Laguna Seca: Rahal Letterman Racing preview

HILLIARD, Ohio - In Eminem's hit Lose Yourself, the controversial rapper asked the question 'if you had one shot or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment, would you capture it, or let it slip?' For the Rahal Letterman...

HILLIARD, Ohio - In Eminem's hit Lose Yourself, the controversial rapper asked the question 'if you had one shot or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment, would you capture it, or let it slip?'

For the Rahal Letterman Racing squad, this weekend's visit to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the American Le Mans Series season finale leaves the team with just one four-hour shot to grab victory after being achingly close on a number of occasions this season.

Another one of those occasions is sitting front and center in the minds of the first-year ALMS squad and drivers Ralf Kelleners and Tom Milner as its Bell Micro-sponsored GT2 Porsche nearly scored its initial win just two weeks ago at the Petit Le Mans. The team ran at the front of the GT2 field for the majority of the 1,000-mile race and finished a strong third, but lamented what could have been as three stops to repair and change flat tires likely made the difference between a spot on the podium and the bottles of champagne that sit atop it.

"Laguna is the last race of the season unfortunately. We've had such a great car pretty much all season that it's been a lot of fun racing for the team," Milner said. "Laguna should be another good race for us. We have a setup on the car that we are confident in and can start playing around to look for speed. We did well at Petit Le Mans but we have our eyes on that first win."

The first-year team is prepared to take that win, having carded three podium finishes in the last four starts, a streak that was derailed only by a driveline failure at Belle Isle. And while the team comes to the fabled 2.238-mile Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca layout for the first time in a sportscar, its drivers have a strong history on the challenging circuit. Milner scored a top-five run last season in his ALMS debut at MRLS, while Kelleners finished second in both 2002 and 2003 and came home fourth in 2004.

"To drive in Laguna is always exciting," Kelleners enthused. "It is one of the most beautiful, challenging circuits in the United States and comes with a big history. It's a perfect place for visitors as well because you can oversee a lot of the circuit from only one view point."

The four-hour event will not only give RLR a final chance for a win this year, it can also boost both drivers into the third spot in the final championship standings. Both Milner and Kelleners are just 16 points behind Wolf Henzler for third with the four-hour race this weekend paying 23 to win. The team has outscored everyone in the GT2 class with the exception of the class-leading Risi Ferrari over the last four races and the RLR squad is the only first-year outfit to hold a top-five berth in the points this year.

"The racing is so competitive in GT2 that to be as competitive as we've been for the second half of the season goes to show how strong this team is," Milner said. "They're competing against other teams that have been racing Porsches and GT cars for many years. RLR has come in and right away been at the top of the pile."

Bobby Rahal To Be Honored At Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

Already immortalized at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca a few years ago when the long, uphill straight between turns six and seven of the track was renamed as the Bobby Rahal Straight, three-time IndyCar/CART champion Bobby Rahal will be enshrined in the first class of the Legends of Laguna Seca this weekend. One of the few champions in racing history to climb into any type of racecar available and drive it to win - Rahal began his long association with the Monterey circuit back in 1978 when he won a Can-Am race. Rahal won a track-record four consecutive IndyCar races at Laguna Seca from 1984 to 1987, then won three more MRLS crowns as a team co-owner at Rahal Letterman Racing when Bryan Herta (1998-99) and Max Papis (2001) took Laguna trophies back to the team's Ohio base camp. Rahal joins sportscar, IndyCar and Formula 1 star Dan Gurney, multi-time motorcycle champion Wayne Rainey and Pete Lovely, the winner of the first race back in 1957, in the inaugural class of the Legends of Laguna Seca.The Legends will be memorialized in a walk of fame tribute in the Corkscrew area.

-credit: rlr

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Ralf Kelleners , Max Papis , Bobby Rahal , Bryan Herta , Dan Gurney , Wayne Rainey , Wolf Henzler , Pete Lovely