Peugeot swept the front row for Petit Le Mans powered by MAZDA 2 on Friday with Anthony Davidson taking pole position with a lap of 1:07.187 (136.098 mph) at Road Atlanta. The British pilot put his Peugeot 908 HDi ahead of Pedro Lamy in the sister car by 0.222 seconds.
Peugeot was on the front row at the start of last year’s race and won the rain-shortened event. The French diesels also finished 1-2 two weeks ago at the Silverstone 1,000 km, besting diesel rival Audi in the process. Davidson is going for his second victory of the year in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patr¢n. He teamed to win at Sebring in March with teammates Marc Gene and Alexander Wurz. The trio is back together again this week.
“It’s my first time here since 2003 where I drove a Ferrari 550. I get to go around a bit faster tomorrow,” said Davidson, who won at Silverstone with Nic Minassian. “It’s a great track to drive here in the Peugeot. It’s the first time I've ever driven it like that with low fuel and fresh tires on a very nice track. The tires came in a bit quickly with it being so hot out so my time was limited. I got a bit of tow coming down the straight so that probably helped a bit.”
It also helped that the Team Peugeot Total crew worked until the early hours Friday repairing damage from Thursday night’s practice session. Davidson tried to go around a GT car through the downhill Esses but went spinning off track and into the outside tire wall. Crew members worked throughout the night to get the Peugeot ready for Friday’s morning practice and qualifying, replacing the gearbox, engine, suspension pieces and bodywork sections.
Benoit Treluyer qualified third for Audi Sport Team Joest with a lap of 1:07.610 (135.246 mph). He will drive one of two Audi R15 TDIs with Marcel Fässler and Andre Lotterer. The trio placed second at Le Mans, a race that saw Audi sweep the overall podium over their French rivals.
This is the third straight year Audi and Peugeot have gone head-to-head at Road Atlanta.
“We’re very committed to winning this,” Davidson said. “We've been testing a lot with the 908 and working on setup for this track. We had a bitter taste left in our mouth after Le Mans so we want to really finish up strong.”
Guy Smith claimed his second pole of the season with the fastest LMP2 lap of 1:10.417 (129.855 mph) in the Mazda-powered Lola coupe that he is driving with Chris Dyson and Andy Meyrick. The British pilot, who was the overall pole-winner at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May, outpaced Muscle Milk Team CytoSport’s Klaus Graf by just 0.131 seconds.
Graf is driving the Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder with Sascha Maassen and Greg Pickett.
“It's been a difficult week with the conditions to know exactly where the car is,” said Smith, who won at Mid-Ohio in August with Dyson. “The engineers did a great job with the chassis and the Mazda guys did a great job with the engine. The race tomorrow will be typical - a 10-hour endurance race but a battle the entire way.”
David Brabham qualified third in P2 for Patr¢n Highcroft Racing at 1:10.661 (129.407 mph). He will try to clinch the Series’ LMP driver and team championship with Simon Pagenaud and Marino Franchitti. All the trio needs is to finish 70 percent of the P2 class-winner’s distance.
“We’re not in the running for the championship but we'll be looking for our second win this season and to end it on a high note,” Smith said. “I think it’s some added pressure for doing well at the two Mazda events. But it's always great to do it here. There are lots of extra people here to see the race and lots of friends.”
Oak Racing’s Pescarolo-Judd, running in full ACO spec for LMP2 cars, was fourth in class at 1:15.989 (120.333 mph).
Risi Competizione’s Jaime Melo led a dominating effort for Ferrari with a lap of 1:19.889 (114.459 mph). Now a three-time fast qualifier at Road Atlanta, Melo outpaced Gianmaria Bruni by just 0.181 seconds in the second Risi car. The F430, set to race for the final time in the Series this weekend, took the top four positions in class.
Ferrari is part of a three-way battle for the GT manufacturer championship with Porsche, who leads, and BMW. One of the Ferraris needs to win in class, Porsche to finish fifth and BMW to place fourth for the Italian marque to reclaim the championship.
“This is a good start for success tomorrow,” said Melo, who is driving with Mika Salo and Giancarlo Fisichella. “We are looking for the championship – team and manufacturer - so to have the top four spots is really good for Ferrari. It’s the last race in America (for the F430 GT), and we want to win one more for it.”
