Las Vegas Saturday Notes

Changes to the entry list: ...

Changes to the entry list: #48-GT, add driver Philip Collin, Lincolnshire IL, delete Charles Coker. #28-P, add driver Niclas Jonsson, Aliso Viejo CA, delete John Mirro.

Through Team Viper's eyes: So Which Car Is The Fastest? According to Dodge Viper Team ORECA's Karl Wendlinger, it looks like the Panoz LMP. "For top speed, I think the Panoz is the fastest car. Even more so than the BMW."

The Driver Situation: This week's match-ups include Olivier Beretta and David Donohue in the #91 car, while Karl Wendlinger will share the #92 car with Tommy Archer. The reason behind the strategy is to protect the driver's title. "If we were to have a problem with Olivier's car, then Karl would be in line to capture the overall title," said Team ORECA owner Hugues de Chaunac. Note: Wendlinger is in third place overall, just five points behind Snow (Porsche). So the overall driver's championship title has Beretta with 130 points, Snow with 116 and Wendlinger with 111.

GM Y2K PLANS - General Motors is making a major commitment to sports car racing and to the American Le Mans Series. In two separate announcements at the new Las Vegas Race Rock, Chevrolet set its plans for the 2000 season.

The Tuesday announcements officially introduced the new Cadillac prototype to the public. The twin-turbocharged Northstar-Cadillac has already begun testing with Team Corvette driver Ron Fellows. Fellows, who will head-up development driving for the program, remarked on the new Cadillac LMP, "it's one sweet ride." American Le Mans Series' competitor Wayne Taylor - driver of the #12 Toshiba-Olive Garden Ferrari 333 SP in this weekend's Grand Prix of Las Vegas - has also spent substantial time behind the wheel of the Riley & Scott design in October testing.

In a second major announcement it was revealed that the Chevrolet C5-R Corvette would compete in the 24-Hour classic of Le Mans. This will mark Corvette's first official factory effort at Sarthe. Two of Corvette's lead drivers were also announced. Andy Pilgrim will return to the C5-R program after running several races for the team in 1999. Justin Bell, son of legendary Derek Bell, was also named to compete with the Vette Team.

"We couldn't be happier with the addition of Justin to our established driver lineup for the C5-R," commented Doug Fehan, Team Corvette program manager. "To have a driver of his experience and ability show interest in driving the C5-R Corvette is a testament to the progress we have made after racing less than a year." Bell took third overall at Le Mans in 1995. He comes to Team Corvette from Team Viper ORECA where he competed at the Petit Le Mans in the ALMS.

Looking towards next season, Fehan marked their position as saying "We're continuing to head in the right direction." The Corvette has challenged for GTS-class honors in five ALMS races this season. The team has enjoyed two second-place finishes and a trio of podium finishes.

Combined ALMS Prototype, GT, and GTS practice notes:

9:00 - Green flag. The start was delayed 20 minutes while track officials added a tire barrier that had been requested by SPORTS CAR.

9:30 - Car #2-P Magnussen/O'Connell Panoz LMP-1 Roadster S/Ford spun and continued at turn 10.

9:51 - Black flag, all. Car #29-P Debban/Trenery Riley & Scott Mk III/Ford is stalled in an unsafe position.

10:00 - Checkered flag.

Cars practicing faster than they qualified:

#75-P improved to 1:08.405, #0-P 1:08.691, #27-P 1:09.693, #16-P 1:10.135, #11-P 1:11.178, #28-P 1:12.412, #15-P 1:12.562: #91-GTS 1;14.509, #3-GTS 1:14.811, #92-GTS 1:15.050, #08-GTS 1:17.315, #56-GTS 1:18.048, #23-GT 1:18.882, #02-GT 1:19.643: #17-GT 1:19.833, #6-GT 1:19.947, #10-GT 1:20.228, #7-GT 1:20.286, #48-GT 1:24.088, #81-GT 1:26.403

Women's Global GT Series Qualifying: At 10:45 Green flag At 10:48 fast lap by car #12 Zavodsky 1:37.279 At 10:49 fast lap by car #13 Duncan 1:34.411. Note: Duncan and #18 Endress were drafting and both set their fastest lap in tandem. At 10:55 car #4 Galica high and slow through the tri-oval. At 11:01 car #18 Endress high and slow through the tri-oval. At 11:15 checkered flag:

Top 5 starting positions: #13 Duncan 1:34.411, #4 Galica 1:34.586, #18 Endress 1:34.699, #21 Lux 1:34.791, #11 Senske 1:34.936.

