BRASELTON, Ga. – Sascha Maassen turned the fastest lap of the week for the No. 48 Chopard/Yokohama/IPC/TOTAL Porsche 911 GT3 RSR at Road Atlanta in Petit Le Mans qualifying on Friday afternoon and gave co-driver Bryce Miller a 16th-place starting spot in the GT class for the 10-hour or 1,000-mile race. The Petit Le Mans wraps up the 2011 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón season on Saturday.
Maassen posted a best lap at 1:21.577 (112.090 mph) in the car he is sharing with co-drivers Miller and Emmanuel Collard, and was encouraged by the car’s performance in qualifying. The team is carrying momentum from six consecutive top-10 results in ALMS competition into Saturday’s battle in Georgia.
“It’s good we made our quickest lap time of the whole week in qualifying,” Maassen said. “We’re showing improvement step-by-step. I’m really, really optimistic for our race because we can repeat our lap times constantly and that’s what we are working for the whole time. We have a very good racecar. We are starting from 16th, and that sounds bad, but there’s a lot of competition from all over the world, and I’m really optimistic that we have at least a top-10 finish like in the last races.”
Miller equaled Maassen’s optimism after qualifying. He believes in the driver lineup and knows they’ve got plenty of time to work their way toward the front of a very tough GT field.
“We’ve made some real forward strides just today,” said Bryce Miller. “This is encouraging going into the race. Sascha was able to confirm in the qualifying that certain changes and the way that the car feels is good for a race distance. That’s the most important thing when you’re going into an attrition-based event like this.
“We just need to keep our noses clean and we need a predictable car that feels comfortable for the drivers. That’s what we’ve got. As the day tomorrow progresses, hopefully we can find a little bit of advantage again and have it come back to us. The advantage seems to come to us a little bit when the track conditions go cold. The race will surely end this way going into the night, so we’ll see how it goes. Actually, I’m quite pleased.”
The plan is for Miller to start the race, but the driver rotation after that will not be determined until the team completes its prerace strategy session. All three drivers are expected to drive at least two stints.
“We just have to not forget that this is an endurance race,” Maassen said. “We have to push, that’s for sure, but will only win if we make it to the end. We need to just keep our heads together and do no mistakes. That’s our main target. I am very optimistic. All the members, the team, the drivers, the tires, the engine, the car, everything has proven that it is reliable and we don’t do any mistakes. That’s what we keep on doing.”
“There’s no reason not to use our drivers here,” said Miller. “Everyone has the pace and we can spread it around. This is an advantage for us. We should use our resources and keep our drivers fresh and at the top of their game and keep the rotation going.”
One resource the team is using this week to stay on top of its game is a new partnership with Trim Nutrition. Trim is a leader in innovative products for sustained energy and mental focus, which are two crucial components to a successful performance in the Petit Le Mans.
“Our whole team is receiving nutrition support from Trim Nutrition,” said Miller. “This is really helping to support everyone mentally and physically going into a mentally straining and physically straining event like what we’re heading into tomorrow. I’m excited about that. Everybody is feeling good and feeling the benefits of that. We’ll see how it plays out for us in the race, but for sure, any support you can get in these areas is a great benefit.”
The Petit Le Mans – which is scheduled to be 10 hours or 1,000 miles in length, whichever comes first – gets the green flag at 11:30 a.m. ET on Saturday.
ESPN3.com will again offer live broadcasts of qualifying and the race. The qualifying broadcast begins at 2:35 p.m. ET on Friday with the race beginning at 11:15 a.m. ET on Saturday. ABC will also have a tape-delayed telecast of race highlights beginning at 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, October 2.
Live Timing & Scoring data from all on-track sessions is available on www.AmericanLeMans.com and live audio can also be found on www.RadioLeMans.com.
Paul Miller Racing is among the top GT teams competing in North American sports car road racing. In 2011, the team will contest the full American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón, as well as the Daytona 24 Hours. The team enjoys a long-standing relationship with Porsche and competes with the support of four international sponsors in Chopard, Yokohama Tire, IPC Information Systems and TOTAL Lubricants.
Follow the team on Twitter @paulmilleracing and @bryceracer and become a Facebook fan at facebook.com/paulmillerracing and Facebook.com/brycemiller.net.