DUMAS QUICKEST IN FIRST PETIT PRACTICE

Romain Dumas laid down the gauntlet for Penske Racing and Porsche in the first official practice for Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on Thursday morning. The Frenchman posted a fast lap of 1:08.720 in Penske's No. 7 Porsche RS Spyder that he will share with Timo Bernhard and Patrick Long to outpace Audi's Allan McNish.

The Penske Porsches have won the last eight overall races in the American Le Mans Series, taking advantage of some of the tighter circuits on the Series schedule. But the smaller LMP2 cars also have had success on the faster circuits like Road America and Mosport.

Audi was 1-2 Wednesday during testing with McNish's time 0.127 seconds slower than Dindo Capello's Wednesday lap.

"The circuits over here are very different than Le Mans," McNish said. "Penske also has done a very, very good job as well as some of the Acura teams. We have had victory taken from our grasp a couple of times."

The second Penske entry of Sascha Maassen, Ryan Briscoe and Emmanuel Collard was second in LMP2 and third overall at 1:09.631. The second Audi of Emanuele Pirro and Marco Werner was fourth overall and second in P1 at 1:09.833. The No. 2 car though was heavily damaged after going through the gravel trap at Turn 1 when the car's left rear tire blew. Pirro wasn't hurt although the Audi crew was faced with a heavy workload before the 2:50 p.m. afternoon practice.

The first five prototypes all were under McNish's qualifying record of 1:10.379, set in 2000 in an Audi R8.

In GT1, Olivier Beretta was quickest in GT1 for Corvette Racing with a lap of 1:17.661 in the No. 4 Corvette C6.R. The entry he will share with Oliver Gavin and Max Papis was 0.172 seconds ahead of the sister car of Johnny O'Connell, Jan Magnussen and Ron Fellows. The Doran Racing Maserati MC12 of Didier Theys, Fredy Leinhard and Andrea Bertolini sat third in class at 1:18.040.

A night after changing out the motor in its Ferrari F430 GT, Risi Competizione's No. 62 entry went quickest in GT2 thanks to Jaime Melo's lap of 1:21.110. The Ferrari was 0.371 seconds better than Tafel Racing's No. 71 Porsche of Wolf Henzler and Dominik Farnbacher. The Flying Lizard Porsche of Jörg Bergmeister, Johannes van Overbeek and Marc Lieb was third in class at 1:21.728.

-credit: alms