Lime Rock: Pre-race notebook

NEW ENGLAND GRAND PRIX NOTEBOOK INTERSPORT WITHDRAWS NO. 37 LOLA FROM NEW ENGLAND GRAND PRIX AT LIME ROCK PARK Lakeville, Conn. - The No. 37 Intersport Racing Lola has been withdrawn from Monday's New England Grand Prix, Round 4 of the...

NEW ENGLAND GRAND PRIX NOTEBOOK

INTERSPORT WITHDRAWS NO. 37 LOLA FROM NEW ENGLAND GRAND PRIX AT LIME ROCK PARK

Lakeville, Conn. - The No. 37 Intersport Racing Lola has been withdrawn from Monday's New England Grand Prix, Round 4 of the American Le Mans Series. The car was to be driven by the father-son duo of Jon and Clint Field, who teamed to win the Grand Prix of Atlanta in the ALMS' second race of 2005.

Intersport personnel were unable to get the car through a lengthy customs clearing process as it returned to the United States from the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Lola, driven at Le Mans by Sam Hancock, Gregor Fisken and Liz Halliday, consistently has been the fastest car in the ALMS' LMP2 class. But reliability issues plagued the car at Sebring and Mid-Ohio, both tracks where the Intersport team was leading in class before having to retire.

The team plans to return to ALMS racing at the Infineon Technologies Grand Prix of Sonoma presented by Ravenswood Winery, scheduled for July 17 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.

MAZDA MOTORING ON: The Mazda rotary engine that supplies power to the No. 8 B-K Motorsports Courage C65 has been undergoing testing and development since its LMP2 class victory at the American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio, the most recent round of the ALMS. But the team isn't necessarily searching for power.

"There are no miraculous changes coming. It's just part of the program," said John Doonan, team director of marketing and public relations. "The two keys things are to maintain the reliability of the rotary engine and look for ways to get better fuel mileage out of the motor. We're not seeing major horsepower increases. It goes back to the foundation of this thing. In and of itself, it already has astonishing reliability. That's the hallmark of the Mazda rotary engine. We're definitely looking forward to the longer races, Petit and Sebring and hopefully a trip to France."

Since debuting in April, Jamie Bach and Guy Cosmo have driven the No. 8 entry to a second-place class finish at Road Atlanta and the first class win for a Mazda in the series at Mid-Ohio. Since then, the team has had a couple of independent test sessions leading up to the ALMS' critical July stretch.

"It was a chance to get Guy and Jamie more seat time in the car," Doonan said. "Each of them has been in the car maybe three hours total. That includes practices and qualifying. The real opportunity is to get them more time. We want to stay on course to be around at the finish and pound out laps."

WELCOME WOLF: Wolf Henzler, a standout in the SPEED World Challenge Touring Series, will join fellow German Mike Rockenfeller in the No. 43 BAM! Porsche at Lime Rock and likely the remaining ALMS schedule for 2005.

Rockenfeller is coming off a GT2 class win at Le Mans, where he teamed with Marc Lieb and Leo Hindery in the No. 71 Alex Job Racing-BAM! Porsche. Hindery thinks Rockenfeller and Henzler rank near the top of the list of young, upcoming sports car drivers.

"I think there is so little that separates these several young Porsche factory drivers that Wolf clearly belongs among the elite of Mike, Marc, Romain Dumas, Timo Bernhard, Jorg Bergmesiter, Patrick Long and the most accomplished ever, who were Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr."

CHAMPION PERSPECTIVES: JJ Lehto and Marco Werner know a thing or two about winning in the ALMS (Lehto has 22 victories, Werner 13). So it should come as no surprise that the No. 1 Champion Racing Audi R8 duo expect a tough fight at Lime Rock from Dyson Racing's two Lolas.

"Their car is very good but our Audi R8 is more reliable," said Lehto, who teamed with Werner and Tom Kristensen to win overall at Le Mans. "Also, our team is very good in tactics, strategy, and pit stops. Those are the reasons we can beat the Dyson cars. Not because we are faster because, we are definitely not faster."

Werner said Lime Rock's high-speed corners and relatively long straights favor the nimble Dyson cars rather than the Audis, as evidenced by Dyson's pole position last year. But he also conceded that Champion Racing, which also is fielding the No. 2 Audi R8 of Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro, has a few tricks up its sleeve, too.

"Their cars are lighter and go through the tight corners faster," Werner said. "Their advantage is their lighter weight. Our advantage is our reliability and teamwork. It will definitely be a good fight just like it was last year."

AROUND THE PADDOCK: The No. 10 Miracle Motorsports Courage was a late entry to the New England Grand Prix. Team owner John Macaluso said he wanted to see how the car came out of Le Mans before committing to the race. . Twenty youth from the Stanford, Conn., area will be at Lime Rock Monday as part of the Salvation Army Grid Kids program. The Grid Kids will receive VIP passes to the race, a paddock tour, souveniers, autographs and a visit to the Petersen Motorsports/ White Lightning Racing transporter, as well as the chance to meet and talk to team members. . Fabio Babini will replace Fabrizio DeSimone in the No. 35 Maserati Corse MC12 this weekend. DeSimone hurt his foot last week at his home in Italy. . Just a few days before his injury, DeSimone conducted a tire test for Pirelli in the Maserati. The Italian said Maserati Corse is looking for consistency in from Pirellis, although he added that the tire company has been a first-class partner this year. So far, the MC12 has posted one podium finish in GT1, that at the Grand Prix of Atlanta.

The New England Grand Prix, Round 4 of the ALMS, is set for 3 p.m. Monday at Lime Rock Park. SPEED Channel will provide live coverage, along with American Le Mans Series Radio at www.americanlemans.com. Qualifying will begin at 2:55 p.m. Saturday.

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Series ALMS
Drivers Tom Kristensen , Frank Biela , Guy Cosmo , Sascha Maassen , Lucas Luhr , Leo Hindery , Timo Bernhard , John Macaluso , Patrick Long , Marco Werner , Marc Lieb , Romain Dumas , Fabio Babini , Mike Rockenfeller , Liz Halliday , Sam Hancock , Wolf Henzler , Alex Job , Emanuele Pirro , JJ Lehto
Teams Dyson Racing , Alex Job Racing