FERRARIS, CORVETTES, BMWS OUT QUALIFY PORSCHE 911 GT3 RSR TEAMS FOR SATURDAY'S ALMS LAGUNA SIX-HOUR; BLEEKEMOLEN ON POLE IN ALMS GTC Klaus Graf Puts Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder Third Overall in LMP Monterey, Calif. - May 21 - As Shirelles ...
FERRARIS, CORVETTES, BMWS OUT QUALIFY PORSCHE 911 GT3 RSR TEAMS FOR SATURDAY'S ALMS LAGUNA SIX-HOUR; BLEEKEMOLEN ON POLE IN ALMS GTC
Klaus Graf Puts Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder Third Overall in LMP
Monterey, Calif. - May 21 - As Shirelles proclaimed to the rock 'n roll world in 1963, "Mama said There'd be Days like This." Even though they were probably not referring to American Le Mans Series GT qualifying, their words have certainly gained traction over the last year as Porsche, BMW, Ferrari and Corvette have battled each other for the fastest starting position. For tomorrow's six-hour event on the 2.238-mile, 11-turn sports car course at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, one manufacturer found itself, as Little Anthony and the Imperials put it that same year, "On the Outside Looking In," after qualifying.
The event, round number three of the 2010 American Le Mans Series, has the green flag dropping on Saturday, May 22, at 5:30 PM Eastern Daylight time. Although CBS-TV will carry an edited version of the race on Saturday, May 29 (1:30 PM - 3:00 PM Eastern time), ALMS will provide all six hours live with streaming video on its web site starting Saturday, May 22, at 5:30 PM Eastern time. There is a catch - you have to register on the site in advance to see the broadcast as there are only 10,000 spots open. Go to www.americanlemans.com/live to register. The streaming video will be linked to the ALMS web radio broadcast for the virtual live TV experience - the viewer will also be able to follow live scoring on a split-screen arrangement.
The racing has been so close in the last year that all four manufacturers have found themselves in the position that Porsche experienced today - being shut out by the other three. In Friday's 20-minute qualifying session, the top qualifying Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, the Flying Lizard Motorsports entry of Patrick Long (USA) and qualifying driver Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) found itself in eighth position - behind three Ferraris, two Corvettes, and two BMWs.
"We waited a few laps before going out in order to get good track position, and my first lap was good, but I made a mistake on the second lap - the one the tires are usually at their optimal temperature - and then I hit traffic on my third lap. At that point, we realized that we needed to concentrate on race set-up and not use up the tires, which have to last us through the first pit stop tomorrow," said Bergmeister.
Right behind the Lizards Porsche is the Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Bryan Sellers (USA). The team has been fighting the track set-up ever since it arrived in Monterey, and qualifying was no different.
"We were at least a second slower than we would have liked because of the understeer we were experiencing," said Henzler, who was especially disappointed because of the good qualifying sessions the team had executed during the first two rounds of the series.
"But this team works very hard, and I am confident we will find the right combination and be competitive in the race," he said.
The second Flying Lizard Porsche, qualified by Seth Neiman (USA), and co-driven by Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Darren Law (USA), will start 13th on the GT grid tomorrow.
In the GT Challenge class for matched Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, Jeroen Bleekemolen (Netherlands) put the Black Swan Racing Porsche on the pole in the car he will share with his brother Sebartiaan and car owner Tim Pappas, with the Car Amigo/Mission Foods Porsche of Juan Gonzales/Butch Leitzinger/Rudy Junco, Jr. - winners of the first two rounds.
In LMP, Klaus Graf (Germany) put the Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder - the car he will share with Sascha Maassen (Germany) and Memo Gidley (Mexico) - in third position overall.
"My qualifying lap was a good, nice, tidy lap. I didn't push too, too hard because it's very easy here on this track to lose grip completely. If you come a little bit offline you just go straight. I had that once and I had to adjust a little bit. The car is quite good, quite nice. The crew did a great job as usual; we're happy with our effort," said Graf.
Graf and Maassen have been in the top three all week in practice, and were fastest in the opening session last night in evening practice.