This weekend's TORONT0 Grand Prix of Mosport holds key to season success for top GT Porsche ALMS Teams as schedule shows three races in four weeks ATLANTA, GA -- August 13 -- Despite his Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona and 24 Hours of Le Mans win in...
This weekend's TORONT0 Grand Prix of Mosport holds key to season success for top GT Porsche ALMS Teams as schedule shows three races in four weeks
ATLANTA, GA -- August 13 -- Despite his Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona and 24 Hours of Le Mans win in 2002, Kevin Buckler and his Sonoma, California-based The Racer's Group Porsche 911 GT3 RS team did not have much of a shot at the American Le Mans Series GT driv ers championship going into last year's event at Mosport Park.
Then, the week before the event, Buckler injured his ribs in a crash at Watkins Glen, and things really looked bleak. "I told my co-driver, Brian Cunningham, that I would start the race and drive 45 minutes -- enough to get points -- and he would have to do a two-hour stint. My 45 minutes hurt like hell, but Brian got in the car and sprinted to victory, giving us a springboard to finish third in points -- splitti ng the factory drivers. We need that kind of turn-around again this weekend to get back in the points chase," said Buckler, whose co-driver this year is 1999 ALMS GT champion Cort Wagner.
Earlier this season, Buckler and The Racer's Group regular Michael Schrom teamed with factory drivers Jorg Bergmeister and Timo Bernhard to win the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona outright.
The other two The Racer's Group Porsches will be driven by Schrom and a Thdriver yet-to-be-named, and Chris Gleason/Marc Bunting. is weekend's ThToronto Grand Prix of Mosport, run on the 2.459-mile, 10-turn circuit Thnorth of Toronto, will be broadcast live on NBC-TV starting at 2:00 PM
EDT this Sunday, August 17. NBC will expand its broadcast to two hours, 30 minutes over its usual two hour coverage of the ALMS events. Veteran announcers Rick Benjamin and Bill Adam will describe the action.
A team which is having a terrific season so far, but would like to forget last year's Mosport event is the Alex Job Racing. Between mechanical problems and accidents -- including a shunt that left one of the cars without a door, it was the team's worst two -car finish of last year's championship season. Having won all four ALMS races so far this season, car owner Job would like to look forward, not back.
"We're having a great season so far, with the Lucas Luhr/Sascha Maassen McKenna Porsche winning three events and the Timo Bernhard/Jorg Bergmeister team car winning once. We are making less mistakes as a team, and that is paying off in the winner's circle ," said Job, whose Tavares, Florida-based team is the only American Le Mans Series entrant to participate in every ALMS event since the series inception in 1999. Luhr has won the GT class at the 12 Hours of Sebring a record four years in a row, tying the mark set in the '60s by veteran Bob Holbert. At the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year, Alex Job Racing partnered with Petersen Motorsports of Las Vegas, and, along with Emmanuel Collard, Luhr and Maassen captured the GT class. Maassen has more wins than any ALMS driver in the history of the series with 18 victories, and is the only ALMS driver to win a race in each year of the series.
Another team looking for a turn-around is the Jupiter, Florida-based Orbit Racing YES Network Porsche, which will be driven this weekend by Peter Baron and Porsche factory racer Marc Lieb. Although last week's seventh-place finish was their best of the se ason, contact with a prototype knocked them out of the top three running order.
Three weeks ago, Lieb after teamed with Romain Dumas and Stephane Ortelli in a Porsche FIA-GT Group N car to win the 24 Hours of Spa overall, quite an accomplishment for a GT-class car. Lieb, Baron and Leo Hindery drove together at the 24 hours of Le Mans in June, finishing second in GT. In February, Lieb put the Orbit car on the pole in GT at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.
Seikel Motorsports, based both in the U.S. and in Germany, will have a local flavor this weekend as both drivers for its Porsche are from Toronto. Tony Burgess and David Shep have driven the Mosport circuit hundreds of times, and could surprise the visitors from the U.S. After breaking through with a third spot on the qualifying grid, the British-based PK Sport Porsche 911 GT3 RS team is still looking for its first good finish this season. The lead car, to be driven by PK Sport regular Robin Liddell from Scotland, will also feature veteran GT driver Vic Rice. The second PK Sport car will be driven by Piers Masarati from London and local racer John Graham from Toronto.
One Porsche team making progress through the top ten in class is the J-3 Racing Porsche of Justin Jackson, and former SCCA World Challenge champion David Murry, who moved smartly through the field to finish sixth in Sonoma in July. They then scored their first podium finish of the year at Trois-Rivieres, only to be disqualified for a bodywork infraction. J-3 has appealed that disqualification, and the results may be released this weekend at Mosport. The ALMS teams have a tough stretch coming up, going to Road America, in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, the following weekend, and to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca September 7 -- three races in four weeks.
The Toronto Grand Prix of Mosport will be broadcast live on the NBC-TV starting at 2:00 PM Eastern Daylight time on Sunday, August 17. The entire event, along with Saturday qualifying, will be broadcast live online on the American Le Mans Radio Web, which can be accessed on the Web at www.americanlemans.com.
Live timing and scoring for qualifying and the race are also available at www.americanlemans.com on Saturday and Sunday.