Guy Cosmo continued the strong weekend for Extreme Speed Motorsports with the third-fastest GT2 qualifying time – 1:20.165 (114.065 mph) in the Ferrari that he will drive with Ed Brown and Joao Barbosa. As has been the case all year, qualifying in the class was tight and tough. The top 10 cars were within 0.923 seconds.
“We worked really hard on race setup,” said Melo, who at Road Atlanta the last two years with Salo and Pierre Kaffer in 2009. “I’m a bit surprised to be on pole but that’s what we expect from ourselves, to start on the first or second row for the race. I’m pretty happy with this car; we're really comfortable with the setup and balance. The race is going to be really, really busy. But I’m sharing a car with Mika again and Giancarlo, so I have really good support.”
Luis Diaz won his third straight LMP Challenge pole for PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports with a lap of 1:15.296 (121.441 mph)in the ORECA FLM09 that he will drive with Ricardo Gonzalez and Ryan Lewis. Last year’s LMP2 series co-champion went 0.229 seconds quicker than Gunnar Jeannette in the Green Earth Team Gunnar entry.
“We had a difficult start to the week; we had some problems with all the rain just like everyone else,” said Diaz, who is looking for his first victory at Road Atlanta. “The rest of the teams had the chance to test last weekend, and we didn't. But in the short amount of time, the team did a great job with setup. The car is really fast and set-up great for the race.”
There is more at stake for Jeannette, who is driving with Elton Julian and Christian Zugel. He and Level 5 Motorsports’ Scott Tucker are tied for the LMPC championship lead in the driver standings, with GETG and Level 5 knotted in the team totals. The two Level 5 entries qualified fifth and sixth. Jeannette’s car though was sent to the rear of the grid following a spin that flat-spotted the tires on the GETG ORECA.
Intersport Racing’s Kyle Marcelli qualified third in class with a lap of 1:15.610 (120.936 mph). He is driving with Chapman Ducote and David Ducote.
“We saw how many red flags during the sessions during the week, so I'm expecting some surprises during the race,” Diaz said. “So we'll need to keep our head down and keep focused. This car is really good here with all the fast sectors. The car handles really well, so from Turn 1 to Turn 5 we are very, very quick.”
Jeroen Bleekemolen captured his sixth pole position in GT Challenge for Black Swan Racing with a lap of 1:25.141 (107.398 mph). He and Tim Pappas will try to wrap up the class team and driver championships Saturday, which they can do with a points-paying finish (to clinch the driving title) or third-place (for the team championship).
“It was a great qualifying for us and pretty tight,” the former Porsche Supercup and LMP2 winner at Le Mans said. “A lot of cars went out for a second time. I didn't know if the tires would still be good, but they were even better as I improved a bit on my second time out. This is definitely one of my favorite tracks now in North America. The last corner is fantastic, the first corner as well. The paddock and the atmosphere here with all the fans are great.”
The Dutch driver, who also will drive with brother Sebastian, was a scant 0.223 seconds better than Andy Lally of nearby Dacula. Lally will drive TRG’s Porsche with Duncan Ende and Henri Richard. Newcomer Magnus Racing qualified third with Andrew Davis’ lap of 1:25.482 (106.970 mph), only 0.341 seconds off the Black Swan car.
“We thought if we start out front it will be easier (to win the championship). You race hard tomorrow, but you don't try to lose it in the first corner. For sure, you have to get through the first couple of hours, if you lay back too much you probably won't finish.”
Saturday’s race is set for 11:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, October 2. SPEED will air the race starting at 11 a.m., with live radio coverage available on American Le Mans Radio presented by Porsche – a production of Radio Show Limited – as well as Sirius Channel 127 and XM Channel 242. Visit the Series’ schedule page for ticket and accommodation information. Live Timing and Scoring, track schedule, entry list and much, much more will be available on Racehub at americanlemans.com.
You can follow the Series on Twitter (almsnotes) and on our Facebook page and the official YouTube channel.
Petit Le Mans powered by MAZDA 2
Road Atlanta, Braselton, Ga.
