Road Atlanta: Rahal Letterman Racing qualifying report

RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING PORSCHE QUALIFIES FOURTH IN GT2 FOR TOMORROW'S PETIT LE MANS BRASELTON, Ga. - At an endurance sportscar race, there are many people that can affect how a team performs and where that team ends up when the event clock...

RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING PORSCHE QUALIFIES FOURTH IN GT2 FOR TOMORROW'S PETIT LE MANS

BRASELTON, Ga. - At an endurance sportscar race, there are many people that can affect how a team performs and where that team ends up when the event clock strikes zero.

But on a warm, humid Friday at Road Atlanta, only Tom Milner could do anything about where the team would start tomorrow's Petit Le Mans as he took the wheel of the team's #18 Bell Micro Porsche for a 25-minute qualifying session. Meanwhile co-drivers Ralf Kelleners and Graham Rahal stood by with the rest of the team and did the only thing they could do. They waited and watched the timing screen.

But if Milner felt any pressure, he never showed it as he blistered through five quick laps to score the fourth spot on the GT2 grid, posting a best time of 1:22.124 (111.34 mph).

"Endurance racing is a team sport," Milner mused. "The crew is very important as we have a lot of stops to make, the engineers are vital to our success and we have two other drivers that I am very confident in. So I wasn't worried, I just went out and tried to run the best lap I could and it worked out pretty well for us."

Milner improved his time around the 2.54-mile Road Atlanta course on each of his first five laps, making a late charge up the leaderboard as the team decided to wait until the latter half of the session to go on track.

"The track was a bit different than we expected but it's the same for everyone," said team Technical Director Jay O'Connell. "Because the track was drying, we thought that we would wait for the best possible track conditions and it worked out well for us. I think we got the best conditions we could in a short session and Tom did a good job of getting the most out of the car."

The strategy worked well as an Arie Luyendyk Jr. spin brought out a red flag that blunted the charges of those that had gone out at the drop of the green flag. Milner went from ninth on the GT2 grid to third in those five laps, but dropped back to fourth on the last lap when his time was eclipsed by Jorg Bermeister.

"Fourth is a good place to start," suggested the young Milner. "It's not as important where you start in this race because it is so long, but the GT2 field has been so tight this year that these long races end up feeling like sprint races because you have to go so hard. So fourth will work for us and I look forward to getting after it tomorrow."

The RLR Porsche 911 GT3 RSR didn't get much time to prep for qualifying on Friday, as morning-long rains turned today's morning session from a search for more speed into a few cautious trips around the Georgia layout. But the team simply went with what worked yesterday as Friday's times had them third on the GT2 grid.

"I'm pretty pleased because this is our pure race car, we didn't try any qualifying tricks, we didn't use anything that we aren't going to do in the race tomorrow," Milner reported. "The car felt comfortable right away and I was able to go through my laps just like we planned and we feel pretty good about where we ended up."

-credit: rlr

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Ralf Kelleners , Graham Rahal , Arie Luyendyk Jr.