For the 20th anniversary of Petit Le Mans, the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) - promoter of the American Endurance championship the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship - put on display four cars that marked the history of the race, including a BMW V12 LMR and an Audi R18 Ultra that participated in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in 1999 and 2012 respectively.
Though neither of the two chassis won the 24 Hours, the first did claim the top step on the podium at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1999 for its first outing thanks to Jörg Müller, J.J. Lehto (two-time Le Mans winner in 1995 with McLaren and in 2005 with an Audi R8 entered by the American team, Champion) and the driver who at that time had yet to win all nine of his victories at the 24 Hours, Tom Kristensen. Only a few weeks later in 1999, the trio was forced to retire at Le Mans with mechanical problems, leaving the sister car to go on to victory.
The trio Romain Dumas-Loïc Duval-Marc Gené went after the win at the WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in 2012 with the Audi R18 Ultra on display at Road Atlanta - next to a Panoz and a Daytona Prototype - before settling for fifth place at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June of that year, all while clocking the fastest in-race lap (Loïc Duval in 3'24.189). The composition of the driver line-up was rather unusual: Timo Bernhard (the regular brother-in-arms of Romain Dumas, with whom he won at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2010) had injured his back in an accident during private testing sessions at the Sebring circuit.
It was at this same track in Florida that the Corvette C7.R, winner in its class at the 24 Hours in 2015, clinched the first of its three victories in the GTLM class (the equivalent of LMGTE Pro at Le Mans) this season in the U.S. before earning the top three titles (Drivers, Team and Manufacturers) on the heels of Petit Le Mans. During the week of the race at the Road Atlanta circuit, Chevrolet welcomed a very special guest: a Corvette C7.R stripped of a portion of its shell to reveal the V8 engine with its inimitable roar as well as its aluminum chassis!
PHOTOS (Copyright - Cécile Bonardel/ACO): An Audi R18, a BMW V12 LMR and a Corvette C7.R chassis were exhibited at Petit Le Mans in celebration of its 20th anniversary.