Munich. The final spurt in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) starts this weekend on the Laguna Seca dream circuit where league leaders BMW aim to make further headway towards a title victory. On Sunday, 9 September, the 3.602-kilometre...
Munich. The final spurt in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) starts this weekend on the Laguna Seca dream circuit where league leaders BMW aim to make further headway towards a title victory. On Sunday, 9 September, the 3.602-kilometre (2.238-mile) track near Monterey will see the current GT class leaders contesting the penultimate of eight ALMS races.
"In our case, the battle for the title doesn't mean gaining another victory at all costs," explains BMW Motorsport Team Manager Charly Lamm. "Securing points in this 2 hour 45 minute race is important, particularly as the final is a 1,000-mile race and therefore much more unpredictable." The last race of the championship is the Petit Le Mans on 6 October on the Road Atlanta circuit.
Team BMW Motorsport already claimed four victories in 2001 with the new BMW M3 GTRs powered by 450 bhp V8 engines. Three races were won by the driving duo of JJ Lehto (FIN)/Jörg Müller (D), and one victory went to Fredrik Ekblom (S)/Dirk Müller (D). A further triumph with the new GT car was celebrated by Boris Said (USA)/Hans-Joachim Stuck (D) in the BMW North America-backed BMW Team PTG. In 2000 Said/Stuck won the GT class at Laguna Seca in the predecessor model.
Taking deletable results into account, BMW currently has an eleven-point lead over Porsche in the manufacturers' standings, while in the team classifications BMW Motorsport is 6 points clear of Alex Job Racing (Porsche). <pre> Drivers' rankings with two races to go:
Driver Car Points 1. Jörg Müller BMW 140 2. JJ Lehto BMW 139 3. Sascha Maassen Porsche 134 4. Lucas Luhr Porsche 133 5. Boris Said BMW 122 6. Hans-Joachim Stuck BMW 119 7. Dirk Müller BMW 116 8. Fredrik Ekblom BMW 115 9. Randy Pobst Porsche 114 Christian Menzel Porsche 114
Jörg Müller: "For me it's the most beautiful circuit."
If a household appliance is mentioned in reverential tones by racing drivers, then it has to be in connection with California's Laguna Seca race track. Corkscrew is the name of a world-famous sequence of turns on one of America's most beautiful circuits. This magic word refers to a steep downhill left-right twister into which drivers drop almost blind following a rise.
Team BMW Motorsport will be making its third appearance on California's curving track, where in the 1999 ALMS it celebrated one of five season's victories in the open BMW V12 LMR prototype. JJ Lehto was one of the winning team of drivers. His current partner Jörg Müller, with whom Lehto took third place last year and who is similarly making his third appearance at Laguna Seca, loves this track: "For me it's the most beautiful of all the permanent American race tracks we're driving on. Safety standards there are basically of a European standard, and Monterey is a great town which I look forward to visiting time and again." Müller is gearing up for a tight contest in the GT class: "There are six equally powerful GT cars - four BMWs and two Porsches. With that sort of competition we can't afford any retirements or mistakes: it could cost us our title chances. On the technical side, we've definitely got the best possible prerequisites with our team."
The second pair of drivers in Team BMW Motorsport are also Laguna Seca connoisseurs. Dirk Müller gained pole position in 1999 and only narrowly missed victory in the GT class. Last year he took tenth position after a problematic race. His partner Fredrik Ekblom raced on the famous circuit in the Indy Lights Series in 1992 and 1993, as well as competing in the CART Championship there in 1995.
The race takes place on Sunday, 9 September 2001, from 12.00 to 2.45 pm local time (9.00 to 11.45 pm CET).
Live information and radio broadcasts on the Internet at www.americanlemans.com.
NBC Sports will broadcast the race live.
Eurosport will broadcast 60 minutes of race highlights on Sunday, 16 September, from 10.00 to 11.00 pm CET.