Portland is the scene of the battleground

Portland is the scene of the battleground

In today's test session for the American Le Mans Series, Champion Racing's JJ Lehto set the fastest unofficial practice time in the blistering heat with an equally blistering lap of 1:05.977. This gave Lehto's Audi R8 a comfortable margin of...

In today's test session for the American Le Mans Series, Champion Racing's JJ Lehto set the fastest unofficial practice time in the blistering heat with an equally blistering lap of 1:05.977. This gave Lehto's Audi R8 a comfortable margin of 0.828 seconds over the second-fastest #16 Dyson Racing Lola EX257 AER.

#38 Team ADT Champion Racing Audi R8: JJ Lehto, Marco Werner.
Photo by Greg Nichols.
"The track is pretty simple," Lehto explained. "There are some nice, long corners where you really need to find a good setup for the car. But with the Audi we don't really need to work on the setups as much as just finding the right tires and just fine-tune the car all over."

Lehto is making his fifth visit to the Portland track, having previously driven here in 1996 with CART, and then three times in ALMS, starting in 1999.

"I'm just now learning it but I think I'm at a competitive pace," mused Marco Werner, Lehto's co-driver at Champion Racing. "We'll do some minor setup changes and hopefully be even quicker (Saturday)."

#16 Dyson Racing Team Inc Lola AER: James Weaver, Butch Leitzinger.
Photo by Tom Haapanen.
Unlike the previous three ALMS race weekends, James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger were not able to keep close in touch with the Audi, at least on the test day. The #20 sister car, with drivers Andy Wallace and Chris Dyson, was third.

The #37 Intersport Racing Lola did not make it into this weekend's event in Portland due to the heavy damaged to the tub suffered in Sears Point. The team is planning for a return to P1 class action at Mosport.

The team's P2 car, the #30 Lola B2K/40 Judd was fastest in the P2 class today, though, over one second better than the Team Bucknum Racing Pilbeam MP91 Wilman 6 and the Miracle Motorsports Lola B2K/40 Nissan. Of course, this was a test day where the teams prepare their setups as the series returns to Portland for the first time in two years.

GTS honors today went to the #3 Corvette Racing C5-R -- winner of last weekend's race at Sears Point -- followed closely by the other Corvette, the #4 sister car. Johnny O'Connell set a time of 1:10.974 for the top GTS time, followed by Oliver Gavin in the #4 car at 1:11.134.

#3 Corvette Racing Corvette C5-R: Ron Fellows, Johnny O'Connell.
Photo by Jonathan Heiliger.
"One of the benefits of these high temperatures is that we can bring our tires up to speed very quickly, O'Connell explained. "(Teammate Ron Fellows) and I have a few more things we want to change on the car, but I think we're happy with our first day on track."

ACEMCO Motorsports Saleen S7R was close behind -- two tenths off the #4 Corvette's time -- to garner third fast time.

The battle of the evenly matched Porsches in GT saw the #24 Alex Job Racing ahead of BAM! and the #23 AJR team car.

The battleground for tomorrow's practice and then qualifying has been laid down by the same teams who have dominated this season. Tomorrow will showcase the best endurance sportscars as they attempt to prepare for the two-hour and forty-five minute race on Sunday.

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Andy Wallace , Butch Leitzinger , James Weaver , Ron Fellows , Johnny O'Connell , Oliver Gavin , Marco Werner , Alex Job , Chris Dyson , JJ Lehto
Teams Corvette Racing , Dyson Racing , Alex Job Racing