American Le Mans Teams Complete Three-Day Road Atlanta Test; Petit Le Mans Track Action Starts Wednesday Braselton, GA - American Le Mans Series racing teams concluded three days of private testing Sunday at Road Atlanta in preparation for the...
American Le Mans Teams Complete Three-Day Road Atlanta Test; Petit Le Mans Track Action Starts Wednesday
Braselton, GA - American Le Mans Series racing teams concluded three days of private testing Sunday at Road Atlanta in preparation for the Sept. 22-25 Chevy presents Petit Le Mans, one of the world's most prestigious sports car races.
Twenty ALMS cars were in the Road Atlanta paddock over the three days of testing and most of them made laps on the 2.54-mile circuit on at least one of the three days. Road Atlanta will hold another test day for ALMS cars on Wednesday, and official practice for the event begins Thursday.
Chevy presents Petit Le Mans is one of two long-distance endurance races on the schedule of the American Le Mans Series, a series of North American professional sports car races based on the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Petit Le Mans, which starts at 12 noon on Saturday, is a race covering 1,000 miles or 10 hours, whichever comes first.
ALMS teams have been extremely busy over the summer months, with the ALMS calendar consisting of five races in seven weeks during one stretch of June, July and August. As a result, most teams have had no time to test, and welcomed the three days at Road Atlanta.
"This is the first time we've tested in a long time," said Alex Job, owner of Alex Job Racing which fields two Porsche 911 GT3 RSR machines in the GT class. "We came here with a long list of things we wanted to do in the test, and we've been able to do a good portion of what we wanted."
Teams lost part of Friday morning due to heavy overnight and morning rains from the remnants of Hurricane Ivan passing through the Atlanta area, but had sunny skies and mild temperatures Friday afternoon and both Saturday and Sunday.
"We were very fortunate that the weather changed," said Job. "So we really had about two and a half good days of testing."
The Job team also had to deal with a wrecked race car after driver Romain Dumas slid off the track in turn seven early Sunday morning. The car was already gone from the Road Atlanta paddock within a few hours of the accident and was undergoing repairs off site.
"Unfortunately we damaged the #24 car," said Job. "We weren't able to complete everything we wanted to do. But that car will hopefully be repaired in time to have it on the track on Wednesday."
Also making many laps over the weekend was the Intersport Racing Lola B01/60-Judd Prototype of Jon Field and Duncan Dayton. The team, which has had a trying season, had its best finish of the year, second, in the most recent ALMS event at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis.
"We're just working on going faster," said Field. "And we're trying to have fun again in the car. It was fun to be able to get back in the fight a bit again at Elkhart Lake."
The Intersport team has enjoyed good success at Road Atlanta, scoring LMP2 class wins in the past two runnings of the Petit Le Mans as well as in the 2003 Chevy Grand Prix of Atlanta. Off-season rule changes in the ALMS moved the Lola-Judd up to the LMP1 class, where it now competes for the overall race win.
"This car is pretty good here," said Field. "Even if your settings are off, you can still drive it.
"We're a little behind the AER engine, especially in torque, because the AER has so much more torque than the Judd," he said. "We have power, but the turbo on the AER makes a difference.
"But this race is all about reliability," he said. "It's a long race and the Judd is very reliable."
Field and Dayton will be joined by Mike Durand as a third driver because of the length of the Petit Le Mans. The second Intersport entry, a Lola B2K/40-Judd that competes in the LMP2 class, will be driven by Clint Field, Robin Liddell and Milka Duno. Clint Field was on hand at Road Atlanta testing the smaller Prototype over the weekend.
Other Prototype teams that participated in the test included the two Lola B01/60-AER LMP1 cars of Dyson Racing, as well as the LMP2 class Courage C65-AER of Miracle Motorsports. Miracle also had its Lola B2K/40-AER that will be used by Team Bucknum Racing on hand, but the car did not run due to mechanical problems.
GTS class cars that participated in the test included the two Krohn-Barbour Racing Lamborghini Murcielago R-GT entries and the ACEMCO Motorsports Saleen S7R. The Saleen was damaged in an accident late Sunday afternoon.
Ten cars from the GT class participated in the testing session. In addition to the two Job cars, also running were the two Porsches of Flying Lizard Motorsports and the single Porsche entry of BAM! The Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Porsche was present in the Road Atlanta paddock.
Foxhill Racing/Comprent Motor Sports, an Atlanta-based team that will make its ALMS debut in the Petit Le Mans, was testing on Sunday, while also running was the Ferrari 360 Modena GTC of Risi Competizione.
The two entries of Cirtek Motorsports from England, a Ferrari 360 Modena GTC and a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, arrived at the track late Saturday and tested on Sunday, The Panoz Esperante GT-LM of Panoz Motor Sports was also a participant.
Chevy presents Petit Le Mans will get the green flag at 12 noon (Eastern) on Saturday, September 25. The race will cover 1,000 miles, or 10 hours, whichever comes first on the 2.54-mile, 12-turn Road Atlanta circuit. Qualifying will be held on Friday, Sept. 24, along with an ALMS Fan Forum and an open paddock autograph session featuring all ALMS drivers. ALMS cars will also practice on Wednesday and Thursday of race week.
The race will be televised live in North America by the SPEED Channel and in Europe by MotorsTV. American Le Mans Series Radio will have live coverage of qualifying and the race that can be heard online at www.americanlemans.com.
Ticket information for the event is available online at www.americanlemans.com or by calling the Road Atlanta ticket office at (800) 849-RACE.