Laguna Seca Point Battles in All Classes

INDIANAPOLIS, Oct. 4, 1999 - Torrid point battles in all three American Le Mans Series classes highlight the VISA Sportscar Championships Oct. 8-10 at Laguna Seca Raceway and new competitors from England are preparing to make their first...

INDIANAPOLIS, Oct. 4, 1999 - Torrid point battles in all three American Le Mans Series classes highlight the VISA Sportscar Championships Oct. 8-10 at Laguna Seca Raceway and new competitors from England are preparing to make their first series start. In the prototype class, which has drawn 20 of the 48 total entries, Elliott Forbes-Robinson holds a one-point lead over David Brabham, 112-111, with Brabham's Panoz Motor Sports teammate third at 110. Forbes-Robinson will share a Dyson Racing Riley & Scott Mk III/Ford with James Weaver. Forbes-Robinson's lead has been the result of consistency. His cars have finished in the top 10 in all six series races to date with an average finishing position of 3.83 and have completed 1,168 of a possible 1,183 race laps. Olivier Beretta, who has co-driven to victory in the last four outings in the GTS class for Dodge Viper Team Oreca, caught season-long leader Martin Snow with the last victory in the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta and also holds a slim edge, 104-97. Beretta will again be teamed with David Donohue at Laguna Seca. In the GT division, Cort Wagner holds a 122-117 edge over San Franciscan Johannes van Overbeek in the driver standings as Porsche leads BMW in the manufacturers championship, 141-136. Wagner is paired with Germany's Dirk Muller in a Porsche 911 GT3 R and van Overbeek will share the cockpit with Mark Simo in one of three BMW M3s. The Sintura S99, a Judd V10-powered car from the British BRDC GT Championship, is entered for the first time in an American Le Mans Series race with Richard Dean and Kurt Luby of England scheduled to be aboard. Dean and Luby are the reigning champions in the British series. The Sintura made its debut in the fourth race of the season in England and has two pole positions and a victory at Silverstone. Those drivers and others will be trying to extend streaks at Laguna. J.J. Lehto of Monaco has set the fastest race laps in the last three American Le Mans Series races in one of the Le Mans and Sebring-winning BMW V12 LMRs. He's teamed with Steve Soper of England in one, while Bill Auberlen of Redondo Beach, Calif., and Joachim Winkelhcok of Germany will be in the other. The Porsche of Wagner and Muller has set the fastest GT race laps in the last three series outings and Muller has a current streak of three consecutive poles and three consecutive fastest race laps. Viper drivers Beretta, Tommy Archer, David Donohue and Karl Wendlinger each have four straight podium finishes in the GTS class. In all, the driver lineup is strong with 10 Formula One veterans on the entry list. In addition to Brabham, Lehto, Beretta and Wendlinger, they include Mimmo Schiattarella, Erik Comas, Jan Magnussen, Alex Caffi, Stefan Johansson and Hans Stuck are in the field. Practice and qualifying are scheduled Friday, Oct. 8 and Saturday, Oct. 9, when competitors will be shooting at the sports car track record of 101.212 miles an hour set in 1997 by Andrea Montermini in a Ferrari 333 SP. The VISA Sportscar Championships will be aired live on CNBC starting at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 10. Both the American Le Mans Series and companion Women's Global GT Series qualifying and races will be aired live on the Radio Le Mans Web at www.americanlemans.com.

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