Dodge Viper update 2000-10-18

ALMS Laguna Seca race, LMP Allan McNish and Dindo Capello won an incident-filled 10th round of the American Le Mans Series at Laguna Seca, California, at the weekend. The pair raced to victory by less than half a second from Frank Biela and ...

ALMS Laguna Seca race, LMP

Allan McNish and Dindo Capello won an incident-filled 10th round of the American Le Mans Series at Laguna Seca, California, at the weekend. The pair raced to victory by less than half a second from Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro in the second Audi R8 and 11 seconds ahead of JJ Lehto and Joerg Mueller in the BMW. The 1-2 result means that Audi has won this year's championship for manufacturers, and McNish has opened out an unofficial nine-point lead over Capello in the championship for drivers', with erstwhile leader Mueller third, 17 points off the lead.

It was another race that was marred by controversy due to collisions that, sadly, have become a feature of the ALMS this year. McNish was furious with BMW's Jean-Marc Gounon who appeared to swerve into the Scot's Audi, pushing him into the wall at the Corkscrew turn as he charged back through the field, recovering from an earlier puncture that had delayed Capello. McNish branded Gounon's move as "unsportsman-like" and is considering further action against the French driver.

Panoz enjoyed another competitive weekend but the team was let down by mechanical reliability. Jan Magnussen led early on after starting from the outside of the front row, but was delayed by a collision with a backmarker that also earned a stop-and-go penalty. He and David Brabham re-claimed the lead but Brabham retired when a broken exhaust led to an overheating engine. Team-mates Hiroki Katoh and Johnny O'Connell also ran well but were slowed by brake problems that eventually put Katoh heavily into a wall.

ALMS Laguna Seca race, GTS

Viper Team ORECA re-asserted its authority over the Chevrolet Corvette team in the GTS class, Olivier Beretta and Karl Wendlinger beating Ron Fellows and Andy Pilgrim by 73 seconds, with David Donohue and Tommy Archer third in the second ORECA Viper. Luck was on the side of the Viper Team ORECA crew this time around. Beretta radioed into the pit that he thought he had a puncture but, when he arrived in front of his mechanics, his wheel fell off and rolled away! When the Corvette made its stop, the Viper again moved to the head of the field having lost no time.

Beretta and Wendlinger could now claim the championship for drivers' at the penultimate round at Las Vegas in two weeks, to complete a clean sweep of titles for ORECA and DaimlerChrysler.

The new GTS-class Saleen S7 of Terry Borcheller, Tommy Kendal and Ron Johnson qualified fourth on its race debut and ran as high as second before the car, dubbed the "McSaleen" due to its resemblance to the McLaren F1, became stuck in high gear, forcing a lengthy stop. The car re-joined minus several gears and finished 26th overall, 22 laps down on the winners.

ALMS Laguna Seca race, GT

Hans Stuck and Boris Said ended Porsche's 13 successive victories in the GT class, in their Prototype Technology BMW M3. Both the Dick Barbour Racing Porsches hit problems, Dirk Mueller with damage to the front suspension and Sascha Maassen with a gearbox breakage, leaving the Alex Job Racing Porsche GT3 of Randy Pobst and Bruno Lambert to claim second in class.

Cadillac

Cadillac entered just one car this weekend, for Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli, the second 'works' Northstar LMP already in England to receive a re-vamp from British designers Peter Stevens and Nigel Stroud. Jean-Paul Driot's DAMS team will run two cars next year in the ALMS and at Le Mans, switching from Pirelli to Michelin tyres for the 2001 season.

Details of GM's plans for the 2001 season are still closely guarded, but it seems Herb Fishel has put in hand an entirely new operation, based around the existing carbon monocoque and the Northstar V8, twin-turbo engine. Stevens, the styling director at Rover Group and at Prodrive, and Stroud, in charge of sports car design at Reynard, have a brief to redesign the suspension and bodywork of this year's machine in time for the start of the '01 season at Texas in March.

Audi sells R8s for 2001

Audi has confirmed that it is talking to teams with a view to selling this year's R8s to private teams. The cars will not be cheap, with SportsRacing World Cup cars providing a benchmark capped at $620,000, and nor will the programme with Audi expecting successful bidders to race in the European Le Mans Series, at Le Mans, Sebring, the Petit Le Mans and at Adelaide. Audi has not made a final decision regarding the future of its relationship with Team Joest, which has campaigned the R8s so successfully this year, delivering the Sebring, Le Mans, Petit Le Mans, and ALMS manufacturers trophies to Ingolstadt.

Grand-Am 2001 tyres

The Grand-Am Championship organisation is believed to have favoured Goodyear to supply a 'control tyre' for the Sports Car category next season. Hoosier would be in line to supply the GTS category while the GT class contenders would remain free to choose their tyres. John Taube conceded at the weekend that Goodyear is in discussion with Roger Edmondson and would be in a position to supply the sports car grid, though no agreement had yet been reached.

