It’s impressive just how much racing is packed into the Petit Le Mans weekend. Since 8 am Friday morning, Road Atlanta has been hot and busy. As the temperatures today have climbed, so has the excitement from the thickening crowd. There has been no shortage of sunshine and smiling race fans.
For Porsche fans, the PorschePlatz is the best place to meet with friends, check out various Porsches and enjoy the perks courtesy of Porsche Club of America (PCA) and Porsche Cars North America (PCNA). Nestled in a fantastic viewing spot overseeing turns 10a and 10b, the PorschePlatz is perfectly situated for observing Saturday’s 10-hour race. This morning, the PorschePurist staff mingled with members of the Peachtree Region PCA, picked up an oversize poster of the weekend’s superstar – the GT3R Hybrid – and watched ALMS practice and the Patron GT3 Challenge.
The second and final race of the Patron GT3 Challenge saw plenty of action, as is often the case in the series. Gary Pennington (no. 50/Platinum class) was taken out on lap 1 and Kendall Smith (Gold class) boldly attempted an inside move under brakes going into turn 10 which resulted in a spin and loss of several positions (that's Peter LeSaffre in the #33 negotiating through the pack).
Meanwhile, the race seemed to be going extremely well for brother Ross Smith (Platinum class). Smith was leading the field comfortably like he has so many times this year, until he had a major lockup coming down the hill into 10. He left a skid mark that looked to be over 500 feet long and somehow held onto the car and even completed a pass in 10a. However, half a lap later it was clear he had a tire going down and was forced to retire. In the end, Darrell Carlisle’s clean and consistent driving rewarded him with the win in Platinum. Persistent Kendall Smith drove a determined race and made his way back up front in Gold for the win.
Qualifying for GT and GTC wrapped up by 4 pm and the best positioned Porsche—the Flying Lizard #45—will start in 8th place (0.879). Patrick Long, who along with Joerg Bergmeister is in serious contention for the championship, qualified the 45. The start of a 10hr or 1000 mile race certainly doesn’t define the whole story, but Long and Bergmeister can only win the driver championship if they finish 10th or better after completing a minimum of 70% of tomorrow’s race.
All season, the Lizard’s main competitors have been Ferrari and BMW, and tomorrow will be no different. The battle for pole was all Ferrari, with the top four position claimed by the Italian manufacturer while Corvette and BMW followed closely.
In GTC, Black Swan driver Jeroen Bleekemolen logged in an impressive 1:25.141 for his 6th pole his season. Andy Lally (TRG) was incredibly close with a 1:25.364 and Andrew Davis (Magnus Racing) rounded off the top 3 with a 125.482.
Shortly after the GT & GTC qualifying, the prototypes took to the track. Anthony Davidson (no. 07 P1 Peugot 908) set a blistering lap of a 107.187 grabbing the pole by .222 seconds over his teammate Pedro Lamy in the no. 08 sister car. In P2, the Muscle Milk Porsche Spyder missed the pole by .131 seconds, so Porsche fans will doubtlessly be cheering the power team and drivers Klaus Graf, Lucas Luhr and Sascha Maasen.
Follow PorschePurist on Twitter for up-to-the minute updates on race day, and check our web page for tomorrow’s post-race report! If you're at the race, don't forget to pick up your FREE Flying Lizard Motorsport Lanyard