Mosport International Raceway, Ontario, Canada, 19 August 2001 Gunning for points in Canada after three successive wins Munich. Following the northwestern-most race in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), the racing caravan moves on from...
Mosport International Raceway, Ontario, Canada,
19 August 2001
Gunning for points in Canada after three successive wins
Munich. Following the northwestern-most race in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), the racing caravan moves on from Portland to its most northerly venue: on 19 August the BMW M3 GTRs will be contesting the fifth of nine ALMS races at Canada's Mosport International Raceway, about an hour's drive from Toronto.
The BMW M3 GTRs driven by 450 bhp V8 engines have proved unbeatable in their last three races: at Jarama Fredrik Ekblom (S)/Dirk Müller (D) scooped victory for Team BMW Motorsport, while in Sears Point it was their team-mates JJ Lehto (FIN)/Jörg Müller (D) who won the event, and at the last race in Portland Hans-Joachim Stuck (D)/Boris Said (USA) were first to cross the finish line. The latter two are driving for the BMW North America-backed BMW Team PTG, in an identical M3 except that it is shod with Yokohama rather than Michelin tyres. Ekblom/Müller led the field in Portland for more than half the race, but after a turbulent final 20 minutes with a yellow-flag period and tyre changes, they ultimately slotted into fourth place behind Lehto/Müller.
Former GP circuit comes out of hibernation Team BMW Motorsport will spend two days testing at Mosport International Raceway in preparation for the next battle for points this Sunday in Canada. "A great track layout," JJ Lehto enthuses about the3.957-kilometre (2.459-mile) circuit with its ten turns, some of which are quite spectacular. "It's a really beautiful circuit, though it had one weakness in the past: the facilities for the spectators and safety levels in particular just weren't up to date," explains the Finn. "But a great deal has been improved in the last two years, and I'm really looking forward to competing there in the M3. I think the track is better-suited to the closed GT cars than the hyperfast prototypes we used to have."
Eight Formula 1 Grand Prix races were staged at Mosport International Raceway between 1967 and 1977. After that the track entered a state of limbo, at least as far as international motor racing was concerned, until ALMS initiator Don Panoz brought about its revival two years ago.
"The circuit is hard on the car and hard on the tyres," continues Lehto. "It offers plenty of variety: nice uphill and downhill stretches and a long straight which is good for overtaking if you've got the necessary engine power. Probably the most difficult section is the first three corners after the start/finish, where you have to find a really clean line and stick to it."
Last year, Lehto and Müller were here in the open BMW V12 LMR prototype. They started in fifth position and appalling weather conditions, but battled their way to within striking distance of victory. Finishing a mere 0.148 seconds behind Rinaldo Capello/Allan McNish in their Audi, Jörg Müller made for the narrowest victory margin in ALMS history.
Taking deletable results into account - teams are permitted to swap an inferior ALMS result for a better score in either of the European races at Donington and Jarama - the championship rankings for the GT class are as follows, with five races to go:
Driver Marque Points 1. Sascha Maassen Porsche 102 2. Lucas Luhr Porsche 101 3. Jörg Müller BMW 90 4. JJ Lehto BMW 89 5. Boris Said BMW 88 6. Hans-Joachim Stuck BMW 87 7. Randy Pobst Porsche 83 Christian Menzel Porsche 83 9. Dirk Müller BMW 74 10. Fredrik Ekblom BMW 73
The race takes place on Sunday, 19 August 2001, from 1.00-3.45 pm EDT.
Live information and radio reports are available on the Internet at www.americanlemans.com.
NBC Sports will be broadcasting the race live.
Eurosport will broadcast an hour-long summary on Sunday, 26 August, from 9.30 to 10.30 pm CET.