With a dream result, the qualifying for the penultimate round of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) concluded on the Road Atlanta track. Three Penske Racing Porsche RS Spyder prototypes occupied positions one, two and three in the LMP2 class, securing an optimal starting position in the gripping fight for the title. The quickest pilot to lap the roller coaster circuit on the outskirts of Atlanta in his 503 hp sports prototype was Ryan Briscoe (Australia), followed by Romain Dumas (France) just 88-thousandths of a second slower. The third fastest time was achieved by Sascha Maassen (Germany) in the last minute, relegating the best Acura to fourth position.
‘It’s quite rare to drive a perfect lap. But today I’d be hard pushed to say what I could have done better,’ said a delighted Briscoe about the fastest ever LMP2 time on the Road Atlanta circuit. ‘The RS Spyder was consistently fast in all practice sessions. This gives me a great feeling for the race.’
Romain Dumas didn’t push particularly hard in the fight for top times in the final minutes. ‘When we realised that the Acura wasn’t matching our speed we saved our tyres for the race,’ explained the Frenchman. ‘Of course, I would have loved to have set the quickest time but we still have an excellent starting position for tomorrow’s race.’
Sascha Maassen was also satisifed with his lap: ‘In practice we didn’t get much driving in. During qualifying we made some changes to the set-up. This worked perfectly. Even more important than a good starting position is to know we have a fast car for the race.’ The two RS Spyder of the Porsche-supported US privateer team, Dyson Racing, secured positions eight and nine.
In the GT2 class for slightly modified standard sports cars as well, Porsche teams fought for top grid positions. Dirk Werner (Germany) claimed the second quickest time in the GT3 RSR of Farnbacher Loles Racing. Points’ leader Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) took fourth in his Flying Lizard Motorsports 911 GT3 RSR. Johannes van Overbeek (USA) and Patrick Pilet (France) could not take part in qualifying due to an accident in free practice and have to start tomorrow’s race from the back of the field.
Porsche’s head of motorsport, Hartmut Kristen, was extremely pleased with the qualifying results. ‘We couldn’t have wished for better grid positions. All three drivers and the whole Penske Racing team have put in a tremendous effort. In the GT2 class we are not at the absolute front but very close to the quickest Ferrari. The race tomorrow is certainly going to be very close and very exciting.’
The Petit Le Mans takes off on Saturday, 4th October, at 11.15 hours local time (17.15 hrs CEST) and runs over 1,000 miles with a maximum duration of ten hours.
1. Stephane Sarazin (F), Peugeot 908 (LMP1), 1:06.242 minutes
2. Allan McNish (GB), Audi R10 (LMP1), 0.085 seconds behind
3. Marco Werner (D), Audi R10 (LMP1), 0.576
4. Ryan Briscoe (AUS), Porsche RS Spyder (LMP2), 0.819
5. Romain Dumas (F), Porsche RS Spyder (LMP2), 0.907
6. Sascha Maassen (D), Porsche RS Spyder (LMP2), 1.159
7. Franck Montagny (F), Acura ARX-01B (LMP2), 1.244
8. Simon Pagenaud (F), Acura ARX-01B (LMP2), 1.414
9. Olivier Pla (F), Ginetta-Zytek 07S (LMP1), 1.418
10. Jon Field (USA), Lola B06/10 (LMP1), 1.542