Petit Le Mans Qualifying Day

Friday at Road Atlanta kicked off with a joint press call from Michelin and Highcroft Racing for the unveiling of the Deltawing Project 56 car that will race at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2012. The Deltawing Project was announced as the winner of the ACO’s competition for Garage #56 back at the 24 hour race in June but today was the first public unveiling of the car. The car’s unique design requires very specific tires to be manufactured, the front ones being only 4″ wide! Michelin COO Scott Clark was on hand to announce their partnership in the project along with Don Panoz and Duncan Dayton from Highcroft racing.

Delta Wing Project

The final official practice session took place under bright, sunny skies which seem to be a permanent fixture this week in Georgia. At the end of the previous day Simon Pagenaud had topped the time sheets with a 1m09.027 ahead of Timo Bernhard in the No.2 Audi. The red flags came out three times during the session though for accidents involving the Performance Tech car, Oak Racing’s No.15 car and finally a sizeable crash for the No.20 Ford GT from Robertson Racing which caused the session to be abandoned with 11 minutes remaining. At this time it’s unclear whether Robertson Racing will be able to compete in the race tomorrow.

Action from Petit Le Mans

Tom Kristensen topped the times though for the first time this weekend followed by Sebastien Bourdais in the No.7 Peugeot. Meanwhile in LMP2, the 2010 Indy Lights champion Jean-Karl Vernay (also Peugeot’s reserve driver for Le Mans this year) continued his impressive first outing in the Signatech Nissan, posting the fastest time ahead of Scott Tucker from Level 5. BMW maintained their position at the head of the GT field with a 1-2 ahead of the the AF Course and Risi Ferrari crews. As it has been all week, things are tight at the top of every category.

Audi at Petit Le Mans

For qualifying in the afternoon the cars were split into their classes to allow for an emptier track, with each class given just 15 minutes to set their fastest times. Gianmaria Bruni put in a stunning lap in the AF Course Ferrari to snatch GT pole away from the BMW team who had seemed to have a slight edge over the rest of the field. LMP2 served up a similar story as the Signatech Nissan had pole snatched way from it by Luis Diaz in the Level 5 Motorsports car. The only thing that is certain this week is that there will be some ferocious battles at the top of all classes in the race this Saturday. Almost every timed session has seen the top rival teams trade places between consecutive sessions.

Corvette Pit lane at Petit Le Mans

With Tom Kristensen having been fastest in the morning practice session for Audi that meant it was time for a Peugeot to top the sheets this time. Anthony Davidson was the man to do it, and it only took him one flying lap to set a 1m07.45. A full second faster than any times previously set this week, but followed closely by Timo Bernhard in the Audi just 0.1 seconds back. So Peugeot, Audi, Peugeot, Audi will line up on the grid with Nicolas Lapierre in the ORECA Peugeot being the best of the rest. Can they pull off another surprise victory as they did at the 12 Hours of Sebring earlier in the year?

Anthony Davidson at Petit Le Mans

Exclusive report and photography for Travel Destinations by Dan Carr (