Road Atlanta II: Wednesday test session report

Andy Wallace sets fast time in first Petit Le Mans test session; times close among top cars BRASELTON, Ga. (October 15, 2003) -- Andy Wallace set the fast time of the day Wednesday as American Le Mans Series teams had an unofficial...

Andy Wallace sets fast time in first Petit Le Mans test session; times close among top cars

BRASELTON, Ga. (October 15, 2003) -- Andy Wallace set the fast time of the day Wednesday as American Le Mans Series teams had an unofficial testing session at Road Atlanta to begin preparations for Saturday's season-ending Petit Le Mans.

Wallace, driving the #16 Dyson Racing Lola EX257-MG, turned the 2.54-mile circuit in a time of 1:12.458, fastest of the 35 cars that participated in the two-hour testing session. Official practice begins Thursday, with qualifying to be held Friday.

Wallace will co-drive in the 1,000-mile sports car endurance race with James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger, who earlier this season became the first drivers in American Le Mans Series history to take an overall win with a car from the LMP 675 class. The English driver set his fast time at the end of the session.

Second-fastest overall and leading the LMP 900 class was the ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 of JJ Lehto and Johnny Herbert, which set a time of 1:12.520 that was very close to Wallace's leading time. Third-fastest overall and second in LMP 900 was the Panoz LMP01 of JML Team Panoz driven by Olivier Beretta, David Saelens and Max Papis at 1:13.137.

American Le Mans Series LMP 900 driver championship leaders Frank Biela and Marco Werner lost approximately 25 minutes of testing time in the session due to damage that their Infineon Team Joest Audi R8 suffered when Biela went off the course. The team had to take the car back to the paddock to effect repairs, but the car returned to the track and set a time that was fourth-fastest overall, despite the limited track time. Biela and Werner can win the driving title by finishing sixth or better in the LMP 900 class in Saturday's race and completing at least 70 percent of the distance run by the overall winning car.

The second Dyson entry driven by Chris Dyson, Didier de Radigues and Chad Block was the second-fastest in LMP 675 with a lap of 1:14.596, good enough for fifth-fastest overall. Dyson can win the LMP 675 driving title by finishing the race in a points-scoring position.

Third-fastest in LMP 675 was the Lola EX257-Judd of Jon Field, Duncan Dayton and Larry Connor at 1:14.827.

Another tight Ferrari vs. Corvette battle appears to be looming in the GTS class, where the Prodrive Ferrari 550 Maranello of Jan Magnussen, David Brabham and Anthony Davidson set the fast time of 1:19.820. Close behind was the Chevrolet Corvette C5-R of Oliver Gavin, Kelly Collins and Andy Pilgrim at 1:19.928, followed by the other factory Corvette of Ron Fellows, Johnny O 'Connell and Frank Freon at 1:20.010. Though Fellows and O'Connell have already clinched the driving title for the year, the Prodrive Ferrari team has won the GTS class in three consecutive ALMS races. Ferrari can still win the class Manufacturer's Championship, which Chevrolet leads by only eight points.

In the GT class, champion drivers Lucas Luhr and Sascha Maassen set the fastest time in the test session with a time of 1:23.826 in the Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RS. Their team car, driven by Jorg Bergmeister, Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas, was second at 1:24.111, followed by the Risi Competizione Ferrari 360 Modena of Ralf Kelleners and Anthony Lazzaro at 1:24.627.

Two separate incidents brought out red flags in the session, both involving Panoz cars. Gunnar Jeannette tagged the turn seven wall in the JML Panoz LMP01, and the Panoz Esperante GT car of Hyper Sport driven by Joe Foster, Rick Skelton and Brad Nyberg was damaged when it impacted a tire barrier in turn three.

"I basically got caught out on new cold tires and spun the car coming out of turn seven," said Jeannette. "I was really lucky that I didn't get hit by somebody else because I bounced back out onto the track. The damage is nowhere near as bad as I first feared and we will be back out again (Thursday). Unfortunately, we missed the session but we will look at the settings from the #10 car and use that as a starting point tomorrow. Hopefully I have got that out of my system now and I just have to put my head down and concentrate on the rest of the weekend. The other car was strong today and are aiming to following their lead."

Saturday's race begins at 11:30 a.m. (Eastern) and will have seven hours of live TV coverage by the SPEED Channel beginning at 11 a.m. The American Le Mans Series Radio Web will have live coverage online at www.americanlemans.com.

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Series ALMS
Drivers Andy Wallace , Johnny Herbert , Anthony Davidson , David Saelens , Didier de Radigues , Jan Magnussen , Frank Biela , Butch Leitzinger , James Weaver , Ralf Kelleners , Max Papis , Ron Fellows , Andy Pilgrim , Anthony Lazzaro , Jon Field , Sascha Maassen , Kelly Collins , Lucas Luhr , Larry Connor , Oliver Gavin , Jörg Bergmeister , Gunnar Jeannette , Marco Werner , Romain Dumas , Rick Skelton , Brad Nyberg , Joe Foster , Alex Job , Chris Dyson , JJ Lehto
Teams Dyson Racing