GT Class race leaders at Mosport before the final change when a penalty is assessed on the #55 BMW of Auberlen/Werner (pictured leading eventual winner Oliver Gavin/Jan Magnussen's Corvette, and P2's Jaime Melo/Toni Vilander's Ferrari F458 Italia). Image Credit: ALMS/Ryan Smith
Mosport Breaks Streaks And Dims Season's Chances In ALMS GT
The weather was perfect for a summer's race of exotic, and expertly prepared sports cars at Mosport International Raceway just outside Toronto.
The Abruzzi “Spirit of the Le Mans” racer. The Abruzzi “Spirit of Le Mans” is set to carry on a successful history of Panoz in motorsport. With 10 class victories – including eight overall – in the American Le Mans Series and the 2002 Trans-Am championship, the manufacturer is one of the most renowned in the world. In addition to winning at Sebring and Le Mans, Panoz has won at such venues as Road Atlanta, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Sears Point, Portland, the Nürburgring and Washington DC. Image Credit: ALMS/Ryan Smith
Joining the GT Class (but running as Unclassified) for the first time in 2011, Team Panoz returned with the radical Panoz Abruzzi ‘Spirit of Le Mans’ with drivers Ian James and Edward Sandström. The Panoz, however, was not a factor in the race and it's outing showed that getting to learn a new car is never easy. In the morning warm-up before the race, the #50 UNC Panoz Abruzzi driven by Edward Sandstrom stopped at turn 2 with damage to the left front of the car after hitting the tire walls. On a positive note, the Unclassified run of the Panoz had it come in at P9 (if judged as GT) ahead of such notable entrants as the #01 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ferrari 458 Italia driven by Scott Sharp/Johans van Overbeek, the #98 RSR Jaguar XKR driven by P.J. Jones and Rocky Moran Jr., and the #45 Flying Lizard Porsche 911 RSR driven Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long.
The last notable mentioned is where the hopes for a repeat in the GT Class dimmed. The Flying Lizard Porsche of Bergmeister and Long showed great promise at climbing back into the championship points frey after qualifying well in P3 just behind the two Team RLL BMWs and just .231 seconds behind the season points leading team of the #56 of Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller in P1.
Joerg Bergmeister driving the Flying Lizard factory Porsche chases down the #56 Team RLL BMW before its driver, Joey Hand is issued a penalty, giving the Porsche a temporary lead at Mosport. Image Credit: ALMS/Ryan Smith
The Green Flag drops At 3:03 pm and race was beginning to come the Flying Lizards way when they were able to run at P2 just behind the #56 BMW. The GT madness began after nearly an hour of tight racing when Joey Hand made contact in his #56 BMW M3 GT with Risi Competizione`s #62 Ferrari F458 Italia of Toni Vilander. A penalty for Hand promoted Jeorg Bergmeister and the #45 Flying Lizard Porsche 911 GT3 RSR into the lead. Things were looking great until Bergmeister got his Porsche sideways in Turn 10, handing the lead to Bill Auberlen in the #55 BMW Team RLL entry.
Normally, a racer can recover from a spin but the Porsche was not behaving well.
This excerpted and edited from ALMS Race Notes -
At 4:25 pm (1h 22m running), Joerg Bergmeister (#45-GT Porsche 911 GT3 RSR) has radioed that he has lost power steering and will pit for the crew to evaluate.
At 4:26 pm (1h 23m running), Joerg Bergmeister (#45-GT Porsche 911 GT3 RSR) into the pits. 4 tires, fuel, driver change: Patrick Long . working on the power steering.
At 4:36 pm (1h 33m running), Patrick Long (#45-GT Porsche 911 GT3 RSR) into the pits. No fuel, no driver change. Finished repairs on pit lane. Rejoining the race.
This eleven minute repair delay placed the team well down in the field finishing the race at Mosport P12 in GT Class. The #45 Flying Lizard effort entered the race at a real chance of climbing back into the season points race from P3 but leaves dropping to P6.
GT championship leader BMW Team RLL`s three-race win streak came to a close at Mosport as a combo of contact, mechanical woes and penalties jumbled the order throughout the two-hour, 45 minute race. After the final round of pit stops and with Dirk Werner in the driver`s seat, it appeared BMW`s biggest concern would be holding off Magnussen`s #4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C6.R. But with less than 20 minutes remaining, another penalty cost BMW the lead once again. Officials ruled Werner's contact with GTC leader Pumpelly at Turn 10 as avoidable and called the #55 BMW into the penalty box. It promoted Magnussen and his Corvette to the GT lead.
Winning Driver's Quotes:
Jan Magnussen (#4-GT Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1) (about the battle with Ferrari) “We were just ahead in the pits stops, and after that we had to hold him off. We were side by side through three, it was really exciting. We were pushing as hard as we could the whole race, same as the Ferrari. It's a really fast car, I had to wait for him to make a mistake for a while. He finally made one in traffic and I was able to take advantage. I knew I couldn't pull away from him on speed, so I knew I had to take some chances in traffic to keep ahead of him. This race had a bunch of different potential winners at different stages, I think BMW looked like they had the most advantage, but we were able to push at the right moments and pull a win out. If you asked us this morning, we'd say, there will only be one winner. It just unfolded that way today. I'm glad we were the ones that got to break the win barrier.”
Oliver Gavin (#4-GT Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1) “It was one of those moments where you see the incident, and you think, in the past the person gets a penalty. It was called that way, and it was something that aided us to get the win. Jan still had to do a lot of hard work out there and navigate the traffic. Traffic does seem to be a really big issue here. Any time you slip and go off the track, you can end up in the wall. That could be a race ending moment. There is no chance to rest here. Hats off to Jan and the team, just a stellar job today. I knew from my stint that if Jan was on the Ferrari gearbox coming out of turn 5, you could probably get a toe coming out and use the momentum to get by. He executed brilliantly and then sliced through traffic to get a 4 or 5 second lead. The rain that came through last night showed a bit today. We were chasing the car all weekend, we weren't the fastest car. What we showed today was winning by team, pit stop strategies, coming in at the right time, having the least amount of mistakes. It comes down to the entire team operating at 100% every second of the race.”
The #01 and #02 Ferrari 458 Italia race cars of Extreme Speed Motorsports. Image Credit: ALMS/Ryan Smith
Going into the next race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge (Race 5 of 9), the season points breakout is as follows:
Position - Drivers - Car - Season Championship Points
1 Dirk Mueller/Joey Hand (#56-GT BMW M3 GT) - 80
2 Oliver Gavin/Jan Magnussen (#4-GT Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1) - 57
3 Bill Auberlen/Dirk Werner (#55-GT BMW M3 GT) - 46
4 Jaime Melo/Toni Vilander (#62-Ferrari F458 Italia) - 41
5 Olivier Beretta/Tommy Milner (#3-GT Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1) - 39
... notes from The EDJE
[Article first published as Mosport Breaks Streaks And Dims Season's Chances In ALMS GT on Technorati]