AUDI, McNISH OUT FRONT FIRST IN WEDNESDAY TESTING Audi Sport struck first in the rematch of diesel powers at Road Atlanta with the fastest time in Wednesday's two-hour test session for the 12th annual Petit Le Mans powered by...
AUDI, McNISH OUT FRONT FIRST IN WEDNESDAY TESTING
Audi Sport struck first in the rematch of diesel powers at Road Atlanta with the fastest time in Wednesday's two-hour test session for the 12th annual Petit Le Mans powered by MAZDA6. Allan McNish, defending race winner with teammate Dindo Capello, put in a quick lap of 1:08.308 (133.864 mph) in the pairing's Audi R15 TDI. McNish and Capello won Petit Le Mans the last three years in an Audi R10 TDI prototype.
This is the first race at Road Atlanta for the new R15 and only the car's third race this year. It debuted with an overall victory in the American Le Mans Series' season opener - the 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida. Audi bested both Peugeot and Acura then, and the trio of manufacturers lead an impressive 11-car field in the LMP1 class.
McNish was 0.169 seconds better than Peugeot's Stephane Sarrazin in the first of two Peugeot 908s. Sarrazin will drive with Franck Montagny.
"It was nice to be in a session with other cars," said McNish, alluding to Audi's 2009 program that has featured more testing than racing. "The R15 TDI was pretty good. It's still not ideal with the circuit being so green after all the rain this past weekend. But we're somewhere in the ballpark. The configuration of the car is very much the same as Le Mans, and that wasn't much different from Sebring. But there is continual room for improvement."
The top five saw the two Audis and two Peugeots with de Ferran Motorsports' XM Acura ARX-02a in the middle. Simon Pagenaud was third quickest overall in the E10-powered prototype he will drive with team owner/full season teammate Gil de Ferran and Scott Dixon. Pagenaud's best lap was a 1:09.137 (132.259 mph).
In LMP2, Dyson Racing's Marino Franchitti went quickest in the Mazda- powered Lola B09/86 coupe that he will share with Butch Leitzinger and Ben Devlin. Franchitti turned in a best lap of 1:11.624 (127.667 mph) for a 0.333-second advantage over Klaus Graf in the Team Cytosport Porsche RS Spyder. Graf is driving with team owner Greg Pickett and Porsche factory driver Sascha Maassen.
Franchitti has won the two most recent LMP2 pole positions and won at Lime Rock with Leitzinger for Dyson's first win with the Lola-Mazda.
Chris Dyson was third in class in the second Dyson prototype with a lap of 1:12.685 (125.803 mph). He will drive with Guy Smith.
BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team continued its strong run in GT2 that began at Lime Rock. Bill Auberlen was the quickest driver in class with a lap of 1:21.574 (112.095 mph) in the BMW M3 that he is driving with Joey Hand and Andy Priaulx. Auberlen and Hand were class winners this year at Road America, and the M3s have been on pole position the last two rounds of the Series.
Jörg Müller was second quickest in the sister BMW that he will drive with Dirk Müller and Tommy Milner. Jörg Müller, the 2001 GT champion, set a best time of 1:21.798 (111.788 mph).
Corvette Racing's Jan Magnussen was third quickest in class with a lap of 1:22.056 (111.436 mph). He won the previous Series round at Mosport with Johnny O'Connell (the team's first in GT2), and they will drive this week with Antonio Garcia. The trio were winners at Sebring and Le Mans this year in GT1.
The top six cars in GT2 were within 0.728 seconds.
Thursday's first official practice session is scheduled for 10:05 a.m. ET.
The 12th annual Petit Le Mans powered by MAZDA6 on Saturday, September 26 is the American Le Mans Series' cornerstone event at Road Atlanta in Braselton Ga. The green flag for the 1,000-mile/10-hour endurance classic is scheduled for 11:15 a.m. ET with SPEED airing live television coverage starting at 11 a.m. ET ... rain or shine! American Le Mans Radio presented by Porsche and Living Timing & Scoring will be available on Racehub at americanlemans.com. Live coverage also can be heard on Sirius 126 and XM 242. You can follow the Series on Twitter (almsnotes) and on our Facebook page.
The race will also mark the ninth round of the 2009 MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge. Tickets are available at americanlemans.com and roadatlanta.com.