Sports Car Championship

John Mangoletsi has ruled out a similar idea in the Sports Car Championship next year, though admitted he had considered a 'control tyre' for the SR2 category, as it is "less political" than SR1. Mangoletsi was in Florida over the weekend meeting with Grand-Am organisers to discuss next year's regulations that are likely to become even closer than this year.

Lola Porsche at Rolex 24

Norbert Singer, Porsche's senior race engineer, has been assigned to Dave Maraj's Champion Racing Lola Porsche until the Rolex 24 at Daytona next year, and Dirk Mueller is likely to join Bob Wollek and Dorsey Schroeder on the driving team. Grand-Am organisers have verbally confirmed that they will allow larger inlet restrictors to restore the performance of the Porsche flat-six turbo engine.

Rafanelli in ALMS 2001

Gabriele Rafanelli has confirmed that he will compete in the American Le Mans Series for another year, and at Le Mans, but is waiting for a commitment from both Lola and Judd before deciding his equipment for next season. "There is a choice for chassis and for power units, and I am only interested in winning races," he said. The Italian had considered running BMW 320s in the FIA GT Champioship but was told that "BMW will not support me."

Historic GTP cars in support races ALMS 2001

Panoz Motorsports is behind a new organisation which will organise ALMS support races for historic GTP cars such as the Porsche 962s, Nissan GTPs and Eagle Toyotas. The historic GTP foundation will organise events at Sebring, the Petit Le Mans, Laguna Seca and at Portland, and hopes to bring back some of the drivers associated with the cars. European-based teams have been invited to appear at Sebring including regular competitors in the Group C Revival series.

Donington ELMS 2001 European race?

Donington is being considered as Britain's third alternative to host the first European round of the ELMS on April 14 next year. Organiser John Macdonald is meeting with representatives of the British track today, with both Silverstone and Brands Hatch believed to have become outside bets. Silverstone is said to only be able to offer one weekend following Le Mans pre-qualifying, while Brands Hatch claims still to be in negotiation with Macdonald despite having a round of the British Touring Car Championship pencilled in for that day. Macdonald has said that he will be happy with 26 cars and may have no choice should Donington be selected. Too many cars would lead to considerable problems in such a confined pit lane.

GT result battle Texas race

The on-going saga regarding the final results in Texas may have been resolved in Dirk Mueller's favour after Sascha Maassen and Bob Wollek lost their points for a second time. Texas stewards found that Maassen had driven three minutes beyond the time limit. Their points were disallowed, restored, then disallowed again last week. "The published results should be final," said an angry Dick Barbour, who also said that he would fight the PSCR decision "all the way" in the interests of fairness.

JMB Giesse team

The SportsRacing World Cup Champion JMB Giesse team will miss the final round at Kyalami in November, preferring to concentrate on the N-GT class Ferrari 360 Modena that the team is developing for the FIA GT Championship. The team has entered two cars for the final round of the championship at Magny Cours this weekend, one of which will be driven by this year's SRWC champion Christian Pescatori.

Carsport Holland and Belmondo racing in FIA GT title battle

The Carsport Holland drivers Mike Hezemans and Tom Coronel must either win with the Lister Storm of Julian Bailey and Jamie Campbell-Walter third or finish second at Magny Cours, with the Lister no higher than sixth, to claim the championship. Hezemans' regular co-driver David Hart will be partnered in a second Viper by Dutchman Peter Kox. Paul Belmondo Racing has entered a third Viper in its quest to steal the championship for teams from Lister, pairing Paul Belmondo with Marc Duez, Claude-Yves Gosselin and Anthony Kumpen will share the second Viper, while Boris Derichebourg and Vincent Vosse will share the third car as usual.

Lister team boss Laurence Pearce claims to have a new aerodynamic package on his car and has said that he will not be distracted by running another car at Magny Cours. "Our car is better than theirs. This is a high-downforce circuit, and we have got lots of that."

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers David Brabham , Dirk Müller , Jan Magnussen , Allan McNish , Bruno Lambert , Frank Biela , Boris Said , Karl Wendlinger , Christian Pescatori , Tom Coronel , Ron Fellows , Johnny O'Connell , Andy Pilgrim , Wayne Taylor , Julian Bailey , Tommy Archer , Randy Pobst , Sascha Maassen , Terry Borcheller , David Donohue , Dick Barbour , Peter Kox , Jamie Campbell-Walter , Dorsey Schroeder , Hiroki Katoh , Mike Hezemans , Boris Derichebourg , Paul Belmondo , David Hart , Jean-Marc Gounon , Olivier Beretta , Claude-Yves Gosselin , Bob Wollek , Marc Duez , Alex Job , Dindo Capello , JJ Lehto
Teams DAMS , Alex Job Racing