Motorsport.com has asked drivers from the American Le Mans Series and the SCCA SPEED World Challenge to give our readers an insight of some of the 2005 venues that they will compete on. This coming weekend both series' drivers will compete on the 2.238-miles Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca road course in Monterey, California -- home of the Corkscrew!
This weekend the American Le Mans and SCCA World Challenge teams will compete on the historic track for their season finale races. The only class in ALMS that has secured the drivers' championship is LMP1 -- won by Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro at Road Atlanta's Petit Le Mans.
One of the tightest battles this season as been between the Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing privateer Porsche team versus the Alex Job Racing Porsche team whose drivers have taken the coveted GT2 title in past years. On Saturday, Jorg Bergmeister and Patrick Long hope to convert their 22 point lead into the 2005 title and in their first season as co-drivers!
A remarkable feat for the two young Porsche factory drivers. But then again, if they and their team can unseat the powerhouse AJR team, that too will be an accomplishment.
The final ALMS race will be four hours in length from 3:15 p.m. (PDT) with the green flag to the 7:15 p.m. checkered flag. The German and American drivers can taste the championship but both are on solid ground knowing that in any race anything can happen. After winning the 12 Hours of Sebring, the team faced one obstacle after another before taking the last three race wins leading into the season finale.
And now they have the edge in the standings.
It seemed only fitting for Motorsport.com to ask Bergmeister and Long to give our readers an insight to the famous and challenging Laguna Seca circuit and in their own words with their own unique style.
Lap of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
By J?rg Bergmeister and Patrick Long
Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing
Bergmeister: "From there on you try to carry as much speed out of the corner as you can to get a good run to Turn Three. [It is a] pretty tricky right-hander with quite a braking zone. Or a little braking zone if you try to carry out a lot of speed for the next straightaway. Which carries into the next really quick right hander. You barely lift into a really quick turn and then the next straight comes up."
Long: "The exit of Turn Two has sort of a decreasing radius so it comes up on you quick. So you have to get the car real straight on the exit up to [Turn] Three. The track kind of turns to the left away from the apex of the corner so you have to be careful not to follow the track too much. All the curbs are useable through [turns] Three and Four. The apex and the exit curbs have been modified since the USGP, the motorcycle race, so they are a lot more user friendly now. To get a perfect lap, you probably need to be on both. The exit of Four is all about getting a good run onto the back straightaway."
Bergmeister: "Going to Turn Five; really short braking zone down to third [gear] for the upper left hander. Normally, the car has a tendency to slightly push there on turn-in and then on the exit the track is a little off camber. It falls off a little bit. You mostly have an oversteer there especially on the race stint so you just try to optimize the car there and get a good run up the hill."
Long: "[Turn] Five all the way to the 'Corkscrew' is all climbing so exits are key. [Turn] Six is probably one of the most challenging and important corners in North America. You sort of crest a hump on turn-in for Six so you don't have a lot of visibility as you come in there. It is definitely a test of will. As the car compresses into Six it is important to be back on the power and use all of the exit curbing but it is a high risk area."
Bergmeister: "As the runoff there is pretty narrow it is pretty easy to destroy the car there. But, at least in qualifying, you have to take the risk to take a really good lap time as it is pretty steep uphill afterwards. You can make up quite some time there."
Bergmeister: "Honda is actually one of the most interesting corners for me. Especially in the race you can change your line quite a bit. It depends on its handling and its also a good possibility to overtake other guys if you take a tight line in the first part and then just put your nose inside. I think it is one of the nicest corners on the track."
Long: "The final right hander after Honda is a great corner; flowing, fast, pretty straight forward. There's banking there that you can use so the speeds are higher than you think. But the exit of the corner kind of flattens off at the top so you have to be careful as you lose a little bit of the banking if you use the exit curb. That's a good corner to set up for one of the best passing zones on the track, which is the final corner. If you get a good run out of there, you can straight line up the inside of the guy at the hairpin into [Turn] Eleven and the final corner is for J?rg."
Bergmeister: "Going down to second [gear] again, probably the slowest corner on the track. There are quite some bumps in the braking zone already and in the apex as well, so as soon as you go on power the car has a tendency to start jumping a little bit. There it is all about getting the power down to get a good run on the straightaway, the start-finish straight."
For more on the dynamite duo, please see Bergmeister, Long enjoy the GT2 close competition