Timo Bernhard (Germany), Romain Dumas (France) and Patrick Long (USA) start the Petit Le Mans race, the eleventh round of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) on the Road Atlanta circuit, from the first row. In a qualifying packed with suspense to the last minute, Dumas posted the fastest time in the LMP2 class at the wheel of his RS Spyder. In the overall classification the points leader was only beaten to pole position by Marco Werner in an Audi R10 which is more than 200hp stronger and has a considerably better power-to-weight ratio. Only 13-hundredths of a second separated the two quickest qualifiers on the 4.1 kilometre circuit. Second fastest in the LMP2 class was Ryan Briscoe (Australia) in the sister car fielded by Penske Racing. Briscoe takes up the race with Sascha Maassen (Germany) and Emmanuel Collard (France) from fourth position on the grid.
“I’m very pleased to start between the two Audis. That is more than we had expected here on this track with its long downhill straight,” enthused Romain Dumas. “We found a good set-up for our car. That makes me optimistic for the race tomorrow.”
Ryan Briscoe was hampered by a not so optimal set-up. After continuous rain during the morning, the circuit’s grip conditions changed considerably compared to the practice session from the previous day. “At the beginning I had a strong understeer problem. In the pits we made a few modifications to the vehicle. Afterwards the car ran excellently, but the tyres were then too old to turn a top time.” analysed the Australian.
The fifth fastest qualifying time in the LMP2 class was achieved by Butch Leitzinger (USA) from the US privateer Dyson Racing team. He shares the cockpit of the Weissach-developed and built #16 RS Spyder with Andy Wallace (Great Britain) and Andy Lally (USA). Chris Dyson (USA) and Guy Smith (Great Britain) claimed the eighth quickest qualifying time in their class with the #20 RS Spyder.
“The qualifying ran much better than expected. Road Atlanta is a circuit that suits the more powerful LMP1 cars. The gap of just 0.133 seconds to the pole-setters just goes to show to what extent Romain Dumas was driving at the limit,” said Hartmut Kristen, head of motorsport at Porsche. “The ones who are in the lead tomorrow over the distance of 1000 miles will be those who spend the least time in the pits and have developed the best strategy.”
In the GT2 class for modified production sportscars, Joerg Bergmeister (Germany), Johannes van Overbeek (USA) and Marc Lieb (Germany) secured third with their Porsche GT3 RSR run by Flying Lizard Motorsports.
The Petit Le Mans race starts on Saturday, 6th October 2007, at 11.15am local time (5.15 pm CET) and runs over 1,000 miles or a maximum duration of ten hours.
1. Marco Werner (D), Audi R10 (LMP1), 1:08.906 minutes
2. Romain Dumas (F), Porsche RS Spyder (LMP2), 0.133 seconds behind
3. Rinaldo Capello (I), Audi R10 (LMP1), 0.460
4. Ryan Briscoe (AUS), Porsche RS Spyder (LMP2), 0.556
5. David Brabham (AUS), Acura ARX (LMP2), 1.094
6. Bryan Herta (USA), Acura ARX (LMP2), 1.317
7. Butch Leitzinger (USA), Porsche RS Spyder (LMP2), 1.593
8. Luis Diaz (MEX), Acura ARX (LMP2), 1.807
9. John Field (USA), Lola B06/10 Judd (LMP1), 2.067
10. Klaus Graf (D), Lola B06 AER (LMP1), 2.125