Video: One of the greatest finishes in sportscar history

12th February 2024
Ben Miles

Once upon a time LMP2 cars stood a chance of winning against top level machines.

The two classes were originally envisaged as LMP900 and LMP675. The numbers stood for the minimum weight of each class. The idea was that you could build a bigger, more powerful, perhaps more aero-heavy machine for LMP900, or a smaller, less powerful, but more nimble machine for LMP675.

This didn’t produce much in the way of international competition. The manufacturers and those wanting to win the Le Mans 24 Hours chose to go with the more powerful 900 and left it to some smaller, perhaps more privateer-based efforts to use the 675 rules. LMP900s won, LMP675s battled in their own class.

But not in the USA.

In fact, for several years it was the LMP900 machines that found themselves hoping to eek out victories against their smaller compatriots. Why? Simply because of how motorsport in the US works. Far more street circuits on a calendar meant more times when something nimble had an advantage. There are also some tight, twisting road courses that send the advantage to the lighter cars.

By 2007 the classes had the names that would stick for the next decade, LMP1 and LMP2. But the differences were still roughly the same. Powerful and heavy LMP1 vs. less powerful and lighter LMP2. And in the ALMS the battle between the classes was fierce.

So we come to the round at Belle Isle in Detroit late in the 2007 ALMS season. In the LMP1 corner we have Audi and its innovative R10 TDI diesel, in the LMP2 corner Porsche, Penske and the RS Spyder.

Audi took the first two rounds, taking advantage of tracks with bigger power demands, but the LMP2 Porsches then went on a rampage. The yellow Penske machines had won seven races in a row when the ALMS juggernaught arrived in Detroit. 

Audi was desperate for the win, and with eight minutes to go held a slender lead against its German rival. What followed was a cat and mouse chase around the roads of Belle Isle. The powerful Audi pulling clear for the straights only to be reeled in through braking zones and corners.

We won’t spoil the ending, but we will say that the straight-fight between Romain Dumas and Allan McNish wasn’t sorted until the final handful of laps.

Hypercar is here, but it has a lot to live up to.

Welcome to Goodwood Elevenses, a helping of motoring-related amusement to help break up your day. Watch the last video: Onboard a Gold Coast 500 qualifying lap of the gods

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