A sprinkling of rain did not dampen JML Team Panoz's chances of success at Petit Le Mans in qualifying Friday at Road Atlanta.

Olivier Beretta will start Saturday's 10 hour / 1000 mile classic from the second row of the grid after qualifying fourth fastest at 1 minute 13.290 seconds in the #10 car he will share with regular partner, David Saelens plus Max Papis.

"I am very happy about the work that the team has done on the car from the first practice through to now," noted Beretta, "At the start of qualifying we ran on intermediate Michelin tyres, but the track dried very quickly.

"It took a couple of laps to get some heat into the tyres and you had to be very careful not to drift off-line and spin on the wet parts of the road. The car was still quite easy to drive and I am interested to see what it will be like on full tanks in the warm-up Saturday."

"The balance of the car was very good Friday morning," added Saelens, "Our guys worked very hard overnight to improve the car and the results showed straight away.

"It was raining about ten minutes before qualifying, but got dryer and dryer as the session continued. Our guys worked hard in giving Oli information over the radio as to what times everyone else was doing.

"Starting fourth is very promising for us and together with Max and Olivier and I think we can finish quite well by the end of the night."

Papis commented: "I was really pleased to find the car improved in every aspect Friday morning and the support from Michelin has been superb.

"In all conditions Friday the car has been very strong which will stand us in good stead for Saturday's race. It will be a very long day, but I think the three of us will make a very good combination and I am really looking forward to the race."

Scott Maxwell meanwhile was just behind in sixth place at 1m 14.166s aboard the #11 machine he is driving with young-guns Gunnar Jeannette and Benjamin Leuenberger.

"The team has done a great job recovering from Wednesday's dramas and I pretty pleased with the way qualifying worked out," said Maxwell, "It was pretty dicey initially when I first went onto slicks, but the car came in quite well.

"We are still struggling with a little bit of understeer but we will work on some further improvements over night. We may not have had the fastest car in qualifying, but I think it is a very good race car - it should be quite easy to drive throughout the ten hours of 1000 miles."

"I am definitely looking forward to Saturday and I think we will have a very good racecar," continued Jeannette, "We made some great improvements Friday and our top speed is up - the guys have worked very hard on the car overnight.

"Scotty did a very good job in qualifying which was tough because it was wet early but the Michelin guys sent him out on slicks at the right time. If we have a good consistent run I think we can definitely end up on the podium."

Both Beretta and Maxwell faced damp conditions at the start of the qualifying session and began on intermediate Michelin rain tyres.

As a dry line began to emerge, Maxwell was the first to change to slick rubber, followed one lap later by Beretta.

Times began to tumble as the track became dryer with Audi's Marco Werner eventually taking the pole position at 1m 11.738s.

Both JML Team Panoz combinations made steady improvement Friday morning, also finishing fourth and sixth fastest in the single practice session.

The teams will face a final 30 minute warm-up Saturday at 8.00am before the race faces the green flag at 11.30am [all times local].

 

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