The ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 of JJ Lehto set the fastest time in Thursday morning's official practice for this weekend's Road Atlanta Petit Le Mans.

While the Champion team was happy, however, the Prodrive Ferrari team was faced with the task of repairing a crashed Ferrari 550 Maranello for the second time this week, after Tomas Enge made heavy contact with the turn twelve tyre barrier only a few minutes into the session.

Lehto was at the wheel when the Champion Audi turned a lap of 1min 12.393secs to lead the session overall, as well as top the LMP 900 class. While the Finn and co-driver Johnny Herbert were the winners when the ALMS staged an event at Road Atlanta earlier this year, neither has tasted overall victory in the Petit Le Mans.

Wednesday test pacesetters Andy Wallace, Butch Leitzinger and James Weaver were second fastest overall in the Dyson Racing Lola-MG, and led he LMP 675 class in the one hour session with a lap of 1min 12.930secs. The Infineon Team Joest Audi R8 of Frank Biela and Marco Werner, which suffered two incidents on Wednesday, was third overall and second in P900.

Leading the GTS class was the Chevrolet Corvette C5-R of Oliver Gavin, Kelly Collins and Andy Pilgrim at 1min 19.206secs, followed by the other factory Corvette of Ron Fellows, Johnny O'Connell and Franck Freon. The Prodrive team, which had a car damaged in private testing over the weekend, did not challenge, and immediately started repairs on Enge's machine and expected to have it ready for this afternoon's practice session. Enge was examined and released from the infield medical centre.

"After the top of the hill at twelve, I started to feel loose," the Czech driver said, "It was a puncture in the left-front tyre, and I slid high-speed off to the left. I fought it all the way to the wall to get it back under control - braking, throttle and steering. Luckily I didn't flip like the Viper two years ago, but we will be out for the next practice for sure."

The two Porsche 911 GT3 RS cars of Alex Job Racing led the GT class during the practice session, with the Lucas Luhr/Sascha Maassen car fastest at 1min 23.077secs.

Two other incidents during the practice session resulted in damage to cars. Tomy Drissi tagged the wall in turn 5a early in the session in the American Spirit Racing R&S MkIIIC-Lincoln, but was able to drive the car back to the pits. Then, at the end of the session, Phillip Shearer spun and hit the wall in turn four, causing damage to the left front and rear of the JMB Racing USA Ferrari 360 Modena.

 

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