Welcome to the American Le Mans Series Grand Prix of Las Vegas. This is the eighth and final race of the inaugural ALMS Series season with championships in the balance for drivers, teams and manufacturers in all divisions. In the Women’s Global GT series, Cindi Lux has an almost insurmountable lead over second place Divina Galica, 101 points to 85, with 25 points available for a win. Cindi is driving this weekend with a partially torn Achilles tendon in her right foot as well as a badly strained right ankle. She is wearing a soft cast and is on crutches. Thirty-eight cars are entered for this event, 17 prototype, 13 GT and 8 GTS, with 16 cars in the WGGTS.
Changes to the entry list:
#15-P, add drivers Rick Sutherland, Los Gatos CA; Dave Cutler, Medina CA.
#83-GTS, add driver Stefano Buttiero, Monte Carlo Monaco.
Combined ALMS Prototype, GT, and GTS practice notes:
All 38 entered cars entered took to the track during the 1-hour practice session.
Top times by class: # 2-P 1:08.159, #1-P 1:08.979, #43-P 1:09.206; #91-GTS 1:15.750, #3-GTS 1:15.849, #92-GTS 1:16.520; #23-GT 1:19.301, #02-GT 1:19.808, #25-GT 1:20.008.
Women’s Global GT Series practice notes:
Top 5 times: #4 Galica 1:35.781, #13 Duncan 1:36.065, #21 Lux 1:36.319, #18 Endress 1:36.387, #11 Senske 1:36.411. As the cars spent more time on the track, between drivers getting used to the layout and the tires heating up, times started to improve. In the first 5 minutes the best overall time was in the 1:41 range. Over the next five minutes times dropped by another second, and by the end of the session lap times had improved by almost 4 seconds.
Divina Galica #4 (on the first session) "I enjoyed the track immensely and I think to post a quick time you need to draft. I drafted once. I overshot my braking and I didn’t realize I was running 10 miles [an hour] faster because of the draft. I had just passed a girl and she tucked in behind me and that pushed me. This is the first time we have actually felt the effects of a draft. It’s a fun track." (on the next session) "I’m going to try to get a draft more often. I didn’t realize that it works so well. Also I need to establish two braking points: one for the draft and one for running on my own." (on finding a drafting partner) "I want to talk to Cindi [Lux] because Cindi and I may be rivals for the championship, but we’re really good friends and we do share information. It would be nice if we helped each other." (on the championship) "I would be very lucky to win this championship. I’m 16 points behind Cindi and she has finished in the top 4 in every race. To expect her to suddenly finish eighth is pretty impossible. But you never know, something might happen. I’ve really enjoyed this series."
Cindi Lux #21 (on the session) "Not really good. It was a little confusing being the first time on the race track. We’re still just kind of putzing around. We’ll be alright." (on being affected by the draft) "Yeah, definitely. I think if we’re able to find a drafting partner, it will be a big advantage. I may have to go buy Divina a beer and talk to her into it. [looking around] Divina, come here …"
This weekend's Las Vegas Grand Prix (final round of the 1999 American Le Mans Series) also marks the end of the first round of a race against hunger sponsored by Olive Garden. Throughout the 1999 American Le Mans Series (ALMS), one needy family has been fed a hearty meal for every race lap completed by the two Olive Garden Ferrari 333 SPs entered by Doyle-Risi Racing. To date, the race team has completed 1163 laps in the Olive Garden Drive Against Hunger program, thus providing a like number of meals for needy families in ALMS cities such as Atlanta, San Francisco and Portland, Oregon.
ALMS combined GT and GTS qualification session 1:
At 12:10 pm – Green flag
At 12:14, #55-GTS sets fast lap in class at 1:18.421 (New track class record)
At 12:14, #02-GT sets fast lap in class at 1:19.713 (New track class record)
At 12:15, #55-GTS sets fast lap in class at 1:17.664 (NTR)
At 12:15, #25-GT sets fast lap in class at 1:19.292 (NTR)
At 12:16, #23-GT sets fast lap in class at 1:18.897 (NTR).
At 12:25, #92-GTS sets fast lap in class at 1:15.397 (NTR).
At 12:26, #92-GTS sets fast lap in class at 1:15.129 (NTR).
At 12:29, #91-GTS sets fast lap in class at 1:14.760 (NTR).
At 12:30, checkered flag.
Top three by class: #91-GTS 1:14.760, #92-GTS 1:15.129, #3-GTS 1:15.302;
#23-GT 1:18.897, #25-GT 1:19.180, #02-GT 1:19.713.
ALMS Prototype qualification session 1:
At 12:40, green flag.
At 12:44, #42-P sets fast lap in class at 1:08.887 (New track class record)
At 12:46, #43-P sets fast lap in class at 1:08.872 (NTR)
At 12:52, #2-P sets fast lap in class at 1:07.869 (NTR)
At 12:52, #2-P sets fast lap in class at 1:07.825 (NTR)
At 1:00, Checkered Flag.
Top three prototype: #2-P 1:07.825, #1-P 1:08.071, #75-P 1:08.864.
