Cadillac sets fast time in Friday'S rainy Mosport practice,

BOWMANVILLE, Ont., Canada (August 16, 2002) -- A few days after announcing that it would discontinue its racing program at the end of 2002, Cadillac was on top of the time sheets Friday as practice began for Sunday's American Le Mans Series Grand Prix of Mosport.

JJ Lehto, driving a Cadillac Northstar LMP 02, turned a lap of 1:11.446 on the 2.459-mile Mosport International Raceway, the fastest lap recorded in a two-hour session that was hampered by rain. Lehto's time was set early in the session when rain had just started to dampen the track and before a passing thunderstorm brought practice to a halt.

Lehto, from Finland, will co-drive in Sunday's race with Italian Max Angelelli.

"Not bad," said Lehto, who joined the Cadillac team this year. "The car has improved greatly since I last drove it, and that was in June at Le Mans. Here we need more downforce and they have developed a new aerodynamic kit and the car was pretty good to drive.

"I wasn't surprised (and being fastest) because we tested here at Mosport for two days last week and were faster then," he said. "There was just too much traffic today and I couldn't get a clear lap. If things stay the same on Sunday, we should be in great shape."

The rainy conditions proved to be costly to the Panoz Motor Sports team as Jan Magnussen crashed one of the Panoz LMP-1 Prototypes in turn nine near the end of the session. The car, which had set the second-fastest time of the day at 1:12.721, suffered extensive rear-end damage when backing into a tire barrier.

Third-fastest was the Audi R8 of Rinaldo Capello and Tom Kristensen at 1:13.363, followed by the Champion Racing Audi R8 of Johnny Herbert and Stefan Johansson at 1:13.487. The Panoz LMP-1 of Bill Auberlen and Bryan Herta was fifth at 1:13.599.

The Dyson Racing team debuted its new Lola EX257-AER MG machine and set the fastest time in the LMP 675 class for smaller Prototypes. With James Weaver at the wheel, the car turned a lap of 1:15.306. Weaver will co-drive with Butch Leitzinger and Chris Dyson.

Production-based GTS and GT cars practiced before the track became totally wet, and Ron Fellows led with a lap of 1:16.819, approaching his own record of 1:16.675 that was set two years ago. The Chevrolet Corvette C5R driver will be going for his seventh consecutive GTS class pole in Saturday's qualifying. He and co-driver Johnny O'Connell have been class winners in four races this season.

In the GT class, the Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RS driven by Lucas Luhr set the fastest time of the day with a lap of 1:21.539. Luhr and co-driver Sascha Maassen have won four of the six ALMS races this season.

The Grand Prix of Mosport will start at 1 p.m. (EDT) on Sunday and will be televised live by NBC Sports beginning at 2 p.m. The American Le Mans Series Radio Web will have live coverage of the entire event, as well as of Saturday's qualifying session. The qualifying broadcast will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday.