BY THE NUMBERS: PORTLAND GRAND PRIX Braselton, Ga. - To say the Portland Grand Prix shook up the championship race for the American Le Mans Series would be a bit of an understatement. The weekend saw drivers standings change in three different...
BY THE NUMBERS: PORTLAND GRAND PRIX
Braselton, Ga. - To say the Portland Grand Prix shook up the championship race for the American Le Mans Series would be a bit of an understatement. The weekend saw drivers standings change in three different classes, and two team championship leads changed hands as well.
It's getting toward crunch time with four events and 89 points possible points up for grabs in all four ALMS classes. Next up is the Generac 500 at Road America Aug. 19-21, Round 7 of the 10-round ALMS.
Already, Michelin has clinched the LMP1 tire championship, thanks to victories in each of the ALMS' six rounds this year. Michelin supplies tires for Champion Racing's two Audi R8s and Dyson Racing's two Lola EX 257s.
With their second victory in a row, Emanuele Pirro and Frank Biela went from a tie for third to sharing the lead in the LMP1 drivers standings. Pirro was at the wheel of the No. 2 Champion Racing Audi R8 for the final stint Saturday when he went by James Weaver, whose No. 16 Dyson Racing Lola lost fuel pressure with two laps left while leading. Coupled with a rare DNF for Champion's No. 1 Audi of JJ Lehto and Marco Werner, Biela and Pirro went from 3 points down entering the weekend to 11 points ahead of Dyson Racing's Andy Wallace.
"We did a great job this weekend," Biela said. "The car was prepared well, the crew guys found a great set-up for us, and we were really confident going into the race. For us it was a good race, a good weekend and very important for the Championship."
In LMP2, Clint Field now finds himself leading the drivers chase, thanks to his second consecutive victory in the No. 37 Intersport Lola, this time paired with Gregor Fisken. Coupled with Miracle Motorsports' DNF, Field leads Jeff Bucknum and Chris McMurry by 11 points. Intersport is ahead in the team race by that margin, as well.
Corvette Racing gave itself additional distance in the GT1 team standings with another 1-2 finish at Portland. The team could clinch a fifth straight title with a victory at Road America and if ACEMCO's Saleen finishes sixth (a fifth-place ACEMCO finish would mean Corvette clinches at least a tie).
The Ollies (Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta) are gaining ground in the drivers race with their victory in the No. 4 Corvette C6-R at Portland. They still trail teammates and defending GT1 champs Johnny O'Connell and Ron Fellows by 11 points.
GT2 saw Alex Job Racing and drivers Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas move to the front in the class standings. Driving the No. 23 AJR Porsche, Bernhard and Dumas led from flag-to-flag for the second straight week while previous point leaders Patrick Long and Jorg Bergmeister in the No. 31 Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Porsche finished eighth after spending time early in the pits.
"They finally had some bad luck that we were able to capitalize on," Dumas said. "We seem to be getting faster every race. The team is giving us a really good car and we are taking care of business on the track. It will be nice to have Petersen chasing us for a while."
Two other title chases could come to an end at Road America: GT1 tire manufacturer, where Michelin leads Goodyear by 63 points; and GT2 auto manufacturer, where Porsche leads Panoz by 68 points.
FOUR AND COUNTING: Bernhard and Dumas are inching closer to rewriting the record books in the ALMS and passing a couple of pretty impressive names. The two now are tied for the series' GT2 mark for consecutive wins with four (Mid-Ohio to Portland) alongside Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr.
Generally thought of as one of the greatest driving duos in ALMS history, Maassen and Luhr won four straight GT2 races starting at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 2002 and continued it through Sebring the following year.
Former GT1 competitor Karl Wendlinger holds the record for consecutive wins regardless of class with seven during the 1999 and 2000 seasons.
FAST ANDY: Wallace came into this year with two pole positions. He now has that many in two straight races. One more, and he'll tie Biela for the longest LMP1 streak in series annals.
So what's been the secret to Wallace's success on qualifying day? He explained it like this: "Get in the car, strap yourself in and pedal like a madman for one minute, 2.7 seconds, and it works every time!"
Ex-GT1 driver Dirk Muller set a record in 2000 with eight straight poles.
The seventh round of the American Le Mans Series is the Generac 500 at Road America, set for 3 p.m. EDT Aug. 21 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. The race will be broadcast on SPEED Channel. Qualifying is scheduled for 2:55 p.m. EDT Aug. 20. American Le Mans Radio, and Live Timing and Scoring will be available at www.americanlemans.com.