1. Marc Gene, Barcelona (ESP); Alexander Wurz, Monte Carlo (MON); Anthony Davidson, Brackley, Northamptonshire (UK); Peugeot 908 HDI FAP (P1), 1:07.187, 136.098
2. Pedro Lamy, Lisbon (PT); Franck Montagny, Grandvaux (FR); Stephane Sarrazin, Ales (FR); Peugeot 908 HDI FAP (P1), 1:07.409, 135.650
3. Marcel Fassler, Gross (CH); Andre Lotterer, Duisburg (DE); Benoit Treluyer, Alencon (FR); Audi R15 (P1), 1:07.610, 135.246
4. Dindo Capello, Canelli (IT); Tom Kristensen, Monte Carlo (DK); Allan McNish, Monte Carlo (MC); Audi R15 (P1), 1:08.112, 134.249
5. Jon Field, Dublin, OH (US); Clint Field, Dublin, OH (US); Ben Devlin, England (ENG); Lola B06/10 AER (P1), 1:10.128, 130.390
6. Chris Dyson, Pleasant Valley, NY (US); Guy Smith, Bracken, Yorkshire (GB); Andy Meyrick, Chester (UK); Lola B09 86/Mazda (P2), 1:10.417, 129.855
7. Sascha Maassen, Lontzen (DE); Klaus Graf, Germany (DE); Lucas Luhr, Monte Carlo (DE); Porsche RS Spyder (P2), 1:10.548, 129.614
8. David Brabham, Maidenhead, GB (GB); Simon Pagenaud, Montmorrillon, FR (FR); Marino Franchitti, Edinburgh, Scotland (GB); HPD ARX-01c (P2), 1:10.661, 129.407
9. Tony Burgess, Toronto (CA); Bryan Willman, Kirkland, WA (US); Chris McMurry, Phoenix, AZ (US); Lola B06 10/AER (P1), 1:14.109, 123.386
10. Ricardo Gonzalez, Monterrey (MX); Luis Diaz, Mexico City (MX); Ryan Lewis, Indianapolis, IN (US); Oreca FLM09 (LMPC), 1:15.296, 121.441
11. Elton Julian, Santa Monica, CA (Spa); Gunnar Jeannette, Salt Lake City, UT (US); Christian Zugel, Holmdel, NJ (US); Oreca FLM09 (LMPC), 1:15.525, 121.072
12. Kyle Marcelli, Barrie, ON (CA); Chapman Ducote, Miami Beach, FL (US); David Ducote, Houston, TX (US); Oreca FLM09 (LMPC), 1:15.610, 120.936
13. Jacques Nicolet, Paris (FR); Frederic Da Rocha, Cenon (FR); Patrice Lafargue, Nantes (FR); Pescarolo P01/Judd (P2), 1:15.989, 120.333
14. Frankie Montecalvo, Highlands, NJ (US); Eric Lux, Jacksonville, FL (US); Alex Figge, Denver, CO (US); Oreca FLM09 (LMPC), 1:16.250, 119.921
15. Scott Tucker, Leawood, KS (US); Christophe Bouchut, France (FR); Mark Wilkins, Toronto, ON (CN); Oreca FLM09 (LMPC), 1:16.483, 119.556
16. Scott Tucker, Leawood, KS (US); Marco Werner, Kreuzlingen (DE); Burt Frisselle, Aspen, Colorado (USA); Oreca FLM09 (LMPC), 1:18.342, 116.719
17. Giancarlo Fisichella , Rome (IT); Jaime Melo, Milan (BR); Mika Salo, Monte Carlo (FI); Ferrari 430 GT (GT2), 1:19.889, 114.459
18. Toni Vilander, Kankaanpaa (FIN); Gianmaria Bruni, Rome, IT (Ita); Ferrari 430 GT (GT2), 1:20.070, 114.200
19. Ed Brown, Las Vegas, NV (US); Guy Cosmo, West Palm Beach, FL (US); Joao Barbosa, Portugal (POR); Ferrari 430 GT (GT2), 1:20.165, 114.065
20. Scott Sharp, Jupiter, FL (US); Johannes van Overbeek, San Francisco, CA (US); Dominik Farnbacher, Ansbach (DE); Ferrari 430 GT (GT2), 1:20.185, 114.036
21. Dirk Mueller, Monte Carlo, Monaco (DE); Joey Hand, Sacramento, CA (US); Andy Priaulx, Guernsey (GB); BMW E92 M3 (GT2), 1:20.322, 113.842
22. Jan Magnussen, Roskilde (DK); Oliver Gavin, Yardley Hastings, GB (GB); Emmanuel Collard, Paris (FR); Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 (GT2), 1:20.598, 113.452
23. Olivier Beretta, Monte Carlo (MC); Johnny O`Connell, Flowery Branch, GA (US); Antonio Garcia, Barcelona (ES); Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 (GT2), 1:20.675, 113.344
24. Joerg Bergmeister, Langenfield, DE (DE); Patrick Long, Bellaire, FL (US); Marc Lieb, Ludwigsburg (DE); Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GT2), 1:20.768, 113.213
