Road Atlanta: Rahal Letterman Racing Thursday notes

RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING IS FASTEST GT2 PORSCHE ON FIRST DAY OF PETIT LE MANS PRACTICE BRASELTON, Ga. - The first full day of practice for the 10th annual Petit Le Mans may have been tougher for the engineers than it was for the driving trio of...

RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING IS FASTEST GT2 PORSCHE ON FIRST DAY OF PETIT LE MANS PRACTICE

BRASELTON, Ga. - The first full day of practice for the 10th annual Petit Le Mans may have been tougher for the engineers than it was for the driving trio of Ralf Kelleners, Tom Milner and Graham Rahal as there were more weather changes than tire changes throughout the three opening-day practices.

But despite conditions that ran the gamut from windy to humid, cloudy to sunny and with the threat of imminent rain hanging overhead most of the day, the Rahal Letterman Racing team showed that it was ready for Saturday's endurance race by posting the best time of any GT2 Porsche in the field.

The Bell Micro-sponsored Porsche 911 GT3 RSR hung up a time of 1:21.404 (112.329 mph) to lead the Porsche platoon, and finished only behind a pair of Ferraris including the series-leading Risi Competizione machine.

"Things are looking pretty good so far. The car is running good, there's no real dramas. Hopefully that continues throughout the weekend," Milner said. "We're quick and we're working on the race car, not necessarily the qualifying setup, so that is good. We still have some time to work on the car further, but I feel pretty good about what we have."

The team ran 55 laps of the 2.54-mile Road Atlanta course during the morning and afternoon sessions, ending up fourth in the morning outing and third in the afternoon. Teams also got a two-hour session in the evening in which each driver had to run three laps in order to be cleared to drive in the nighttime portions of Saturday's endurance event, which covers 10 hours or 1,000 miles - whichever comes first.

"Running in the dark was pretty cool here," grinned Rahal. "There's not a lot of light out there and there's more traffic than I'm used to, so it can get a little busy out there. But the car feels good. Luckily all of us are agreeing on what we need out of the car, so that makes things easier on us. I like the car, it's solid and I think we can do well."

The Road Atlanta track surface has been repaved since last year's Petit Le Mans, giving the cars much more grip than last year, and dropping times nearly two full seconds under last year's GT2 pole - set by Kelleners. A smoother track makes for a smoother car and Kelleners reports that the RLR Porsche has responded accordingly.

"Things went very, very well today. I think this is the best car we've ever had," Kelleners said. "The track surface makes a big difference in the car because it minimizes the bumps and the things that can give you trouble. But as the good as the track is, it doesn't make all the difference. We've got a very good car."

The RLR team will have another hour of practice in the morning leading into the afternoon's qualifying session, which sets the grid for Saturday's race.

-credit: rlr

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