Road Atlanta: Saturday report

Weaver awarded top starting spot for Chevy Grand Prix of Atlanta. BRASELTON, Ga. - James Weaver was awarded the top starting position for Sunday's American Le Mans Series Chevy Grand Prix of Atlanta after Saturday's qualifying was canceled due...

Weaver awarded top starting spot for Chevy Grand Prix of Atlanta.

BRASELTON, Ga. - James Weaver was awarded the top starting position for Sunday's American Le Mans Series Chevy Grand Prix of Atlanta after Saturday's qualifying was canceled due to wet track conditions at Road Atlanta.

The starting lineup for the race was determined by practice speeds that were posted during three sessions held during the day and Weaver set the fastest lap of 1:13.748 (123.990 mph) in the Dyson Racing Lola-MG. Weaver will co-drive with Butch Leitzinger in Sunday's two-hour, 45-minute sports car race.

Frank Biela and Marco Werner will start second in the Infineon Team Joest Audi R8, with Biela turning a 1:13.753 lap at the end of the final practice session to almost beat Weaver's time. JJ Lehto and Johnny Herbert will start third in the ADT Champion Racing Audi R8.

Weaver set the fastest time in the LMP 675 class, as well as overall, while Biela's time was the fastest among LMP 900 cars. Although Weaver's speed will not count as an official American Le Mans Series pole position because an actual qualifying session was net held, he and team owner Rob Dyson were thrilled at setting the top speed of the day with the smaller, less-powerful LMP 675 car.

"Our chances are as good as everyone else," said Weaver, from England. "This is a cool car, easy to drive, with less physical effort but with serious g-forces. Our tires are exceptional; we should do well in traffic and on takeoff compared to the Audis."

"This is a big reward for the crew," said Dyson, who is fielding a two-car team of the Lola-MG machines. "Everyone pulled together. Even though it doesn't count as a pole, today we've gone faster than everybody."

Biela was one of several drivers unhappy that the qualifying session was scratched. His Audi had been fastest in the Saturday morning session and in Friday's testing. "Normally we would have gotten the pole," he said. "But none of us knew what happened to qualification."

Ron Fellows had the fastest practice time in the GTS class in the Chevrolet Corvette C5-R that he will share with Johnny O'Connell as the intense Corvette vs. Ferrari rivalry in the GTS class continues. The Corvette team is seeking revenge after losing to the Prodrive Ferrari 550 Maranello in the 24 Hours of Le Mans two weeks ago.

"We've been pretty well set up since we've been here," said Fellows, the 2002 ALMS GTS class driving champion. "It's satisfying to have the fastest speed because of who we are racing against. The Ferraris, all three of them, are very tough competitors."

The second Corvette Racing machine of Kelly Collins and Oliver Gavin will start second in the class, with the Team Olive Garden Ferrari of Mimmo Schiattarella and Emanuele Naspetti third. The two Prodrive Ferraris will be fourth and fifth in the GTS class, the top five separated by less than a second.

"I am disappointed not to be able to take part in a competitive (qualifying) session," said Tomas Enge, who co-drove with Peter Kox in Prodrive's winning Le Mans car. "We were working on different setups this afternoon, getting ready for qualifying, and now we don't have that opportunity. We are here to compete; that's what we want to do."

Danica Patrick of Roscoe, Ill., rising young American racing star, will make her American Le Mans Series debut in the second Prodrive Ferrari, co-driving with Jerome Policand. "I'm used to driving my street car in the rain since I lived in London for three years, but this is the first time I've driven this Ferrari in traffic and in the rain," said Patrick. "I had two clean laps at the end and I'm getting used to the car."

Timo Bernhard was the fastest in the GT class in the Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RS that he will share with Jorg Bergmeister, turning a lap of 1:24.323. The second Job Porsche co-driven by Lucas Luhr and Sascha Maassen was clocked at 1:24.591 and will start second in class.

"We went out right after the start of the practice session to test our race setup," said Bernhard. "I didn't know the times would count for pole. I know others are not happy, but our crew did a great job to prepare the Porsche."

Because an actual qualifying session was not held, no pole positions were earned by drivers or teams and the awarded starting spots will not count in series totals or records.

The Chevy Grand Prix of Atlanta starts at 3 p.m. (EDT) and will be televised live by CBS Sports starting at 4 p.m. The American Le Mans Series Radio Web will have live coverage online at www.americanlemans.com.

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Tomas Enge , Frank Biela , Butch Leitzinger , James Weaver , Ron Fellows , Johnny O'Connell , Sascha Maassen , Kelly Collins , Lucas Luhr , Oliver Gavin , Jörg Bergmeister , Peter Kox , Timo Bernhard , Marco Werner , Emanuele Naspetti , Jérome Policand , Alex Job , Danica Patrick , JJ Lehto
Teams Corvette Racing , Dyson Racing , Alex Job Racing