25. David Murry, Atlanta, GA (US); Rob Bell, Northamptonshire (GB); Anthony Lazzaro, Atlanta, GA (US); Doran Design Ford GT (GT2), 1:20.777, 113.201
26. Bill Auberlen, Redondo Beach, CA (US); Tommy Milner, Leesburg, VA (US); Dirk Werner, Kissenbrück (DE); BMW E92 M3 (GT2), 1:20.812, 113.152
27. Bryan Sellers, Braselton, GA (US); Martin Ragginger, Austria (AUT); Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GT2), 1:21.560, 112.114
28. David Robertson, Ray, MI (US); Craig Stanton, Long Beach, CA (US); Andrea Robertson, Ray, MI (US); Doran Design Ford GT (GT2), 1:21.619, 112.033
29. Andrew Prendeville, Chatham, NJ (USA); Harri Toivonen, Helsinki Finland; Peter Dempsey, Dublin (IRE); Radical SR9/IES (P2), 1:21.820, 111.758
30. Marc Goossens, Huntersville, NC (Bel); Ryan Dalziel, Orlando, FL (Sco); Paul Gentilozzi, Lansing, MI (USA); Jaguar XKRS (GT2), 1:22.898, 110.304
31. Darren Law, Phoenix, AZ (US); Seth Neiman, Burlingame, CA (US); Marco Holzer, Lochau (AUS); Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GT2), 1:24.887, 107.720
32. Tim Pappas, Boston, MA (US); Jeroen Bleekemolen, Monte Carlo, Monaco (Net); Sebastian Bleekemolen, Haarlem (The); Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (GTC), 1:25.141, 107.398
33. Henri Richard, Los Altos Hills, CA (FR); Andy Lally, New York, NY (USA); Duncan Ende, Los Angeles, CA (USA); Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (GTC), 1:25.364, 107.118
34. John Potter, Salt Lake City, UT (US); Andrew Davis, Lilburn, GA (USA); Ryan Eversley, Winder, GA (USA); Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (GTC), 1:25.482, 106.970
35. Shane Lewis, Jupiter, FL (US); Lawson Aschenbach, West Palm Beach, FL (US); Jerry Vento, West Palm Beach, FL (US); Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (GTC), 1:25.746, 106.641
36. Bill Sweedler, Westport, CT (US); Romeo Kapudija, South Barringon, IL (US); Jan-Dirk Lueders, Barrington Hills, IL (US); Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (GTC), 1:26.300, 105.956
37. Robert Rodriguez, Zephyr Cove, NY (USA); Galen Bieker, Burbank, CA (US); Kris Wilson, Huntington Beach, CA (US); Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (GTC), 1:26.628, 105.555
38. Bryce Miller, Summit, NJ (US); Luke Hines, Essex (Eng); Pierre Ehret, Tegernsee (DE); Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (GTC), 1:26.874, 105.256
39. Loren Beggs, Montclair, CA (US); Doug Baron, Pacific Palisades, CA (US); Rene Villeneuve, Woodland Hills, CA (US); Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (GTC), 1:27.713, 104.249
40. Paul Drayson, London, GB (GB); Jonny Cocker, Guisborough, GB (GB); Emanuele Pirro, Monte Carlo (IT); Lola B09 60/Judd (P1), No Time,
41. Brandon Davis, Henderson, NV (US); Boris Said, San Diego, CA (US); Townsend Bell, Santa Monica, CA (US); Doran Design Ford GT (GT2), No Time
42. Andy Wallace, England (ENG); Butch Leitzinger, Rebersburg, PA (US); Tomy Drissi, Los Angeles, CA (US); Jaguar XKRS (GT2), No Time
43. Ian James, Phoenix, AZ (GB); Benjamin Leuenberger, Switzerland; Panoz Abruzzi (GT2), 0, 0
44. Antonio Downs, Minneapolis, MN (USA); Lucas Downs, North Mankato, MN (USA); Matt Downs, North Mankato, MN (USA); Oreca FLM09 (LMPC), No Time
45. Timo Bernhard, Dittweiler (DE); Romain Dumas, Ales (FR); Mike Rockenfeller, Monte Carlo (DE); Porsche 911 GT3R Hybrid (GTH), No Time.