Ron Fellows (#3-GTS Chevrolet Corvette C5-R)(about qualifying session #1): "We're good. Our lap time is adequate. I feel like we've still got a shot at the pole. We just need to make some more grip. It was an interesting session- just ask Olivier."
Terry Borcheller (#55-GTS Saleen SR) "The car felt pretty good during this session. We were here last week for testing, and the car was great...hopefully tomorrow we can match the times from those sessions. It was tough to find a clean lap; I know we can get the times we need."
David Brabham (#1-P LMP-1 Roadster S/Ford) (after qualifying session #1): "I'm feeling pretty confident. The cars are running well. Michelin has come up with some great combinations for this track. It's still early and we still have a lot of work to do."
Jan Magnussen (#2-P Panoz LMP-1 Roadster S/Ford) "It's pretty slippery in the infield, but not crazy slippery. (laughing) I think we really should have a race on the oval. I think we're going to be good on the braking, but you've really got to be careful not to go over the limit. The traffic's going to be crazy in the race, just like all the races. Everybody's been good looking in their mirrors, but it's hard on the slower guys. They can look in the mirror, and everything's fine. The next instant they look, there's a prototype."
Olivier Beretta (#91-GTS Dodge Viper GTS-R) "It's very slippery. No grip. But we don't have to push it; we just have to finish the race. It's similar to Daytona, but the exit to the pits is very dangerous."
Karl Wendlinger (#92-GTS Dodge Viper GTS-R) "It's not very grippy, and it's going to be another race where traffic is a disaster. You really have to watch carefully. On a circuit like this it's OK if you run one category. Three is not good because they create so many different speeds."
Dirk Müller (#23-GT Porsche 911 GT3 R) "The track is a little like Daytona, but I like Daytona better because the pit entry and exit are safer over there. The pit exit is especially difficult here because you can't see the cars. I just look at the marshall and when he waves the green, I go. The bigger tires have the advantage here. We have to save our tires for the race, so it's not so easy."
J.J. Lehto (#42 BMW V12 LMR) "We’ve been struggling with the setup. We’re oversteering and understeering everywhere. We got one end a little bit better and now we have to fix the other end as well. We need to find about another 6 or 7 tenths [of a second per lap]. We’re really out of balance at the moment."
Elliot Forbes-Robinson (about problem in the morning session) "We've got some sort of electrical problem. We had it this morning and we thought we fixed it, but it showed back up in qualifying. The guys are going to change the engine tonight." (about race day strategy) "James will start and I'll run it second. We'll do it like we always have. We don't have the car to run up front but we'll run this car hard, like we have all year. We know we can be faster than the Panoz but we'll do what we've done all year. Hopefully we'll be out there and it'll work."
Hans Stuck (#6 BMW M3) "I'm 90 per cent happy with the car, still more fine-tuning with the chassis but the rest is okay. This is not a track worth the final race in the American Le Mans Series. This pit exit can be race-deciding. If you hit it in a bad way, you might lose a lap easily. They could easily change it and let us go on the banking."
Peter Cunningham (#7 BMW M3) "We need to take advantage of our strong points with the [BMW M3] handling and let the PTG crew have perfect pit stops. Our boys are some of the quickest out there already, but they're not taking that as good enough. They spent all day Wednesday working on pit stops and they shaved some more time off, so they're psyched and ready. That's going to be a huge advantage for us on Sunday."
Mark Simo (#10 BMW M3) "There isn't much to say right now. We gained some speed in qualifying over this morning's practice, but we still have a long way to go. The car was loose and we need to find a way to tighten it up. I just drove it like a practice session."
Eric van de Poele (#0-P Riley & Scott Mk III/Judd) (why the car did not qualify) "We did not qualify. We exploded a tire [in practice] and it destroyed the bodywork and floor. We didn’t have time to repair it before qualifying. ‘Mimmo’ [Schiattarella] was in the car. He locked up the wheels, flat spotted the tire and it exploded. It wasn’t the tire’s fault."
Only in Vegas: Congratulations to BMW Team PTG crew member Tom Fiddler and Barbara Michaud, who were married at Graceland Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas Thursday evening. "Elvis" serenaded the couple with Love me Tender and Viva Las Vegas.
Women’s Global GT Series second practice session:
Top three times: #4 Galica 1:34.557, #11 Senske 1:34.866, #21 Lux 1:34.984.
At the start of the session several cars "paired up" to try drafting the high speed sections of the course.
Cindi Lux "About 99 percent of the time I didn’t feel it. One or two times it really crept up on me. It is affecting my driving style a little bit. This last session we running the pace a little bit slower."
Allison Duncan (about session 2) "I felt faster. At the beginning I got caught in some traffic and lost quite a bit of time trying to avoid it. I came in and had the guys check my tire pressures to make sure I’m really where I think I am. I’m getting used to this new car and everyone else is driving their same car because I won at Laguna."
Sara Senske (about session 2) "It was pretty good. We made some big improvements from the last session. It’s just a matter of getting a feel for the car and how it works on the race track as opposed to open wheeled cars. I’m really pleased with the speed that we gained."