Road Atlanta: Doran makes driver substitute

Driver change for Doran-Lista Racing; van de Poele to substitute for Lienhard Sr. due to latter's business commitments. BRASELTON, Ga., June 27 - In a very late development, Eric van de Poele of St. Jean-Geest, Belgium will substitute for Fredy...

Driver change for Doran-Lista Racing; van de Poele to substitute for Lienhard Sr. due to latter's business commitments.

BRASELTON, Ga., June 27 - In a very late development, Eric van de Poele of St. Jean-Geest, Belgium will substitute for Fredy Lienhard Sr. of Niederteufen, Switzerland this weekend behind the wheel of the Doran-Lista Dallara MG #27 at the Chevy Grand Prix of Atlanta at Road Atlanta Motorsports Park.

Lienhard Sr. is in America this weekend, but he is in the Boston area hard at work at meetings for the company he owns, Lista, the world leader in the manufacture and distribution of modular storage systems, and just couldn't get away for this race.

Lienhard Sr. hopes to resume his driving duties at the next ALMS race, the Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. on July 27.

This development gives the Doran-Lista Dallara MG #27 an all-Belgium squad of drivers here at Road Atlanta, as lead driver Didier Theys was born in Nivelles, Belgium.

"I'm very glad to be here," said van de Poele, who along with Theys and Lienhard Sr. helped the team finish seventh in class and overall at the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring in March. "It's a great opportunity."

In Friday's test session at Road Atlanta, the team ended up fourth in the LMP 900 class and sixth overall out of 35 cars that recorded lap times. Both Theys and van de Poele were in the car Friday, and together they turned 42 laps. The fastest one was lap 40, when van de Poele was clocked at an average speed of 122.528 mph around the demanding, 12-turn, 2.54-mile road course.

"The car was very good out of the box," Theys said at the end of the day. "Kevin and the team came here very prepared and well organized; not only the car, but also the rest of the equipment.

"We had a little bit of understeer today, but we think we can fix that for tomorrow," he continued. "With the heat and humidity here, the track was very slippery, but that is the same for everybody. I'm looking forward to a good race."

"The car is comfortable already," van de Poele concurred. "I think the car and the team are fantastic. The car is very easy to drive. I am really looking forward to doing well in the race."

van de Poele, a former Formula 1 driver, has many endurance sports car victories, including two overall at Sebring. He also has an overall victory in the Grand Prix at Road Atlanta presented by Lease Plan on April 18, 1999 in a Riley & Scott Mk III Judd. Ironically, the car that finished second to van de Poele and Domenico Schiattarella that day was the Doran-Lista Ferrari 333 SP driven by Theys and Mauro Baldi.

Like Sunday's race, the time allotment for the April 1999 race at Road Atlanta was two hours and 45 minutes, and by virtue of their victory here four years ago van de Poele and Schiattarella hold several records here for events of that length: the fastest winning speed (110.073 mph); the smallest margin of victory (24.347 seconds); and most laps completed by the winner (120).

What's more, van de Poele started at the rear in that race. "It was an amazing race," he recalled. "Road Atlanta is the racetrack where I have had most success at in America."

Until this year, that race marked the only overall privateer victory in the ALMS, too.

van de Poele also has an overall victory at the Petit Le Mans here at Road Atlanta in a Ferrari in 1998.

van de Poele won his class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1998, 2001 and 2002. He has driven more than 50 different race cars on more than 75 racetracks around the world.

Qualifying will be held tomorrow at 3:40 p.m. after two hours of practice at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Sunday's race will be broadcast live on CBS from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time. Highlights will be shown on EuroSport at 20:00 Central European Time on July 13.

For more information, see www.lista.com, www.doranracing.com, www.americanlemans.com, www.imsaracing.net, www.roadatlanta.com and www.restartcommunications.com.

-dl/lm- For more information:

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Series ALMS
Drivers Didier Theys , Eric van de Poele , Fredy Lienhard , Mauro Baldi , Domenico Schiattarella