ALMS GT2 - Emmanuel Collard To Join Bryce Miller And Sascha Maassen For Petit Le Mans
BRASELTON, September 30, 2011: It all comes down to this Saturday for No. 48 Chopard/Yokohama/IPC/TOTAL Porsche 911 GT3 RSR co-drivers Bryce Miller, Sascha Maassen and Emmanuel Collard, and the Paul Miller Racing team as the 2011 American Le Mans Series Tequila Patrón draws to a close with the Petit Le Mans endurance race at Road Atlanta.
It has been a long road to get to this point, and the team has made remarkable progress throughout its first year of competition in the super competitive ALMS GT class. Miller and Maassen, who have co-driven the No. 48 Porsche all season, head into Saturday's season finale already with a sense of accomplishment.
"It's been an amazing experience for us this year to grow and develop as a team, and also to grow with Yokohama and the performance of their tire and working with them," Bryce Miller said. "It's been a development year for us but it's also been very satisfying, because we can see the results all of the time. I feel quite good about our year. We've had some excellent results, demonstrated some excellent reliability and showed some respectable pace. I think that it shows we can compete in this arena."
"We are part of a development program with Yokohama and you can see the progress," Maassen reinforced. "It's very, very encouraging when you see that something is moving forward. I really enjoy being part of a development program, because I can put my experience in there. We have made constant steps forward, which is not always easy. I'm expecting another step here, maybe, in the race. We need a little bit of luck, but I think we can do a good show here."
A number of European racers from the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC) make an already tough ALMS GT field even tougher. Miller and Maassen have proven themselves to be equal to the task, and the addition of Collard makes a solid driver lineup even stronger. Collard wrapped up his third Le Mans Series championship just last weekend, and feels good about joining the Paul Miller Racing team this week.
"I'm really impressed," Collard said. "They race on Yokohama tires and I think they've made a big improvement since the beginning. They've made a lot of development and finished in the top five (at Baltimore), which is really, really good here. The level is really high when you see that you race two factory Corvettes, two factory Ferraris and a factory Porsche. It's already difficult to be in the top five. I think it's good for the future."
The respect is mutual between Miller, Maassen and Collard, which should bode well for the team's chances for the remainder of the week at Road Atlanta. All three drivers understand the keys to success in a 10-hour race.
"We have a really experienced driver lineup," Miller said. "I think this Petlt Le Mans will be more about experience amongst the drivers than in other events that we've seen. With Sascha and Manu in the car, they've got a lot of experience and it's great to have them here.
"This event is going to be so much about attrition and so much about pit strategy. Any endurance race normally is, but especially this race will be about the drivers exercising good judgment and patience because the track is just so crowded. There's so much traffic and there's a lot of varying speeds out there, both in terms of the categories out on track, but also in the driver abilities. You really have to be heads up. Having spotters probably doesn't hurt. Spending a lot of time in your mirrors as a GT driver could really make the difference between if you bring it home after 10 hours or not. It's going to require having to pay a lot of attention to what's going on out there."