theys attempting to coax his Ferrari home on the starter and then the electrifying crash of the phenomenal Porsche 911 GT1-98. It is an event that I will never forget.

In the event that was 10 hours or 1000 miles, whichever came first, the cars ran 1000.96 miles and approximately 10 hours.

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