Rebellion reigns again at Petit Le Mans (UPDATED)

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With their main rivals from Muscle Milk Pickett Racing sidelined midway through with an overheating issue, Rebellion Racing claimed its second consecutive victory at the Petit Le Mans this evening at Road Atlanta, bringing the American Le Mans Series era to a close.

Neel Jani, who was part of Rebellion’s 2012 Petit-winning team, brought home the team’s No. 12 Lola B12/60 Toyota (co-drivers Nicolas Prost and Nick Heidfeld) for a six-lap win over the No. 551 Level 5 Motorsports P2 entry of Scott Tucker, Marino Franchitti and Ryan Briscoe.

“In some sense, it’s frustrating because [us and Muscle Milk] had a good race going,” Prost told Fox Sports. “I mean, I think it would’ve been really tight. But in the end, you’re happy to win and we’re happy to have back-to-back [Petit] wins in the final race of the ALMS. It’s fantastic.”

In P2, the class win from the No. 551 Level 5 team enabled Tucker to claim the 2013 P2 driver’s championship. Tucker, Franchitti and Briscoe bested the No. 01 Extreme Speed Motorsports machine of Scott Sharp, Anthony Lazzaro and David Brabham for top honors.

“These guys are the best,” Tucker said of his teammates Franchitti and Briscoe. “They did a great performance today. I couldn’t be more proud of the whole team. The [Extreme Speed Motorsports] guys put on a hell of a fight for us, and we’re lucky that we got here. But these guys did a great job.”

The narrow battle in GT went to the No. 17 Falken Tire Porsche squad of Nick Tandy, Bryan Sellers, and Wolf Henzler. Shortly after a restart with 11 laps to go, Tandy had a brief off-course excursion at the downhill esses while leading the race but was still able to keep the point over the No. 56 BMW Team RLL entry of Dirk Muller.

After that heart-stopping moment, Tandy settled down and hung on by .74 of a second over Muller, who also fell short in the GT driver’s championship as the No. 3 Corvette Racing duo of Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia claimed that crown with a sixth-place finish alongside Jordan Taylor.

“I couldn’t have wished for a better year to do it – the last year of the ALMS,” Magnussen said. “Who would’ve thought after Sebring [retirement due to gearbox problems] that we’d be here celebrating a championship…It just couldn’t be better.”

The No. 8 BAR1 Motorsports trio of Chris Cumming, Kyle Marcelli and Stefan Johansson were triumphant in Prototype Challenge for its third consecutive ALMS victory.

Even better for BAR1, Cumming was able to overtake PC points leader Mike Gausch and win the driver’s championship in that class. Or so we thought.

As it was later revealed, the second-place car in the PC class – the No. 25 8Star Motorsports entry of Ozz Negri and Sean Rayhall – was not a full-season entry and thus, they do not receive points and the teams behind them move up.

That meant Gausch, who had finished fifth, received a fourth-place points finish, enabling him to claim the driver’s championship by one point over Cumming.

In GTC, the No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche of Nelson Canache, Spencer Pumpelly and Madison Snow won, while a fourth-place finish enabled the No. 22 Alex Job Racing Porsche of Jeroen Bleekemolen and Cooper MacNeil to wrap up the driver’s championship there.

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

Hunter Jett Lawrence fans
Align Media
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ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”