ATLANTA (October 17, 2013) – Performing well out of the box at its “home track,” Paul Miller Racing, and drivers Bryce Miller, Marco Holzer and team-returning Emmanuel Collard, have been on pace in testing this week at Road Atlanta and in today’s official first practice day for Petit Le Mans in the No. 48 Chopard/TOTAL Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.
Although heavy rain hampered both of Thursday’s day-time practices, and kept the Chopard/TOTAL team in the garage for the first session, the No. 48 Porsche clocked in second fastest in the afternoon run.
Petit Le Mans is the finale of the 2013 ALMS season and also the finale for the series as next year will see the introduction of the inaugural IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The 1,000-mile/10-hour endurance classic has been a premier event on the ALMS tour since the inaugural running in 1998 and will continue to hold a landmark position in the new and unified series beginning next season.
The 1,000-mile (394 laps) or 10-hour Petit Le Mans will be televised live on FOX Sports 2 beginning at 11 a.m. EDT this Saturday, October 19th. Coverage throughout the day alternates between FOX Sports 2 and FOX Sports 1, including a live segment from 6:30 – 8 p.m. EDT on FOX Sports 1. An encore highlight presentation will also air the following day on FOX Sports 1 at 4 p.m. EDT. Live coverage of the entire event is also available on the recently launched FOX Sports mobile application, FOX Sports GO that is available exclusively on devices using the iOS platform.
Paul Miller Racing is looking to shake off a three-race run of recent bad luck at a circuit the team considers a “home track.” Although Paul Miller Racing’s corporate headquarters are in Parsippany, N.J., the team race shop is located in the greater Atlanta area.
The team has rebuilt its Porsche 911 GT3 RSR twice since Labor Day following a pair of heavy accidents in the Baltimore Grand Prix and two weeks ago at Virginia International Raceway (VIR). In between those events, the No. 48 suffered an obscure left-rear suspension issue in the race at Circuit of The Americas that knocked the team from contention.
“I would like to just be on the record and thank the guys,” Team Owner Paul Miller said. “The whole crew has done a fantastic job of putting this car back together twice. We rolled it out for testing yesterday and the car ran without a hitch the whole hour and a half. We are excited about the race car that we have, we think we have a great car for the race, we have done a lot of testing here and we have a high level of confidence in our ability to be very competitive here.”
Part of the team’s confidence comes from the return of Collard to the driver lineup. The fast Frenchman previously drove for Paul Miller Racing in the 2011 Petit Le Mans, co-driving with Bryce Miller and then teammate Sascha Maassen. Collard was also part of the overall winning team in the inaugural Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in 1998.
“The track is very good, a very interesting circuit,” Collard said. “I think it is one of the best here in the U.S., you have a lot of up and down, and very fast corners, it is a nice layout. The ambience of the event is also very good with so many fans coming here every year. I like it all very much.”
Collard has noticed several improvements to the Paul Miller Racing operation, including the 2013 addition of Michelin racing tires.
“They have improved everything, for sure, in the last two years,” Collard said. “I think they have good guys here on the team, many of the mechanics are still the same, and we have good stuff on the technical side.”
After testing Sunday, Monday and today at Road Atlanta, the official Petit Le Mans schedule began today with morning, afternoon and nighttime practice sessions. Final practice Friday morning will be followed by GT qualifying that afternoon at 2:05 p.m. EDT. Race-day Saturday begins with a final warm-up practice at 9:15 a.m. EDT before the scheduled start of the Petit Le Mans at 11:30 a.m. EDT. Live streaming of qualifying will be available on ALMS.com which also offers a live stream of Saturday’s race to international audiences.
– Paul Miller Racing Team Manager Mitchell Simmons recapped the most recent rebuild that followed the VIR incident. “We loaded up and drove straight back to Atlanta, got in after 3 a.m. and were back at work at 7 a.m.,” Simmons said. “We disassembled the car, got the engine out, assessed the damage and found out it might not have been quite as bad as we thought it was, but it still needed a big repair. We had it at the frame shop at 8 a.m. the next morning, continued to build up the remainder of the subassemblies that we still had, and that we were very low on at that point, got the car back 24 hours later and had it back in one piece by Wednesday. We did a setup on it on Thursday and moved in to Road Atlanta on Saturday afternoon.”