SPORTS CAR FEATURE ADDED
LAGUNA SECA RACEWAY, Monterey, California (August 13) -- "Our fans will have the best of both worlds at the Visa Sports Car Championships presented by Honda," said raceway general manager John Stornetta during his announcement here today of the Saturday feature race for the event on the weekend of October 23, 24, 25. This will be a combined season finale for Professional Sports Car Racings World Sports Car Championship and the GT Series presented by Virgin Interactive. The two hour and forty-five minute race tentatively scheduled to start at 12:30pm on Saturday will be followed by the final qualifying session for Sundays FIA GT Championship finale on Sunday.
"Fan response last October to the FIA GT Championship and Professional Sports Car Racing races on the Visa Sports Car Championships weekend said that this is what they want to see at Laguna Seca Raceway," Stornetta explained. "The same card is what the SCRAMP Board of Directors has wanted since then. We are very pleased to have been able to reach an agreement with Professional Sports Car Racing making it possible to give our fans the show they want. In fact, we think the single race on Saturday for WSC and GT cars will make the show even better than last years show." SCRAMP is the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula, the non-profit organization which has operated Laguna Seca Raceway, since it opened in 1957, to benefit youth groups and community service programs.
"We are very pleased that SCRAMP asked SPORTS CAR to be part of their sports car racing weekend," said Michael Gué, President of SPORTS CAR. "The opportunity to run the SPORTS CAR season finale along with the FIA GT Championship finale will make a very exciting weekend of racing."
Some 44,500 fans came to Laguna Seca for the inaugural Visa Sports Car Championships last October. It featured the final round of the FIA GT Championship -- the world championship for GT sports cars -- and, individually, the final rounds of the SPORTS CAR World Sports Car Championship and the SPORTS CAR GT Series championship. The schism in domestic sports car racing since the creation of a rival sanctioning group and series rivaling the SPORTS CAR series resulted in SCRAMP postponing its decision about the Visa Sports Car Championships card. The hope was that the rival groups would unite. This has not happened. With little more that 10 weeks until the Visa Sports Car Championships, and two major events at Laguna Seca Raceway before then, it was felt necessary to make a decision before the first of these, The 25th Annual Monterey Historic Automobile Races this weekend, August 14, 15, 16. The Honda Grand Prix of Monterey featuring the Texaco/Havoline 300 is on September 11, 12, 13.
"The Professional Sports Car Racing package was the best overall package offered to us and, again, it was the one we originally wanted," Stornetta said. "We promised our fans that we would bring the best sports car racing show possible to Laguna Seca Raceway in October for the Visa Sports Car Championships presented by Honda and this is what we believe we have done."
The FIA GT Championship is shaping up as a showdown between the two Mercedes factory team driving duos that have been swapping victories with silver Mercedes CLK-LM coupes. Defending champion Bernd Schneider and co-driver Mark Webber are, currently, a single point ahead of Klaus Ludwig and Ricardo Zonta in the standings. The pairs of Allan McNish/Yannick Dalmas and Jörg Müller/Uwe Alzen have been fast in their Porsche 911 GTR-98s but, like Panoz GTR drivers David Brabham and Eric Bernard, they haven't had enough luck to win.
Locked in a struggle for the SPORTS CAR World Sports Car Championship title are Wayne Taylor and Eric van de Poele co-driving a Ferrari SP333 and Ford Riley & Scott Mk. II co-drivers Butch Leitzinger and Dorsey Schroeder, who have been swapping race leads and victories since the start of the season.
Dominating the SPORTS CAR GT Series presented by Virgin Interactive GT1 class are Eric Bernard, Andy Wallace, David Brabham and Raul Boesel driving Panoz GTRs. Driving a Porsche 911, Larry Schmacher has held onto a healthy lead in the GT2 championship despite tough competition from BMW M3 coupe drivers Boris Said and Marc Duez. It's pretty certain the GT3 title will be won driving a BMW M3 four-door sedan like last year, but who will wear the crown: Bill Auberlen, Mark Simo, Ross Bentley or Peter Cunningham?/END