Munich. Normally car races do not have romantic names. The Rose City Grand Prix in Portland is an exception to this rule - the rose is the symbol of this port on the West coast of America in the state of Oregon where the eighth race in the...
Munich. Normally car races do not have romantic names. The Rose City Grand Prix in Portland is an exception to this rule - the rose is the symbol of this port on the West coast of America in the state of Oregon where the eighth race in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) will be staged on Sunday over a duration of two hours 45 minutes. And BMW driver Jorg Muller (D) plans once again to defend his lead in the Championship against the growing threat presented by his rivals.
The Portland International Raceway is the shortest of the ALMS tracks at just 3.128 kilometres. It is very smooth and also very narrow, which makes the frequent overtaking of the GT and GTS cars by faster prototypes like the BMW V12 LMR particularly critical. On the larger Texas Motor Speedway last weekend, too, the BMW drivers experienced events that changed the outcome of the race. "As a result of the large speed differences between the classes, everybody has to be extremely careful", says Muller, who alternates behind the wheel with JJ Lehto (FIN). "Seeing and being seen," continues Muller, "is really important in ALMS." In Texas Muller enjoyed the support of his team-mates, Bill Auberlen (USA) and Jean-Marc Gounon (F).
"The change of position at the end of the race gained an extra two points for Jorg", explains BMW Motorsport Team Manager Charly Lamm. "We have to grasp every straw available to us to keep our chances of winning the title in our 1999 car alive against the modern rivals." This also means ensuring that the team uses every available opportunity for testing. At the end of July the team tested in Portland. Lamm continues, "At that time we were very dissatisfied with our lap times. We now appear to have got a little closer to the front, however. Even a place of the podium may not be enough to keep our lead in the table, however -- and a victory will be very difficult." This season Muller/Lehto have won two races to date.
In 1999 Portland was the third ALMS race for the BMW V12 LMR, and Lehto gained his third consecutive pole position. During the race itself the Finn achieved second position along with his then partner, Steve Soper. The sister car, which was then driven by Auberlen and Joachim Winkelhock, took place four.
Hans-J. Stuck, who normally drives a BMW M3 for the BMW Team PTG in the ALMS GT class, has decided not to take part in the race in Portland. Stuck: "I have had trouble with a neck vertebra since training in Mosport, where the car bottomed out repeatedly on a bump in the track. I now have to take care of this problem in order for it to be cured in time for me to be fit enough for the race in Road Atlanta on September 30."
The race on Sunday will be run from 12 noon to 2.45 pm (Central European Summer Time: Sunday: 7 pm to 9.45 pm). Eurosport will broadcast a report on Sunday from 10 pm to 11 pm and from 11.15 pm to 12 midnight.