Weaver Smashes Record in Leading Friday American Le Mans Test at Mid-Ohio
Lexington, OH - James Weaver unofficially smashed the existing American Le Mans Series track record as he led Friday's test session for Sunday's American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Weaver, driving the Dyson Racing Lola EX257-AER/MG that he will share with Butch Leitzinger, turned the 2.25-mile circuit in a time of 1:13.448, faster than the official ALMS track record of 1:14.169 set by Frank Biela the last time the series raced at Mid-Ohio in 2002. Drivers will try to officially break the record in qualifying that will be held Saturday.
Only .199 second behind and also faster than the record was the ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 of JJ Lehto and Marco Werner at 1:13.647, followed by the second Dyson entry of Chris Dyson and Andy Wallace at 1:14.686.
"We're pleased of course with how the first session went, and I think this shows the value of coming here to test after Sebring," said Weaver. "And this is a course that suits our Lola. But the Audi was very quick too, and I think that it'll be interesting when qualifying comes."
The two-hour testing session ended 10 minutes early due to a crash between turns nine and 10 involving the GTS class Krohn-Barbour Racing Lamborghini Murcielago R-GT of Tracy Krohn and the GT class Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Lonnie Pechnik. Though neither driver was injured, the session was brought to a halt due to the time required to pick up the cars and the debris from the crash. The Flying Lizard car was damaged beyond repair and the team will replace it for this race with a 2003 Porsche 911 GT3 RS, while the Lamborghini team was still trying to effect repairs.
"The car picked up a little push and I ran wide onto the curbs," said Krohn. "I was coming back off the curbs onto the racing line when I felt a thump; I don't know where he (Pechnik) came from, it's kind of blind there anyway. After that the car half-spun."
"When I saw the Lamborghini with two wheels off the track on the fast downhill, I moved as far right as possible," said Pechnik. "The Lamborghini came across the track and took us into the guardrail. It really is a shame; the team worked extremely hard to prepare #44 and have done a spectacular job. The RS will not be quite as competitive but we are looking forward to getting back into competition."
The Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C5-R of Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta was the fastest car in the GTS class during the test session with a lap of 1:20.017, also faster than the existing track record of 1:21.401 set in 2001 by Terry Borcheller. The other Corvette of Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell was second in GTS at 1:21.232, followed by Borcheller and Johnny Mowlem in the ACEMCO Saleen S7R at 1:21.245.
"The balance of the car is very good, although the track is very green," said Gavin, fresh from his second GTS class win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. "Throughout the session the team made some changes which made it much better. I'm happy with the progress the team made."
Near the end of the session, Gavin had an off-track excursion, damaging the car's rear diffuser. "I went off at turn one, and I think it was due to new tires which weren't properly up to temperature," he said. "Into turn one I went right, left, and then right and slid inside and down the corner. The car was still running so I got out of the grass and back on the track. Unfortunately we broke the rear diffuser in sliding across the grass, so the boys will have to fix that but otherwise the car is in good shape."
The Team Bucknum Racing Pilbeam MP91 of Jeff Bucknum, Bryan Willman and Chris McMurry led the LMP2 class in the test session with a time of 1:20.507, followed by the Intersport Racing Lola B2K/40-Judd of Clint Field and Robin Liddell at 1:25.717. The Intersport car did not get on the track until late in the session and managed only seven laps before time ran out.
Until the crash, it had been a good day for the Flying Lizard team, in its first season of ALMS racing, as the team's two cars were first and third in the GT class. Fastest in class was the team's Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Johannes van Overbeek and Darren Law at 1:23.705, followed by the Alex Job Racing Porsche of Timo Bernhard and Jorg Bergmeister at 1:24.598. Pechnik, who is co-driving with Seth Neiman, had set the session's third-fastest time of 1:24.774 prior to the accident.
"The car is very good," said Law, who was driving when the car set the fast time. "The team has done an unbelievable job of developing it since Sebring. But there is no need to get too excited yet. This is just the first practice of the weekend."
American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio will be Round Two of the 2004 season for the ALMS and will include a two-hour, 45-minute timed event on Sunday, June 27. Practice and qualifying will be held on Saturday, June 26, along with an autograph session featuring all ALMS drivers and an ALMS Fan Forum.
The race will be televised live by CBS Sports in North America and MotorsTV in Europe and will be broadcast live by the American Le Mans Series Radio Web online at www.americanlemans.com. Ticket information for the Mid-Ohio event is available online at www.americanlemans.com or by calling 1-800-MID-OHIO.