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Penske team fastest overall on Thursday
The first Thursday afternoon test in the history of the Long Beach street circuit has set the stage for what looks to be a close and competitive race for the Tequila Patr¢n American Le Mans Series at Long Beach. Penske Racing’s No. 6 Porsche RS Spyder let a trio of LMP2 cars to the top of the timing charts after nearly two hours of testing around the famed venue.

American factory driver Patrick Long’s time of 1:12.986 (97.071 mph) was quickest in preparation for the third round of the 2008 season. Long is teaming with Sascha Maassen, who finished second overall and in class at Long Beach last season with Ryan Briscoe. The top six cars at the end of the session was within 0.765 seconds of each other.

Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz were second overall, just 0.113 seconds behind Maassen, in the Lowe’s Fernandez Racing Acura ARX-01b, the best of the Acura contingent. Third was Andretti Green Racing at 1:13.261 (96.706 mph); Bryan Herta and Christian Fittipaldi will share duties in the Acura ARX-01b.

Marco Werner was fastest in LMP1 and fourth overall in Audi Sport North America’s No. 2 Audi R10 TDI. Werner toured the track in 1:13.388 (96.539 mph), two weeks after winning overall at St. Petersburg with Lucas Luhr. The second Audi of Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro was second in class but eighth overall at 1:14.586 (94.988 mph).

Johnny O’Connell went fastest in GT1 in the No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C6.R that he will share with Jan Magnussen. O’Connell’s 1:17.524 (91.388 mph) was 0.605 seconds ahead of the No. 4 sister Corvette of Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin, defending race winners in class.

As at St. Petersburg, the two Corvettes are competing on cellulosic E85.

Tafel Racing continued where it left off following its GT2 victory at St. Petersburg with the fastest time in class Thursday. Dirk Mueller posted a lap of 1:20.630 (87.868 mph), good enough for a 0.230-second gap over Jaime Melo and Mika Salo in Risi Competizione’s No. 62 Ferrari F430 GT, a winner at Long Beach last year.

After the two Ferraris were two of Flying Lizard Motorsports’ three Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs, led by 12 Hours of Sebring winners Jörg Bergmeister and Wolf Henzler at 1:21.298 (87.146 mph).

The Tequila Patr¢n American Le Mans Series at Long Beach, Round 3 of the 2008 season, is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. PT on Saturday, April 19 from the famed Long Beach street circuit. ABC will broadcast the race from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 20. XM Satellite Radio will provide coverage on Channel 144 from 7 to 9 p.m. ET Saturday, April 19. American Le Mans Radio will have live coverage of the race at americanlemans.com, which also will feature IMSA’s Live Timing & Scoring.

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