McNish, Capello hold early Petit Le Mans lead

Allan McNish sailed from third on the grid to take the lead in Turn 2 on the outside, leaving behind a solid wall of mist due to the morning rain in the Atlanta, Georgia area. Warmup was delayed which gave the teams little chance to make any...

Allan McNish sailed from third on the grid to take the lead in Turn 2 on the outside, leaving behind a solid wall of mist due to the morning rain in the Atlanta, Georgia area. Warmup was delayed which gave the teams little chance to make any needed adjustments before the start of the 12th running of Petit Le Mans.

The 10th round of the American Le Mans Series on the Road Atlanta 2.540 mile road course saw the green flag start at 11:20am with the two Peugeot Sport team cars holding the front row. Once McNish placed the Audi R15 TDi in the overall lead, it was smooth sailing. McNish turned the car over to Rinaldo Capello during the first caution, just past the 90 minute mark.

Other competitors in the first two hours did not find it smooth going. The GT2 Robertson Racing Ford Doran started on the class pole but the rear deck flew off onto the racing surface which caused the aforementioned caution. Unfortunately, the same loss of the cover and rear wing came off during the morning warmup.

While Highcroft Racing had their headache on Thursday, their rivals for the series P1 championship, de Ferran Motorsports has had two problems, both with body damage in the race thus far. Team owner/driver Gil de Ferran was hit by Jon Field, who later served the penalty for the contact, and cost the team time to make repairs to the right rear suspension.

Later Scott Dixon took the No. 66 Acura ARX-02a off course in Turn 5, bringing out the second caution just minutes short of the second hour mark. This time de Ferran's team will be changing the nose along with probable front end suspension damage.

Highcroft rebuilt their Acura from the ground up with a new tub after Scott Sharp's wild ride in practice two on Thursday. "I couldn't be more proud of the guys," said tam owner Duncan Dayton. "They have just done an amazing job. The tremendous teamwork is just incredible. Everyone has just put their head down, worked together ... and made it happen."

Highcroft's David Brabham had to start from the pit lane in the rebuilt prototype with only warmup to shake the ARX.02a Within four laps, Brabham had moved into 12th overall. At the end of the two hours, the team was holding sixth position. "Our guys have their eye on the championship and they are not going to let a crash get in the way of that!," said Dayton.

Behind the Audi No. 2 car of McNish and Capello, are the two Peugeot Sport 908 Hdi FAPs.

There is still a long way to go in the 10 hour or 1,000 mile race.

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