Road Atlanta: Paul Miller Racing preview

Paul Miller Racing will field a bicontinental, tri-country driver lineup for the Petit Le Mans, final race in the 2010 American Le Mans Series. Pierre Ehret of Tegernsee, Germany, will join the team's usual driver pair -- Luke Hines of Essex, ...

Paul Miller Racing will field a bicontinental, tri-country driver lineup for the Petit Le Mans, final race in the 2010 American Le Mans Series. Pierre Ehret of Tegernsee, Germany, will join the team's usual driver pair -- Luke Hines of Essex, England, and Bryce Miller of Summit, N.J. -- for the 1000-mile / 10-hour race at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga., on Oct. 2. They will drive the No. 48 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, carrying the colors of team sponsors Marquis Jet, Grand Prix Racewear, IPC Systems and TOTAL Lubricants.

The team has had a strong run this season, leading the GTC class in five ALMS races. Miller also notched a record class pole position at Mosport International Raceway and a record race lap at Miller Motorsports Park. Unfortunately, the success has been countered by adversity. The No. 48 Porsche has been completely rebuilt in the past month, after a hit from a prototype car knocked Hines into a guardrail at Mosport on Aug. 29. Hines was uninjured, but the car required extensive repairs.

The able Paul Miller Racing crew put the car back on track Sept. 25 and 26 for two days of testing before the official Petit Le Mans action starts on Sept. 29.

"Today was a little relaxed but we accomplished what we came here to do," Bryce Miller said after the first test day. "We did a few laps with the car to shake it down and we're all relatively pleased with the baseline performance. There is still room for improvement in our setup, but it was quite encouraging to reestablish some pace. Now we can all look ahead and set our sights on the race.

"The team has put forth a tremendous amount of effort to rebuild the car after our incident at Mosport. And even while inside the tight time frame to make the Petit Le Mans race, you can clearly see that every clamp, hose and wire has been outfitted with the utmost care and detail. The craftsmanship is amazing -- I feel tired just looking at all the work they've done! Now that we've completed a fair test, hopefully these team members can catch up with a little rest before official testing begins Wednesday."

The team and drivers know the track well. Their Buford, Ga., race shop is just 12 miles from Road Atlanta, so most of their testing has been conducted on the 2.54-mile, 12-turn circuit. Although he has been a rookie at the other North-American tracks this season, Hines has already achieved success at Road Atlanta, with a fifth-place prototype finish in 2008.

"I've been thrown into the deep end this year and it takes time to gel with a new team while learning the circuits and the style of driving that best suits the Porsche, but I've enjoyed every minute," he said.

"Our pace and reliability have been strong all season, but we've had our fair share of misfortune. This team just gets stronger and stronger. There is a great energy among the crew, despite the fact they have been regularly working through the night to get ready for Road Atlanta. They really deserve a good result and the win we've been hunting all season. We know exactly what we want to achieve in the final round and we're really revved up and ready to deliver the goods to finish this season on a high."

Ehret has competed in long-distance endurance racing since 2002. His results include three GT2 podiums in les 24 Heures du Mans and a GT win in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. He finished on the P675 podium in his first Petit Le Mans, in 2002. He usually drives a Ferrari F430 in the Le Mans Series, but also has experience in the Porsche Cup car.

"As always in endurance racing, pacing in the race is the most important, and having no incidents. Traffic could be more difficult due to the extra classes [in the Petit Le Mans], but compared to the LMS, we'll have less protoypes, so it should be easier to run in the ALMS," he said.

"The Porsche has to be driven quite differently than the Ferrari. One has to adjust one's driving style. The positive in the Porsche is that I get to have a better view as to what is happening behind me due to the car having a rear mirror, which the Ferrari does not have. That will make traffic easier. I'm looking forward to racing with the Millers and I hope I shall remember quickly how to drive a Porsche again!"

-source: paul miller racing

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