Road Atlanta: Saturday qualifying report

DYSON ON POLE, GT CARS SET CLASS RECORDS AT SPORTSBOOK.COM GRAND PRIX OF ATLANTA Braselton, Ga. - A record setting day in two GT classes and strong prototype performances highlighted qualifying Saturday for the Sportsbook.com Grand Prix of ...

DYSON ON POLE, GT CARS SET CLASS RECORDS AT SPORTSBOOK.COM GRAND PRIX OF ATLANTA

Braselton, Ga. - A record setting day in two GT classes and strong prototype performances highlighted qualifying Saturday for the Sportsbook.com Grand Prix of Atlanta, Round 2 of the American Le Mans Series.

James Weaver captured the pole for Sunday's race with a lap of 1:11.241 in the No. 16 Dyson Racing Lola EX257 AER. It was Weaver's 12th career pole and his second straight at Road Atlanta. He posted the fastest qualifying lap for last year's Petit Le Mans but was nearly a second faster Saturday. Weaver will share the seat with Butch Leitzinger on Sunday.

"Our car works best with the right ride height. Tracks like here, Road America and Infineon are where we are best set up for the fast corners," Weaver said.

Champion Racing's two Audi R8s will start second and third overall. The No. 1 of Marco Werner and JJ Lehto will start second, the No. 2 of Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro will start third.

In LMP2, the No. 37 Telesis Intersport Racing Lola B05/40 of Jon Field posted a lap of 1:12.678 to start first in class and fifth, overall. Field, who will team with son, Clint, in Sunday's race, won his sixth career pole. The No. 10 Miracle Motorsports Courage C65 was second in class and sixth overall.

"My qualifying run was good, but we were hoping to get a little more out of the car," Jon Field said. "We would have liked to have been in the middle of P1s, or even faster. But I'm excited for the race tomorrow and hope to have a good day."

In GT1, Johnny O'Connell picked up his first career ALMS pole, a remarkable achievement for the resident of nearby Flowery Branch, Georgia. What's more, O'Connell did it in style, shattering the track's qualifying class record with a lap of 1:17.034 in the new No. 3 Corvette Racing C6-R he will share with Ron Fellows.

"We show up here, and, yes, it's a brand new race car, but it's close to how we're going to race it," O'Connell said. "So for the guys, this is a good one. We've got as nice a race car as we've had. The fact that it's seven miles from my house is even better."

In fact, the top five GT1 cars broke the record previously held by Fellows, a 1:18.632 effort in qualifying for the Petit Le Mans. The No. 4 Corvette Racing C6-R of Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin will start second in class.

Bill Auberlen gave Road Atlanta-based Panoz Motor Sports its first pole in its Esperante GTLM. Auberlen turned a fast lap of 1:21.647 in the No. 50 entry he'll pilot with Robin Liddell. Like in GT1, multiple cars broke Road Atlanta's class qualifying record for GT2, which was held by JJ Lehto. Currently in the No. 1 Champion Audi, Lehto set the mark of 1:22.604 in a BMW M3 GTR for the 2001 Petit Le Mans.

The No. 31 Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Porsche 911 GT3 will start second in class Sunday.

"I don't have a German accent, so I apologize that we're in an American car," Auberlen said. "We were close at Sebring to being quickest all the time. The car just keeps getting faster and faster. Looking for more knobs to turn because it responds so well. To be such a small company like Panoz and beat such a big competitor like Porsche, it's something all those guys can smile about.".

The Sportsbook.com Grand Prix of Atlanta is scheduled to start at noon EDT April 17. It will be broadcast on CBS from 1-3 p.m., and American Le Mans Series Radio will have live flag-to-flag coverage at www.americanlemans.com.

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Butch Leitzinger , James Weaver , Ron Fellows , Johnny O'Connell , Robin Liddell , Bill Auberlen , Jon Field , Oliver Gavin , Marco Werner , Olivier Beretta , Emanuele Pirro , JJ Lehto
Teams Corvette Racing , Dyson Racing