As dawn broke over Road Atlanta this race day, the talk of the paddock was the battle between Audi and Peugeot. With pole secured by the French marqueâ€™s 908 Diesel in the hands of F1 driver Anthony Davidson, the air is electric and the battle should be epic.
Road Atlanta offers a unique venue for the Petit Le Mans with its .54-mile circuit replete with 12 corners and over 75% of the lap on full throttle. The race will consist of 1,000 miles or 10 hours. The weather is beautiful and the crowd is expected to reach 100,000. Thatâ€™s a lot of people attending the final ALMs race but Road Atlanta is a terrific venue and one of the more accommodating to view the race in its entirety. Ample seating, free parking and access to the teams and paddock are just some of the benefits of Road Atlanta. It truly is a fabulous circuit.
As the cars launch into the final practice session prior the race, the series 17 points championship only have awarded two so far. The final race has it all to play for across all classes and it is being fielded by an astounding 45 cars which means serious traffic for the LMP class. Today also represents 62nd anniversary of American post-war road racing which happened in 1948 at Watkins Glen. A fitting anniversary for what should prove to be a classic race.
The main storyline from this morning is the complete re-build of the Audi Chassis. Just before the end of the last free practice session on Friday morning Dindo Capello had slipped off the track in turn 3. The front end of the Audi R15 TDI got stuck on a bump in the rough field and was pushed under the car in such an unfortunate way that the left-hand side of the monocoque was damaged. For safety reasons Audi Sport Team Joest decided to change the monocoque. In less than four and a half hours the car was completely dismantled and prepared again. A few minutes before the qualifying session started Dindo Capello drove the R15 TDI into the pits accompanied by a round of resounding applause. Dindo said:
“Iâ€™ve got to really congratulate the crew: to prepare such a heavily damaged car again in such a short time is really exceptional. It shows yet again why weâ€™ve won so many races and championships with this team. These guys are simply great. Of course the car didnâ€™t have optimal balance in qualifying and was difficult to drive. The lap time I was able to drive under these conditions makes me optimistic for tomorrow. Now we need to correct a few minor things, put the car on the measurement platform and then we should be able to attack tomorrow.”
The plots are set, the battle will begin and the storylineâ€™s will write themselves. Road Atlanta will host the finest field in Petit Le Mans history and with history comes the weight of legendary performancesâ€“â€“I suspect we are going to witness just such a race this afternoon.