Road Atlanta II: The Racer's Group Wednesday test notes

The Racer's Group announced its driver lineup for the 6th annual Petit Le Mans today, with a combination of experienced road and rally drivers making up the weekend's squad. As announced last week, young American Porsche Juniors star Patrick Long...

The Racer's Group announced its driver lineup for the 6th annual Petit Le Mans today, with a combination of experienced road and rally drivers making up the weekend's squad. As announced last week, young American Porsche Juniors star Patrick Long will team with Cort Wagner and Kevin Buckler in the #66 car. Pierre Ehret, who has driven the #67 car for the bulk of the ALMS season, will move over to the #68 car, to team with TRG regulars Chris Gleason and Marc Bunting. In car #67, 6-time Pikes Peak Hill Climb champion Jeff Zwart returns for his second race this season with TRG. He will be joined by Tom Nastasi, of Stamford, CT and David Donner, of Colorado Springs, CO. Nastasi won the 2003 Formula Atlanta Southeast Division championship, and ran the Rolex 24 at Daytona with The Racer's Group.

Patrick Long, the Porsche Juniors star, turned his first laps in the ALMS today, and commented on the steep learning curve ahead of him. "I'm here to learn this weekend, and I certainly will, because everything's new. This is a different style car and race for me -- everything from the non-ABS brakes to the endurance format are new to me. In Carrera and Supercup, we run short sprint races, so my first stint at Petit will be more than twice as long as a Cup race. It's a big challenge for me to get used to everything here, and I'm learning to put myself in a different mindset. I'm not accustomed to having to worry too much about the health of the equipment -- in the Cup races it's a door-to-door, flat out sprint war -- and in endurance racing, it's much more important to conserve the car."

Tom Nastasi was excited about the upcoming race. "I'm grateful to Kevin and the team for the opportunity to race this weekend. It's great to be back in a Porsche, and I expect that we'll be very fast all weekend."

In the first test session of the Petit Le Mans weekend, all three cars ran well, as the drivers acclimatized to the cool conditions and traffic. The session was trouble-free for all three blue and yellow Porsches, as the team watched times steadily declined. Jeff Zwart, 6-time champion of the Pikes Peak Hill Climb, shared his thoughts on getting back in his car. "After the intensity and stress of driving on the streets of Miami, it was great to be back on a true road course today. The car is feeling fantastic, and I spent most of my stint in the car learning to cope with the traffic. Even though it's much more spread out here than it was at Miami, the closing speeds between the GT cars and the Prototypes make it a very exciting experience. I have to look way back in the mirrors to see what's coming up behind me, but thankfully, my mind isn't on the grip levels. Here, the surface is uniform, so I have a lot of confidence in the traction of the car."

Team owner Kevin Buckler talked about the day's events. "Everyone did a nice job today, learning and tweaking the cars -- the drivers, crew and cars performed really well today, which made for a great first stint. We're going to work on our setup tonight, and will be ready to rock tomorrow."

The 6th annual ALMS Petit Le Mans will be run Saturday, October 18, for 10 Hours of 1000km, whichever occurs first. The race will be broadcast live on Speed Channel at 11:00am on the 18th.

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Series ALMS
Drivers Kevin Buckler , Pierre Ehret , Tom Nastasi , Patrick Long , Chris Gleason , Marc Bunting , Jeff Zwart , Cort Wagner