Franck Montagny and Peugeot fired the first shots at Petit Le Mans with the fastest lap in Wednesday's official test session at Road Atlanta. The fast Frenchman turned a lap of 1:07.652 (135.162mph) in the Peugeot 908 HDi factory prototype that he will share with Stephane Sarrazin and Pedro Lamy.
Montagny, a winner in last year's washout with Sarrazin, blistered the track as Peugeot hit Road Atlanta for the first time this week ahead of the finale of the 2010 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón championship. He already is within 1.5sec of Sarrazin's pole-winning time in 2008 – the fastest in event history. More importantly, Montagny put Peugeot ahead of diesel rival Audi.
The two R15 TDI prototypes sat second and third. The first of the Audis – driven by Marcel Fässler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer – set a time of 1:08.717 (133.068mph) which was less than a half-second better than the sister Audi of Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish. The second Peugeot of Alexander Wurz, Anthony Davidson and Marc Gene – the winners at Sebring in March – sat fourth and were just ahead of Intersport Racing's Lola-AER of Clint Field and Jon Field.
In LMP2, Muscle Milk Team CytoSport's Sascha Maassen set the pace with a lap of 1:10.947 (128.885mph) in the Porsche RS Spyder he is driving with Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf. The Muscle Milk squad enters the weekend still alive in the Series' LMP championship. However it needs to have Patrón Highcroft Racing finish less than 70 percent of the race Saturday. Speaking of which, the team's HPD ARX-01c prototype of David Brabham, Marino Franchitti and Simon Pagenaud sat second in class at 1:12.143 (126.748mph).
The Patrón Highcroft car was nearly a second quicker than Dyson Racing's Mazda-powered Lola coupe of Chris Dyson, Andy Meyrick and Guy Smith.
Risi Competizione's Gianmaria Bruni went quickest in GT2 at 1:20.719 (113.282mph). The pair of red Ferrari F430 GTs sat 1-2 in the session with Bruni's car, which he is sharing with Toni Vilander, 0.218sec better than the sister car of Giancarlo Fisichella, Jaime Melo and Mika Salo. Risi has won Petit Le Mans the last two years and hopes to send the F430 GT out in style with another victory. A racing version of the Ferrari 458 is due to roll out for 2011.
Two BMW M3 GTs from BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team sat third and fourth in class. The entry of Bill Auberlen, Tom Milner and Dirk Werner was the quickest of the pair at 1:20.939 (112.974mph). The next-quickest manufacturer was Robertson Racing's Ford GT of David Murry, Rob Bell and Anthony Lazzaro that ended sixth in class.
Green Earth Team Gunnar's Gunnar Jeannette was the fastest driver in LMP Challenge with a lap of 1:16.178 (120.035mph). This is the first Petit Le Mans for the ORECA FLM09 that comprises the class. Jeannette, driving the G-Oil car with Elton Julian and Christian Zugel, is tied for the class championship lead with Level 5 Motorsports' Scott Tucker.
PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports' trio of Ricardo Gonzalez, Luis Diaz and Ryan Lewis sat second in class at 1:16.752 (119.137mph). One of Level 5's two entries sat third and less than a half-second behind the PR1 entry.
Andy Lally set the quickest lap in GT Challenge for TRG. The driver from nearby Dacula posted a time of 1:25.650 (106.760mph) in the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car he is driving with Duncan Ende and Henri Richard. Lally was a slim 0.057sec better than Black Swan Racing's trio of Jeroen Bleekemolen, Tim Pappas and Sebastien Bleekemolen. The Black Swan entry is on the verge of wrapping up the GTC team and driver championship.