ZYTEK PROTOTYPE FASTEST IN FRIDAY PRACTICE Lexington, Ohio - This may be its first American Le Mans Series race, but the No. 15 Zytek factory prototype certainly looked at home during testing Friday for the American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio. Hayanari...
ZYTEK PROTOTYPE FASTEST IN FRIDAY PRACTICE
Lexington, Ohio - This may be its first American Le Mans Series race, but the No. 15 Zytek factory prototype certainly looked at home during testing Friday for the American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio. Hayanari Shimoda posted the best lap during a nearly two-hour session Friday, a 1:12.191 on only his eighth lap around Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Shimoda, who helped pilot the car to a victory in a 1,000-kilometer race at Belgium's famed Spa circuit in April, was less than .07 seconds behind the LMP1 qualifying record held by James Weaver, who set the mark last June. The 20-year-old Japanese driver is sharing driving duties with the U.K.'s Tom Chilton, himself a 20-year-old.
"This circuit is very good for us. I'm very happy to run here," Shimoda said. "The track seems very special. It has a lot of hills and seems like it has so many corners. It makes us very comfortable because our car performs well on this circuit. We're very positive about winning this race."
JJ Lehto in the No. 1 Champion Racing Audi R8 was about 0.7 seconds behind Shimoda. Weaver, in the No. 16 Dyson Racing Lola EX257, was another 0.4 seconds back in third.
In P2, the No. 37 Telesis Intersport Racing Lola B05/40 of Jon Field was fastest by nearly 3.5 seconds over the No. 10 Miracle Motorsports Courage C65 of Chris McMurry. Field's lap of 1:15.453 was more than a second faster than his Mid-Ohio class qualifying record of 1:16.559. Field and his son, Clint, are coming off a class victory at the Sportsbook.com Grand Prix of Atlanta, the most recent ALMS race.
In GT1, the No. 4 Corvette Racing C6-R of Oliver Gavin, who is teaming with Olivier Beretta, was fastest in class with a 1:19.153. That was about 0.35 seconds ahead of the No. 3 sister car, piloted by Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell. In GT2, the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Porsche of Timo Bernhard posted a lap of 1:23.182, about 0.2 seconds off his qualifying record set last June. He is sharing the car with Romain Dumas.
All ALMS classes are scheduled to practice from 9:35 to 10:35 a.m. Saturday, with another session from 1:20 to 2:20 p.m. GT1 and GT2 cars then will qualify from 2:30 to 2:50, followed by the prototypes from 2:55 to 3:15 p.m.
BUCKNUM IN ROUTE: Miracle Motorsports driver Jeff Bucknum may be a little late getting to Mid-Ohio, but he has a good excuse. Bucknum spent Thursday and Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway practicing for the Indy 500. Driving for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing in a Honda-powered Dallara, Bucknum posted an average speed of 221.521 mph in last weekend's qualifying round. That was good enough for 21st position and virtually guaranteeing him a spot in the Memorial Day race.
"It was the best time we could do at that moment," Bucknum said. "When you're at Indy, you pretty much set up the car where you don't lift for four laps. Does the car have more in it? Yes, but we didn't need it. Given more time, I have no doubt the car can do 227."
Thanks to his qualifying effort, Bucknum won't need to make another qualifying run at Indy. "I've got a job to do Saturday and Sunday," he said. "I'm in the field and have no reason to go qualify again."
MAKING NEW NEWS: Sure, it was a great victory, the first for the Panoz Esperante. But the GT2 win at the Sportsbook.com Grand Prix of Atlanta is old news, said Robin Liddell, who drove the No. 50 entry's last stint at Road Atlanta. It was Liddell who was knocked off the track by Timo Bernhard in the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Porsche in the final five minutes but claimed the victory when Bernhard was assessed a stop-and-go penalty.
A victory this weekend at Mid-Ohio, where the Esperante debuted last season, would show that the events at Road Atlanta were no fluke. "It's time to make some new news," Liddell said.
Liddell, driving this weekend with Bill Auberlen, was fourth-fastest in class Friday.
The American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio is set for noon EDT May 22 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. CBS Sports will broadcast the event from 1 to 3 p.m. EDT, and live coverage will be available on American Le Mans Series Radio at www.americanlemans.com. Qualifying is set for 2:30 to 3:15 p.m. Saturday.