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Petit Le Mans Scrutineering Day# 1

6 October 1998

Atlanta, GA-October 6th, 1998

The Premiere Petit Le Mans 1000 Miles at Road Atlanta this week-end is underway. The participating teams began arriving to the Lenox Square Mall to conduct the Scrutineering/Technical Inspection at 10:00 am this morning. First on line were the three GT-3 BMW's entered by Tom Milner of Winchester, VA. Milner's team has expanded by one car this week-end. In preparation for the additional car the team has been testing at Road Atlanta since last week. Today 13 teams will go through the inspection process with the remaining 20 teams scheduled for Wednesday. The location of the Scrutineering/Technical Inspection is in the heart of the Northeast Atlanta's financial and business district. The venue will hopefully turn out to be a marketing coup for drumming up interest. Road Atlanta has leased the north side parking lot of fashionable Lenox Square to conduct the inspection. The sessions (today & Wednesday) are open to the public.

The current entry list has 33 teams participating in the 1000km or 10 hour race. In the LMP1- ACO class six cars will be entered. In the WSC-SC class six cars are also currently listed. The PSR driver's championship battle between Butch Leitzinger and Wayne Taylor will be an interesting one to watch. Leitzinger will be driving with Scott Schubot and Henry Camferdam in the Support Net Racing WSC instead of his usual Dyson/Ford WSC team. Rob Dyson withdrew his team from competition after learning that the fuel cell size had been increased from 80 to 90 litres. While Dysons' reasoning may serve as appropriate cover not to race, it is also well-known that Dyson sides with the USRRC in the current road-racing turf battle. None the less, Leitzinger is poised to capture a second WSC driver's championship. Teaming with Camferdam is a good choice. The Support Net Racing team has been a steady and consistent finisher in WSC this year. The Danka/Toshiba/Lease Plan Ferrari 333SP entry driven by Wayne Taylor, Eric van de Poele and Emmanuel Collard will be the same car that raced at Le Mans this past June. Taylor is no doubt ready to make up for his brain-fade at Sebring three weeks ago. Taylor's debacle on the front straight cost him the point's lead in the driver's championship. With two races left in the season a shoot-out between the two will be fun to watch.

In the GT1 category the field is made up of three Panoz' and two Porsche's. The Mercedes team after much anticipated speculation decided to bypass the event. In GT2, eight cars have entered with the field dominated by six Porsche's. The GT2 field is rounded out by a Mazda RX-7 and the fan-favorite Marcos/Chevrolet. The Marcos may not be the fastest car in the GT2 field but it has shown to be a consistent finisher this season in the FIA races. GT3 has eight entries. The GT3 field consists of four BMW M3's, three Porsche 911's and a Nissan 240SX.

The 1000km race or 10 hour time limit gets underway on Saturday at 11:00am. For race fans who have not visited Road Atlanta this year be prepared for some changes. The 2.6 mile Grand Prix Course has 12 turns with numerous elevation changes throughout. For the spectators the course has become "viewer friendly" with better sight-lines for watching the racing action. The hill across from the "old paddock" which is now referred to as the "support paddock" has been reduced by at least half to make way for the new paddock. When the changes are completed the "new paddock" area will be a state of the art pit-facility. The other major change to the racecourse is the turn 10 and 11 sequence before entering the down-hill section leading to the front straight. Turn 10 became an area for a lot of passing under braking at this year's PSR event in June. Aside from the driving standpoint, turn 10 and 11 is also a great viewing area for the fans. Best described as a "mountain stadium bowl" the fans will be able to watch their favorite car or driver blister down the hill from turn 9 into turn 10 and 11 before exiting their viewpoint as the driver's hammer the throttle to carry speed down the hill onto the front straight.

The week-end of racing gets underway on Thursday at 9:00 am with practice for the PSR Endurance Cup cars followed by combined practice of the LMP/WSC/GT cars. The Sports Toyota Championship cars practice at 11:45am followed by Barber Dodge Pro Series. The Barber Dodge race will be on Saturday morning from 8:50am to 9:30am. The LMP/WSC/GT begin gridding at 10:00am for the 11:00am start. On Sunday the racing gets underway at 12:30 pm with the Sports Toyota Championship followed by the 3-hour PSR Sports Sedan Endurance Race at 2:00pm.

For ticket information call 1-800-849-7223. A four-day general admission ticket is $65.00. Saturday/Sunday tickets are available for $40.00. Entrance to the paddock area is a reasonable $20.00 extra. It should be quite a show.

David Treffer--The Auto Channel