Road Atlanta: Libra Racing practice 2 report

Libra Racing Swaps Engine in Time for Afternoon Practice Libra Racing overcame yet another mechanical failure just in time to run all three drivers in today's afternoon practice session at Road Atlanta in preparation for Saturday's 13th Annual...

Libra Racing Swaps Engine in Time for Afternoon Practice

Libra Racing overcame yet another mechanical failure just in time to run all three drivers in today's afternoon practice session at Road Atlanta in preparation for Saturday's 13th Annual Petit Le Mans.

An engine failure earlier in the week meant that another IES-tuned Nissan V8 engine would have to be flown out from England. It arrived around 9pm last night, and mechanics worked through the night on the install. After catching a couple hours sleep, they were back at work in the morning installing the engine management components, which were also flown from England. These parts arrived early in the morning following a cancelled flight the night before. The items still needed to clear customs and get to the track, located about 50 miles from the Atlanta airport.

Although the team missed the morning practice session, they were at last ready for afternoon practice. The lead driver, Andrew Prendeville, was in the car. He flipped the ignition switch and fired up the engine.

And then the throttle cable broke. And it started raining.

Libra's mechanics threw off the bodywork and Andrew ejected. After several hurried minutes, the car was out of the paddock, and into the pits for rain tires.

Prendeville ran a few in and out laps on the wet track to check the systems of the new motor. He deferred to Sportscar newcomer Peter Dempsey, who ran an out-lap and an in-lap to familiarize himself with the car. Harri Toivonen then took over for the final seven minutes.

The drivers' impressions of the car's wet weather handling is detailed in selected quotes below. Ian Dawson also gives his impression of their performance.

Harri Toivonen, Driver

"I was just driving very carefully, but the car feels very balanced, very safe to drive. We have a brand new engine, I think it was still in safe mode, so we didn't get everything from the engine, but that's good. It wasn't too bad timewise. I could go much quicker but I didn't want to take any risks b/c we have to get the car first to the race, and then finish the race. In practice it would be stupid to take any risks and do any special times. [I Was] just cruising, and even with the cruising times, we were still there on a good pace. I'm happy and I'm looking forward [to the race].

"If we finish [the race] we have a good chance to be in the top 3 in class and that is what we need because then we get automatically entry to Le Mans, and that's our goal."

Peter Dempsey, Driver

"I just got out and did an out-lap and an in-lap basically. The car ran well; I raced here a few times before but this is my first opportunity to get into a LMP2 car with the team, so it's nice just to familiarize myself with the track and the feel of the car, and to kind of get used to doing some pitstops because I've never done that before.

"The size is a lot bigger and you're sitting off to the right side in this car. Formula Mazda will be a bit more nimble and true to corners and changing direction. Obviously I've never used carbon brakes or power steering before so there's quite a lot to learn in the short time that I have. Hopefully we'll get some good running in night practice and we'll go from there."

Andrew Prendeville, Driver

"We had to do a motor change last night so something wasn't quite right to go on track, so we took a little bit more time to get that right, but we still got out and did a couple laps. It was good. I was the first one in the car so it was more systems checks because of the new motor and just wanted to make sure everything as right. I was being extra cautious with the motor to make sure we start off right so we can run this one through the weekend. Just nice and easy on the throttle and keep it low on the revs.

"It felt good actually [in the rain]. There was a lot more grip than I was expecting. It was the first time I'd driven this car in the wet. The set up on this car has been very good through testing. Last time [on this track] was about 6 years ago in an F2000 car. First time here in a sportscar. I'm glad to be back. Road Atlanta is an awesome track. Should be fun once it dries out, too."

Ian Dawson, Team Principle

"I was pleased we got all three into the car. Obviously we didn't really reed the rain with the late engine change. We just got a good round in now and make sure we run the night practice and we can move on. We got everything functioning well again and the problem we had with the hard drive in the laptop going down knocked out our dash but now everything's functional again. All the drivers said the car feels really nice in the wet; it brakes well. It's good. We are looking forward to the next session.

"We're going to make sure each driver does 3 timed laps, so They're going to do 5 laps each. We'll get that achieved and then see if we maybe need to do another run with one of them. And then I think we'll just call it a day. It was a late night last night and we'll get everybody fresh for tomorrow. We've still got another practice and qualifying and we'll get into race mode then."

-source: libra racing

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Andrew Prendeville , Harri Toivonen , Peter Dempsey