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Laguna Seca Threee Championships to be Decided

THEY'RE DOWN TO THE WIRE LAGUNA SECA RACEWAY, Monterey, California (12 October) - Three U.S. championships will be decided here Saturday, October 24, in the 2½-hour 1998 SPORTS CAR season finale during the Visa Sports Car Championships ...

THEY'RE DOWN TO THE WIRE

LAGUNA SECA RACEWAY, Monterey, California (12 October) - Three U.S. championships will be decided here Saturday, October 24, in the 2½-hour 1998 SPORTS CAR season finale during the Visa Sports Car Championships presented by Honda.

"I won't be sleeping," said Wayne Taylor last Saturday, October 10, at Road Atlanta, after winning the 1000-mile Petit Le Mans race, co-driving a Ferrari 333 SP with Eric Van de Poele. "We're going to go down to the wire with Butch." Taylor is now second in World Sports Car Championship points with 147 points, just four less than WSC leader and defending champion Butch Leitzinger, who co-drove a Ford-Riley & Scott Mk. III to third.

Bad news for Taylor is today's entry of two BMW Le Mans Prototypes in the SPORTS CAR finale, including one to be co-driven by Hans Stuck and Steve Soper. Taylor, the 1994 and '96 WSC winner, needs to score maximum points to take the crown back from Leitzinger. This means he must win and lead the most laps -- or Leitzinger has to have the world's worst luck and finish five or six spots behind Taylor, which Leitzinger hasn't done yet this season. The only time Ferrari, Ford-Riley & Scott and BMW sports cars have been raced on the same track was at this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans, where a pair of BMWs proved to be much faster than the fastest Ferrari or Ford-Riley & Scott. The SPORTS CAR finale will be the first U.S. race for the BMW Le Mans Prototypes and the team is coming to Monterey for a 1-2 WSC victory. Panoz GTR co-drivers David Brabham and Andy Wallace - second in GT1 at Road Atlanta to factory Porsche 911 GT1 drivers Bob Wollek and Thierry Boutsen -- will be SPORTS CAR GT1 co-champions if they win at Laguna Seca. That's unless they are solomonically split and assigned to different cars. They are now tied in points (151) and entered for the finale in the same car. Eric Bernard, set to co-drive a second Panoz GTR with Johnny O'Connell, is right behind with 148 points. He can be champion by himself if he and O'Connell win.

The SPORTS CAR GT3 title race is an all BMW affair after Porsche 911 RSR driver Cort Wagner went scoreless at Road Atlanta. As the Prototype Technology Group driver line-up is now, Bill Auberlen (160 points) or Ross Bentley (154 points) will be the champion. Even though the BMW factory team has three BMW M3 four-door sedans entered, Mark Simo, who is second in the standings with 156 points, is partnered with Auberlen. Bentley is paired with Peter Cunningham, who was in the chase until bad luck hit at Road Atlanta. Brian Simo and Andy Pilgrim are listed as co-drivers of the third M3.

NOTE: Discount tickets for Military Appreciation Day -- Sunday, October 25 -- at the Visa Sports Car Championships presented by Honda can now be purchased at three locations:

Outdoor Recreation Center, Bldg. 228, at the Presidio of Monterey (831-242-6133);

Naval Postgraduate School MWR-ITT Ticket Office, Bldg. 220, Room 037, Code N-5, Monterey (831-656-3223);

Ticket office at Laguna Seca Raceway (800-327-SECA).

Active duty military personnel may purchase up to two Sunday General Admission tickets for $10 each - a 75% discount! An I.D. card must be shown at time of purchase. Children 12 and under are admitted free-of-charge. There will be a special area at Turn 5 exclusively for Military Appreciation Day ticket holders.

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