ALMS teams test report from LeMans
A tight battle between Risi Competizione and Flying Lizard Motorsports highlighted the showing of American Le Mans Series teams at the annual Test Day for the 24 Hours of Le Mans on Sunday. The two teams sat 1-2 in the GT2 standings on a soggy day in the Sarthe region France, two weeks before the 76th running of the world’s most famous race will take the checkered flag.
The weather at Le Mans on Sunday was just as bleak as it was when last year’s race finished. As a result, it was very difficult for teams and drivers to find any dry laps and do any meaningful work in preparation for the June 14-15 race.
The No. 82 Risi Ferrari F430 GT of Jaime Melo, Mika Salo and Gianmaria Bruni went quickest in GT2 at 4:05.561 (199.805 kph) with Melo posting the time. He and Salo have added Bruni after the Risi entry crashed out in last year’s race after leading for 11 hours. Salo and Melo have failed to finish any better than ninth in any American Le Mans Series race after winning nine times and the class title last season.
Indeed, the Salo/Melo/Bruni trio led in class at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring just before the halfway point before Melo crashed out the car.
“We have had a good day and we were able to do everything we wanted to within the parameters of the conditions, which obviously affected everyone else as well,” said team principal Giuseppe Risi. “I’m happy with the progress made during our time out there on the track.”
Flying Lizard was the best of the Porsche runners with its No. 80 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The car driven by Jörg Bergmeister, Johannes van Overbeek and Seth Neiman turned in a lap of 4:05.590 (199.782 kph). Considering the circuit is 8.3 miles around, the gap of just 0.29 seconds was remarkable.
Flying Lizard has won two races in the American Le Mans Series and leads the driver and team championship standings.
The second Risi Ferrari of Tracy Krohn, Nic Jonsson and Eric van de Poele finished ninth in GT2 at 4:17.177 (190.781 kph). The car suffered heavy rear-end damage when Krohn went off near the Ford Chicane. He was sent to a local hospital for precautionary reasons but has talking and alert afterward.
At the head of the grid, the fight between diesel powers Audi and Peugeot saw the French challengers place 1-2 in front of the best Audi. Stephane Sarrazin set the fastest time of the day at 3:22.222 (242.626 kph) in one of three Peugeot 908s, more than four seconds better than his pole time from last year’s race.
|The R10 Audi pulls into the garage|
Marco Werner was the fastest in the Audi camp with a 3:26.641 (237.395 kph) in the Audi R10 TDI he will share with Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro as the trio seeks their third straight Le Mans victory. Werner was well back of Sarrazin but only 0.034 seconds behind the second Peugeot.
“Unfortunately, today wasn’t exactly the kind of day we’d been wishing for,” Werner said. “Although in the rain and in changing conditions we were able to sort and try many things, we’d have preferred driving on a dry track for a longer period of time. I think that the results we saw on the times monitor today do not truly reflect the situation yet. But, in any event, we’ve still got a lot of work to do during the race week.”
A second Audi of Lucas Luhr, Alexandre Premat and Mike Rockenfeller was fifth-fastest at 3:28.359 (235.48 kph) with the third R10 TDI of Allan McNish, Dindo Capello and Tom Kristensen more than 10 seconds back. The next quickest American Le Mans Series entry was the Charouz Racing Lola B06/10-AER of Klaus Graf, Greg Pickett and Jan Lammers, another two seconds adrift.
Autocon Motorsports’ Creation-Judd was well down the timing list as the crew worked on its familiarity with the new Creation chassis and a reworked Judd engine.
In GT1, Corvette Racing’s two Corvette C6.Rs were third and fourth in a highly competitive field. Max Papis was quickest in the No. 64 Corvette at 3:55.520 (208.324 kph) in the entry he will share with Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin. Johnny O’Connell was 0.357 seconds behind in the Corvette that he will drive with Ron Fellows and Jan Magnussen.
“We did run through some wet, intermediate and slick tires that Michelin supplied to us, so it's good to get that experience,” Gavin said. “I’m delighted to be back at Le Mans, exorcising some of the demons that we had last year when we had that driveshaft failure. It's nice to be back out there, doing laps and getting back into it. It's a wonderful circuit, and Max, Olivier and I love driving here. We're focused and really want to get on with things.”
The 76th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans runs from 9 a.m. ET (3 p.m. local time) June 14 to 9 a.m. ET June 15 from the Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, France. Forty-one drivers will be representing the American Le Mans Series, whose teams have captured seven overall victories and 22 class championships since 1999. SPEED will televise the event live, and Radio Le Mans will have flag-to-flag coverage of the race as well as practice and qualifying on June 11 and 12.