GT2 CHAMPIONSHIP GOES DOWN TO THE WIRE It is only ironic that the GT2 championship in the American Le Mans Series will come down to the final race of the year. A season-long battle between Risi Competizione and Flying Lizard...
GT2 CHAMPIONSHIP GOES DOWN TO THE WIRE
It is only ironic that the GT2 championship in the American Le Mans Series will come down to the final race of the year. A season-long battle between Risi Competizione and Flying Lizard Motorsports that started with the closest finish in the history of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring will - one way or the other - reach a climax at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Following a victory by the Flying Lizard team of Jorg Bergmeister, Johannes van Overbeek and Marc Lieb at Petit Le Mans, Risi's Jaime Melo and Mika Salo lead the driver championship standings by 22 points over van Overbeek and two-time class titlist Bergmeister heading to the Monterey Sports Car Championships. The GT2 championships are the only ones in the Series that are still in play with the season finale looming with 23 points going to the class winners.
"Our car performed pretty well (at Atlanta) thanks to the long straights," Bergmeister said. "Laguna is going to be a lot tougher than here because it suits the Ferrari very well. I don't think it looks like we can win the driver championship."
Sebring started the season with a 12-hour war that saw a 0.202-second win for Salo, Melo and Johnny Mowlem in the Risi Ferrari. The No. 62 Ferrari F430 GT won the first four rounds before recording just 2 points between Utah and Lime Rock. Meanwhile the Lizard Porsche scored runner-up finishes at Houston and Utah before winning at Lime Rock and Mid-Ohio to vault into the championship lead. Things then went downhill for Bergmeister and van Overbeek with a pair of fifth-place finishes at Road America and Mosport before a fire put the No. 45 car out at Detroit without points.
The team standings see Risi ahead of the Lizards by 13 points with Ferrari leading the manufacturer championship by just 10 points. Bergmeister and van Overbeek must take another class win and hope the Risi duo doesn't complete 70 percent of the overall race distance to earn points.
In the team chase, a fifth-place finish by either of the Risi cars will hand the Houston-based team its second straight championship. Ferrari can win its first manufacturers championship if one of its three F430 GTs place fourth or better.
"At Petit, we raced hard but it was very disappointing in the end," said Salo, who won last year at Monterey with Stephane Ortelli. "We had a very fast car there last year. It's a track I know, so it will be nice to go and clinch the championship there."
The final round of the 2007 American Le Mans Series is the Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The four-hour race is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. PT on Saturday, October 20. SPEED will air the race live from 5:30 to 10 p.m. ET. Live coverage from American Le Mans Radio and IMSA Live Timing and Scoring will be available at americanlemans.com.