LE MANS, FRANCE (AP) - Patrick Dempsey went to the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a legitimate shot at a class victory.
It looked possible, too, when the Hollywood actor led for a stint in the twice-round-the-clock race. But the No. 77 Dempsey Del Piero-Proton ultimately settled for fourth, just missing out on a podium finish in the LM GTE-AM class.
Dempsey teamed with Joe Foster and Patrick Long for the only all-American squad in the race.
"We were competitive the entire race," said Dempsey. "This is really what you want to be. Patrick did a great job on his opening stint, Joe was incredible in what seemed like every session of his in the rain, and our Porsche from Proton Competition was perfectly prepared. It was just a great race, we came up just a little short on the podium, but we will reach that goal soon enough."
Foster, Dempsey's longtime co-driver and motorsports business partner, believes a punctured tire in the race's first hour may have ultimately prevented a top-three result.
"It has been an amazing experience, that's for sure," Foster said. "Porsche, Proton and Patrick Long all did a terrific job. Patrick Dempsey drove fantastic and I drove my heart out as best I know how. We are all kind of numb at the moment.
"Looking forward, we would have certainly been happy with a fourth-place finish, but in the end we were about 90 seconds away from a podium finish."
Meanwhile, Stéphane Sarrazin, a former ALMS driver now running full-time in Grand-Am Series, was the top finishing ALMS/GRAND-AM competitor, finishing second overall in the No. 8 Toyota Hybrid in the LMP1 class.
Sarrazin, a test driver for Toyota when the manufacturer joined Formula One in 2002, was joined by Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi in the Hybrid.
"We made all the right changes during the race," said Sarrazin. "And we made no mistakes on the track. But, we need a little luck, as well. This was a great result for Toyota and already, we are very encouraged for next year at Le Mans. We need to find a little more speed but now, we have very good base to work from."