Utah: LMP1 class - Autocon spotlight

AUTOCON STRIVING TO STAY ON TRACK TOOELE, Utah (July 12, 2006) - First came the Founders Cup and first class podium spot at Mid-Ohio, then a second-place finish in LMP1 at Lime Rock Park. So what's in store for Autocon ...

AUTOCON STRIVING TO STAY ON TRACK

TOOELE, Utah (July 12, 2006) - First came the Founders Cup and first class podium spot at Mid-Ohio, then a second-place finish in LMP1 at Lime Rock Park. So what's in store for Autocon Motorsports at the Utah Grand Prix this weekend?

The independent team from California is getting better performance each week from its Lola EX257-AER, which only has four races under its belt in Autocon livery. Chris McMurry and team owner Michael Lewis have finished on two straight podiums, and McMurry led the New England Grand Prix at Lime Rock for nine laps.

"It was nice leading the overall for a little bit, and it was too bad we had the cut tire during Mike's stint," McMurry said. "We would have probably finished fourth overall without that. Life gets tougher with two Audis starting next race, but we'll be there to hopefully get ourselves on the podium now or then."

For the American Le Mans Series' first race at the new Miller Motorsports Park, Lewis will team with Bryan Willman in the Autocon Lola.

LIGHTS, CAMERA . PIRRO: Audi factory driver Emanuele Pirro always has been considered a character. His witty humor and open personality have made him a favorite in the Series paddock. That made his latest off-track project that much more enjoyable.

The two-time Series champion and four-time winner at the 24 Hours of Le Mans is now part of Silver Screen lore, having provided the voice for the character "Wingo" in the Italian version of Disney Pixar's Cars. Pirro's animated character is part of a rough bunch known as the Delinquent Road Hazzards and sports a multi-level spoiler.

Pirro will reunite this week with Frank Biela in one of Audi Sport North America Team Champion's Audi R10 TDIs. They won five races last year and the LMP1 championship.

GUNNAR'S PLACE: Gunnar Jeannette has found a new home in Salt Lake City, having moved to Utah recently. He has been doing a few instructional laps at Miller Motorsports Park, which he hopes will give him and the rest of the Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz squad an edge this weekend.

"I believe it is going to be regarded as the top facility in the US," said Jeannette, who will partner with Tom Milner in a Panoz Esperante GTLM. "This track seems like a no-expense spared project and anybody who visits here will really see that. It is such a new venue for the locals but I think interest is going to grow quickly. You can't drive around town without seeing billboards, and seeing and hearing other advertising for the race."

AROUND THE PADDOCK: Corvette Racing's Ron Fellows has made a record 50 consecutive starts in the Series. Teammate Johnny O'Connell holds the mark for career Series starts with 67. . Biela can become the most decorated LMP1 driver in the Series with a win in Utah. He and JJ Lehto each have 19 class victories with current LMP1 championship co-leader Dindo Capello sitting third with 18. . Fifteen different chassis marques and 13 different engine manufacturers have posted Series wins since 1999. . There have been 10 different GT2 teams to record class victories in the Series. Among them are 2006 entries Alex Job Racing, BMW Team PTG, Flying Lizard Motorsports, Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz/Panoz Motor Sports, Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing and Risi Competizione.

The Utah Grand Prix, the fifth round of the 2006 American Le Mans Series, is set for 6 p.m. MDT on Saturday, July 15 at the new Miller Motorsports Park just outside of Salt Lake City. CBS will broadcast the race from 2 to 4 p.m. EDT on Sunday, July 16. MotorsTV will broadcast the race in Europe from 6:30 to 9:30 CET on Sunday, July 16. American Le Mans Radio will provide live coverage on americanlemans.com, which also will feature IMSA Live Timing & Scoring.

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Frank Biela , Ron Fellows , Johnny O'Connell , Gunnar Jeannette , Michael Lewis , Chris McMurry , Bryan Willman , Alex Job , Dindo Capello , Emanuele Pirro , JJ Lehto
Teams Corvette Racing , Risi Competizione , Multimatic Motorsports , Alex Job Racing , Flying Lizard Motorsports