Post Le Mans
The Endurance Triple Crown
by Janos Wimpffen
The Le Mans 24 Hours is now a stand-alone event, not part of the myriad of sports car championships found around the world. However, readers of “Time and Two Seats” are aware that we have constructed a manner of computing an unofficial championship covering the major events. One such format includes a “Triple Crown” award across the three longest events, the Daytona 24, Sebring 12, and Le Mans 24 Hour races.

There are two methods used for measuring the achievements of marques and drivers. The first, more exclusive approach, requires that a given marque or driver not only compete in all three races, but also finish within the top ten overall at all three. The second, less exclusive review, only requires that a marque or driver have started in each race. For marques, there is no distinction made as to the entrant or the class. For both systems only overall classification is taken into consideration. The points tabulation uses the old “Can-Am” system of 20-15-12-10-8-6-4-3-2-1 for positions 1-10.

Based on these criteria, here are the results for 2001. Chevrolet has won the Endurance Triple Crown for marques. Their win at Daytona and overall finishes of 7th and 8th at Sebring and Le Mans, respectively, gives them 27 points. Porsche is the only other marque to have finished within the top ten overall at all three events. Second place at Daytona, 8th at Sebring and 6th at the Sarthe leaves them with 24 points. The less exclusive method provides the same results for the marques. Audi is not eligible since none of their brand started at Daytona. Were we to make the award even less exclusive, i.e., they need not participate in each event, then Audi would of course cart away yet another prize with 40 points from their wins at Sebring and Le Mans—but they don’t need yet another accolade.

Among drivers, none were able to finish within the top ten at all three races. However, the alternative method yields some interesting results. There were 21 drivers who at least participated in each of the three races. This is a healthy number given that the split in sanction of the races continues. Of the 21, four stand out. Andy Wallace and Frank Freon both garner 24 points. The English driver’s brilliant third place runs at Sebring (Champion Audi) and Le Mans (Bentley) did the trick. The French driver shared in the Daytona victory and was seventh at Sebring. His fellow Corvette drivers were right behind with 23 points. Johnny O’Connell and Ron Fellows were also on the winning team at Daytona and added an eighth place finish at Le Mans.

Interestingly, all four of these drivers just missed winning the Triple Crown outright. Wallace was part of the Dyson crew at Daytona that was leading until its late DNF. Grand-Am still classified them 14th, although according to our system the car would need to be running at the end to be considered. O’Connell and Fellows were both 11th overall at Sebring, while Freon ended 14th at Le Mans.

The notion of the Triple Crown can be extended to include the newly established Grand Slam, which adds the Petit Le Mans to the above three. There is no doubt that since its inception in 1998, the Road Atlanta event has quickly risen to prominence. We will revisit the points structure in a similar vein this autumn.

Meanwhile, we are continuing to apply the standard points concept to marques and drivers across all the major sports car series. This again is a legacy of “Time and Two Seats.” The same 20-to-1, first through tenth overall structure is applied to marques and drivers at each round of the FIA GT, FIA SCC, ALMS, ELMS, Grand-Am championships, as well as Le Mans itself. Here is a synopsis of the point standings at this mid-term juncture:

1. Ferrari 150 points [includes the Lavaggi and Doran Judd hybrids]
2. Lola 105
3. Audi 100
Chrysler 100 [includes both the Vipers and the Oreca prototypes]
5. Riley & Scott 97 [all engine types included]
6. Porsche 80
7. Lister 50
8. BMW 36
9. Chevrolet 34
10. Reynard 10
Dome 10

1. Butch Leitzinger 97 points
2. Tom Kristensen 95
Rinaldo Capello 95
4. Jean-Philippe Belloc 90
Christophe Bouchut 90
6. James Weaver 85
7. Emanuele Pirro 80
Frank Biela 80
9. Mauro Baldi 68
10. Didier Theys 66

Official website of the Le Mans 24 Hours
Official website of the Le Mans 24 Hours

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