Tony Burgess and Kyle Marcelli to Represent Canada at Prestigious Event
(BOWMANVILLE, ON – September 27, 2010) Two Canadians will join one of the largest fields in the 11-year history of the American Le Mans Series as they take to the 4.1 km (2.54 mile), 12-turn Road Atlanta circuit for the 13th Annual Petit Le Mans this Saturday (October 2).
Not only will the 1609 km (1000 mile)/10-hour race mark the season finale for the American Le Mans Series, but it will also be the second round and first in North America, for the new Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, a four-race championship put on by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), sanctioning body for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The championships in all four classes will be up for grabs when the green flag drops at 11:15 am ET. Current LMP class leader, the Patron Highcroft trio of David Brabham, Simon Pagenaud and Marino Franchitti can clinch back-to-back titles. Mosport GT class winners Patrick Long and Joerg Bergmeister in their Flying Lizards Motorsports Porsche head into Saturday’s race with a sizeable lead, while Green Earth Team Gunnar drivers Gunnar Jeanette and Scott Tucker own a slim six-point advantage in the LMPC class. Tim Pappas and Joern Bleekemolen are on top in the GTC category.
Joining the 2010 American Le Mans Series regulars for the classic endurance race will be the diesel powerhouse factory prototype teams of Audi and Peugeot as they look to renew their rivalry on North American soil. Both manufacturers have entered two cars teams. Petit Le Mans will also see several new GT cars enter the mix. The innovative Porsche GT3R Hybrid will make its North American debut and will be driven by overall winner at Mosport, Romain Dumas. The anticipated Panoz Abruzzi “Spirit of Le Mans” will be also see its first competition this weekend as it makes its inaugural run.
Representing Canada in the international field is Toronto’s Tony Burgess, veteran of 10 Petit events and series rookie Kyle Marcelli of Barrie.
Burgess is coming off his best series finish to date, placing third overall and in class at his home track of Mosport International Raceway on August 29. For Petit Le Mans, the Autocon Motorsports Lola will revert back to its standard line-up of drivers which include Americans Bryan Willman and Chris McMurray. Burgess’s co-driver at Mosport, Johnny Mowlem will be setting the car up this week for the race.
“We are confident that when we arrive for practice this Wednesday, we will be very much ahead of the game and have a well sorted-out car,” the 55-year-old explained. “We should be able to get down to business right away.”
The road racing veteran’s best finish at Petit Le Mans was 4th in class. He and his team will be looking to use the momentum from Mosport in the season finale.
“I certainly hope that we can build off our success at Mosport but Petit is a very different race because the length of it and the large field of cars that it brings in,” stated Burgess. “The race attracts the major factory entries of Audi and Peugeot. Right away you have four cars in our class that are virtually impossible to beat. The main goal will be to finish first among the privateers and to do that we have to beat Drayson and Intersport; they are our real competition.”
Burgess will also look to compete in the remaining Intercontinental Le Mans Cup races and is hoping to earn an automatic entry to the 24 Hours of Le Mans by finishing first in the LMP1 category.
“Even though in North America, the LMP classes have been lumped into one, the ACO still keeps track of both LMP1 and LMP2,” stated the Toronto native. “On that basis, Autocon is leading the LMP1 points race because we have done better than Intersport and Drayson in terms of overall reliability. I believe we only have to finish Petit (70 per cent of race distance) and we win that class even if Drayson finished first overall. That should get us an automatic entry to Le Mans next year.”
Kyle Marcelli is new to the American Le Mans Series this year, but is no stranger to sports car racing. He made the successful jump from the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites program and hasn’t looked back.
“This season has been a learning experience for sure,” the 20-year-old said. “It hasn’t been as easy as I anticipated, but so far it has been a dream come true.”
The prototype pilot will be making his first appearance at Petit Le Mans and has high hopes for the race.
“I expect to do fairly well,” he continued. “In the last few events we’ve been competitive and right there as far as quick lap times and qualifying.”
Marcelli will once again be teaming up with brothers David and Chapman Ducote in the Intersport Racing Oreca FLM09. Coming off the two hour-45 minute sprint at Mosport, the second youngest racer in the series knows that he must stay focused.
“You prepare differently for the 10-hour race both mentally and physically,” he explained. “Obviously from a physical standpoint you do a lot more cardio and endurance training. Being mentally prepared is the key component because you are in the car for two hours at a time and to stay focused for that long is difficult and one mistake could cost you. I have been working on focus and reaction time and I feel ready to go.”
Petit Le Mans powered by MAZDA 2 at Road Atlanta is set for 11:15 am ET on Saturday, October 2. SPEED will air the race starting at 11 a.m., with live radio coverage available on American Le Mans Radio as well as Sirius Channel 127 and XM Channel 242.
Americanlemans.com will stream qualifying live starting at 3:15 pm ET on Friday, October 1. Visit the Series’ schedule page for ticket and accommodation information. Live Timing and Scoring, track schedule, entry list and much, much more will be available on Racehub at americanlemans.com
© RIF | Mosport Media-Ryan Chalmers