The problem with green hornets
Customarily, one has to watch out for the red ants at Road Atlanta. This year it’s the green hornets.
Green Hornet Racing is packing up and going home early, a good move on the part of the team responsible for gutting two viable racecars this weekend during the 15th annual Petit Le Mans. In a GTC class that allows “gentleman drivers” to compete alongside professionals, you’re bound to have incidents. Green Hornet Racing hired the accomplished Damien Faulkner in the cockpit, he’s the pro on the team.
On Wednesday team “gentleman” driver Peter LeSaffre got tail-happy going toward the final bridge before the hill down to start/finish and contacted the Nissan DeltaWing, sending it and driver Gunnar Jeannette on a magic carpet ride that caused the car to roll and hit the walls. Fortunately, after raising both arms in the ultimate question mark of WTF, Jeannette was able to easily climb from the stricken car.
This is not the first time the DeltaWing has been impacted; its first such incident occurred at Le Mans during the first lap after a restart when one of the Toyota hybrid LM P1 cars punted it off. At Le Mans the car couldn’t be repaired; the Nissan DeltaWing team was far better prepared this week at Petit Le Mans and had all the spares necessary – not to mention the personnel – to put the car back together again.
It took quite a bit of time, but the revolutionary Ben Bowlby-designed prototype took part in the obligatory night practice Thursday that qualifies drivers to race in the day-into-night contest. In fact, during qualifying the Nissan DeltaWing was 10th-fastest, but due to American Le Mans Series rules – or at least what they’ve historically done with similar machines – it started the 10-hour or 1000-mile contest from the rear of the field.
(Also starting at the rear of the field was quickest GT qualifier Guy Cosmo, whose Ferrari F458 broke a splitter and failed the height test by a minuscule 2mm)
So the race began and, as is customary the prototypes began lapping the slower GTC cars within five laps. This was expected – and one would think the driver’s meeting on Friday had been full of admonishments to watch the mirrors and keep sight of the faster cars coming.
The same Green Hornet Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, driven again by LeSaffre – at the time running 39th of 42 entries – managed to come into contact with race leader Lucas Luhr’s No. 6 Muscle Milk HPD ARX-03a leading to the Esses. Thankfully, the Muscle Milk crew was able to perform the necessary work to get their car back on the track (making several stops in the process) and the Green Hornet Porsche retired.
Couldn’t happen to anyone more worthy.
On Wednesday LeSaffre blamed the Nissan DeltaWing for the accident; I haven’t heard yet if the race incident was Luhr’s fault or not, but in my opinion, this “driver” should be parked until he figures out how to deal with cars that are at least 10-seconds a lap faster than him. That might take a lifetime.
By Anne Proffit