Laguna Seca: Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca pre-race notes

Series Enters Season Finale For Monterey Sports Car Championships MONTEREY, Calif. (October 17, 2006) -- The 2006 Monterey Sports Car Championships is the eighth American Le Mans Series event held at scenic Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, nestled ...

Series Enters Season Finale For Monterey Sports Car Championships

MONTEREY, Calif. (October 17, 2006) -- The 2006 Monterey Sports Car Championships is the eighth American Le Mans Series event held at scenic Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, nestled between the California mountains and the Pacific Ocean. The 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course is one of four tracks to have played host to a Series event in each of its eight years. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca has hosted the Series finale since 2004.

Eighteen (18) drivers entered for the 2006 Laguna Seca round have scored a total of 27 Series victories there since 1999: Olivier Beretta (1999-2000 GTS, 2005 GT1); Jorg Bergmeister (2005 GT2); Frank Biela (2001-03 overall); David Brabham (2003 GTS); Rinaldo Capello (2000 overall); Romain Dumas (2004 GT); Tomas Enge (2002 GTS); Ron Fellows (2004 GTS); Clint Field (2004 P2); Oliver Gavin (2005 GT1); Butch Leitzinger (2003 LMP675), Lucas Luhr (2002 and 2003 GT, 2005 P2); Sascha Maassen (2002 and 2003 GT, 2005 P2); Allan McNish (2000 overall); Johnny Mowlem (1999 GT); Johnny O'Connell (2004 GTS); Emanuele Pirro (2001 and 2002 overall); and James Weaver (2003 LMP675).

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is the site of the closest finish in American Le Mans Series history. In 2000, the ORECA Viper of Olivier Beretta and Karl Wendlinger beat the Corvette C5-R of Ron Fellows and Andy Pilgrim in GTS by 0.001 seconds. Coincidentally, Beretta and Fellows are now Corvette Racing teammates.

The overall winning margins at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for each of the past seven years have been less than one lap with multiple lead-lap finishers. The breakdown:

2005: 1:15.064
2004: 56.832
2003: 82.283
2002: 25.799
2001: 1.602
2000: 0.352
1999: 13.889

Four drivers entered for the 2006 Laguna Seca event have competed in all seven previous Laguna Seca Series races (1999 through 2005): Ron Fellows, Jon Field, Sascha Maassen, and Johnny O'Connell. Noteworthy drivers who have yet to win in Monterey in the Series include Bill Auberlen, Timo Bernhard, Chris Dyson, Jon Field and Chris McMurry.

Two of the oldest speed records in the American Le Mans Series still stand at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Allan McNish set the LMP1 fastest race lap - 1:16:280 and 105.621 mph - in 2000. JJ Lehto and Steve Soper set the fastest winning speed in race history in 1999 - 98.837 mph.

Porsche is the winningest manufacturer in the Series at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with six class wins - five in GT2/GT and last year in LMP2. Porsche has four straight GT2 victories at Laguna Seca: Petersen/White Lightning in 2005 and 1999, and Alex Job Racing (2002-04).

All four winning entrants from 2005 are back at the Monterey Sports Car Championships in search of repeats: Zytek Engineering (LMP1), Penske Racing (LMP2), Corvette Racing (GT1) and Petersen/White Lightning (GT2).

Last year's overall win by Zytek broke a five-year win streak by Audi at Laguna Seca. Both Zytek and Audi are back this year with other LMP1 entries coming from Dyson Racing, Autocon and Creation Autosportif.

THOSE PRECIOUS AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS

In its eight-year history, the American Le Mans Series championship chase has never been closer. With seven Series championships still to be determined - three class drivers titles, 2 team championships, one tire (GT1) and one manufacturer (GT1) - the 23 championship points offered in the four-hour Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca are precious indeed!

Tiebreakers: Never before in Series history has the full gamut of tie-breaker solutions come into play. If there is a tie, the step-by-step system of tiebreakers includes: 1) Most wins in season; 2) Most second-place finishes that count in team standings, most third place finishes that count in team standings, etc. through 10th place. If there has been a 1-2 finish in a respective class involving a team with multiple cars, i.e., GT1 involving Corvette or Aston Martin, only the highest finishing car is counted in the team standings.

In LMP1, Audi R10 teammates Rinaldo (Dindo) Capello and Allan NcNish clinched a championship with a victory at Mosport. It was the second Series title for McNish (2000) and Capello's first.

In LMP2, Penske Racing's Sascha Maassen holds a 4-point lead on teammate Lucas Luhr heading into the final race. Maassen, a two-time GT champion, is 15 points ahead of Intersport Racing's Clint Field (the defending Series champion) and Liz Halliday. Penske Racing and Porsche clinched the team and manufacturers championship with its 1-2 finish at Road Atlanta.

In GT1, defending driving champions Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin lead Tomas Enge by 11 points, Stephane Sarrazin by 17 points and teammates Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell by 21 points. With four cars entered in the class, Gavin and Beretta must complete 70 percent of the distance covered by the overall winning car, based on the IMSA points scale. In the team championship, a real possibility exists of a tie between Aston Martin and Corvette if the DBR9s finish 1-2 and Corvette completes the required 70 percent.

In GT2, it's down to a two-driver shootout for the championship between season-long points leader Johannes van Overbeek (132) and Jorg Bergmeister (128). Bergmeister gained 14 points thanks to a win at Petit Le Mans by Petersen/White Lightning while van Overbeek and Flying Lizard Motorsports finished fifth. In the team championship, Risi Competizione leads by 6 points over Flying Lizard and 10 over Petersen/White Lightning.

Tickets and more information for the Monterey Sports Car Championships, the final event on the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca 50th Season of Racing calendar, are available by calling (800) 327-SECA or on-line at www.laguna-seca.com.

About Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and SCRAMP:

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was built in 1957 and has been operated since its inception by the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP). The world-renowned 2.238-mile, 11-turn permanent road course has seen many of the all-time greats in motorsports grace its technically challenging layout that includes the spectacular signature Corkscrew (Turns 8 and 8A). Among the many who have raced here are the likes of Mario Andretti, Wayne Rainey, Kenny Roberts, Eddie Lawson, Michael Andretti, Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones, Sir Stirling Moss, Sir Jackie Stewart and on and on through a virtual who's who of automobile and motorcycle racing. SCRAMP is a not-for-profit corporation that donates net proceeds from each race season to the volunteer organizations that help put on the events at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

-credit: laguna-seca.com

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Series ALMS
Drivers Tomas Enge , David Brabham , Rinaldo Capello , Allan McNish , Frank Biela , James Weaver , Karl Wendlinger , Michael Andretti , Ron Fellows , Johnny O'Connell , Andy Pilgrim , Stéphane Sarrazin , Bill Auberlen , Jackie Stewart , Jon Field , Sascha Maassen , Lucas Luhr , Dan Gurney , Mario Andretti , Parnelli Jones , Oliver Gavin , Jörg Bergmeister , Timo Bernhard , Kenny Roberts , Johannes van Overbeek , Clint Field , Chris McMurry , Wayne Rainey , Eddie Lawson , Stirling Moss , Romain Dumas , Olivier Beretta , Liz Halliday , Steve Soper , Alex Job , Chris Dyson , Emanuele Pirro , JJ Lehto
Teams Team Penske , Corvette Racing , Risi Competizione , Dyson Racing , Alex Job Racing