Sarrazin leads Peugeot 1-2 in opening Petit LeMans practice

Stephane Sarrazin

Two-time and defending race-winner Stephane Sarrazin led a Peugeot 1-2 in the first official practice for Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda on Thursday morning at Road Atlanta. The Frenchman posted a best lap of 1:09.603 (131.374 mph) in the diesel-powered Peugeot 908 that he will drive with Franck Montagny – Sarrazin’s teammate the last two years – and Alexander Wurz.

Sarrazin was 0.124 seconds quicker than Simon Pagenaud in the second factory Peugeot. Audi Sport Team Joest’s Marcel Faessler was third at 1:10.562.

The session was halted for approximately 30 minutes following a heavy crash between Olivier Pla’s Oak Racing Oak Pescarolo prototype and JDX Racing’s Will Langhorne. Track and IMSA officials had to repair barriers and fencing as a result of the incident.

Marino Franchitti, co-winner the last two years in LMP2, was quickest in the class for Level 5 Motorsports. The Scotsman set a time of 1:14.278 in the HPD ARX-01g that he is driving with Luis Diaz and Scott Tucker. Franchitti was nearly a second quicker than Signatech Nissan’s Lucas Ordonez. Mark Patterson was third-fastest for United Autosports in his Oak Pescarolo-Judd at 1:17.619.

GTE Pro was extremely tight… as usual. Risi Competizione’s Toni Vilander was the quickest driver in the Ferrari F458 Italia he will share with Jaime Melo and Raphael Matos with a time of 1:20.205. Melo was the quickest driver in Wednesday’s final test session.

The top nine cars were within 0.749 seconds of each other. BMW Team RLL’s Dirk Müller, who clinched the ALMS GT championship two weeks ago at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with Joey Hand, was second-quickest in Thursday’s test at 1:20.258 in his BMW M3 GT. Former Ferrari F1 pilot Giancarlo Fisichella was third in class with a time of 1:20.493 in AF Corse’s Ferrari F458.

The LMP Challenge class was just as close as GTE Pro. CORE autosport’s Rudy Junco set the fastest lap of 1:17.429 on his final time around the circuit in the ORECA FLM09 that he is driving with Gunnar Jeannette and Ricardo Gonzalez. Genoa Racing’s Dane Cameron, a late addition to the team, was just 0.206 seconds back. Eric Lux in the second Genoa entry sat third at 1:17.731.

Julien Canal led GTE Am for Larbre Competition’s Corvette C6.R with a lap of 1:22.167 in the car he will share with Patrick Bornhauser and Gabriele Gardal. Michael Wainwright was second in Gulf Middle East AMR’s Aston Martin Vantage at 1:25.963.

In GT Challenge, Jeroen Bleekemolen set the quickest time for Black Swan Racing in the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup he will share with Tim Pappas and Sebastiaan Bleekemolen. He was a scant 0.075 seconds clear of Alex Job Racing’s Leh Keen.

Thursday’s second practice session is set for 2:55 p.m.

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