Milestones: This is Allison Duncan's second pole of the season (LVMS, Sears Point), is the only driver with 2 poles, has started in the top three 4 times in 5 races. For Divina Galica this is her fourth front row start out of 5 races, with a pole in the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.

Belinda Endress has her fourth top 6 start in 5 races, best WGGTS career start. ALMS GT and GTS final qualifying:

At 11:21 Green flag (times to beat: #91-GTS 1:14.760, #23-GT 1:18.897) At 11:26 car #23-GT improves the GT-class pole time to 1:18.750. At 11:28 car #23-GT improves the GT-class pole time to 1:18.217. At 11:30 car #92-GTS sets fast lap in class with a 1:14.290. At 11:33 car #91-GTS sets fast lap in class at 1:13.873. At 11:34 car #3-GTS improves their best time to 1:14:542, still third fastest. At 11:42 checkered flag.

The top three in GTS and GT did not change in order, but all six times improved from yesterday. #91-GTS 1:13.873, #92-GTS 1:14.290, #3-GTS 1:14.542; #23-GT 1:18.217, #25-GT 1:18.606, #02-GT 1:19.201.

ALMS Prototype final qualifying: At 11:52 Green flag (time to beat 1:07.825) At 12:02, car #0-P sets fast lap of the session at 1:08.006, second fastest time of both sessions. Because of bodywork damage, the car had not posted a time in yesterday's qualifying. At 12:03, car #0-P improves his time to 1:07.930, still second fastest overall. At 12:10, car #1-P sets fast lap overall, at 1:07.404, taking the pole from the #2-P team car. At 12:12 checkered flag. Final top three order: #1-P 1:07.404, #2-P 1:07.539, #0-P 1:07.930.

WGGTS Quotes: Cindi Lux (current points leader, about starting fourth) "It's not bad, it's a little disappointing . I wanted to be in the top 3 or 2. But again, it's a long race for tomorrow and it's just a matter of not making any mistakes. I think we'll be just fine. Qualifying is on thing, but racing is another." (about racing injured) "We're going to try. It's the last race of the year so we're just going to grin and bare it. We have all winter to heal up. So I say we just go for it. "

Sara Senske "What I heard was Belinda [Endress] and Allison [Duncan] hooked up and used the draft and just caught on fire. I'll be trying to find a drafting partner by tomorrow."

Allison Duncan "It went just as we had planned. This morning before qualifying Belinda Endress and I got together and decided we would try and work a little drafting going down the front straightaway. Obviously it worked. The two of us are right up there in the front. (on the speedway portion of the track) "It brings in the whole element of the draft. None of us have had to deal with this before. This is my first time ever having to consider the draft going down the front straight. It's a long straight so it becomes very important to get out of certain turns on the track. Also the transition from the oval on down to the road course is pretty rough, so you gotta make sure you got your car settled so someone doesn't unsettle you and spin you or something like that." (on Sunday's race) "It should be good. There's going to be a lot of drafting going on and some move taking place that we haven't seen in this series. I'm excited because it's going to be a whole different element."

Divina Galica "I'm really disappointed in myself. I can drive a lot better than that. I got desperate early and then I began to panic. But let's face it, Cindi would have to finish lower than eighth for me to beat her (for the championship), and I don't think that's going to happen. So I'm just going to relax and try and enjoy the race. I've driven in many, many races, though, and never have I driven on a track where cars go so fast in a draft."

Belinda Endress "Drafting means a lot, but all that goes out the window when cars start racing each other. And the banking can influence you too. If you hit the banking right, coming on and off it, it's great. But when you miss it, it's not so good. Plus those are big cars, and when you're running in a draft those cars move a lot of air around."

ALMS Quotes: Karl Wendlinger (#92-GTS Dodge Viper GTS-R) (after final qualifying): "We changed the setting from this morning and I think it was a good change, but we needed one more (change). I locked up the front tires in the first corner and we got a flat spot but that is okay because we can change one tire. Everything improved from yesterday's practice and again from the qualifying session. So the car appears to be quite good right now."

Dirk M|ller (#23-GT Porsche 911 GT3 R) (after final qualifying): "I'm really looking forward to the race because the car is in really good shape right now. We have a really good setup for the race. Yesterday I flat spotted one tire and got a screw in one tire, so I'm happy we were faster today. We have to concentrate a lot- it's such a slippery track."

Jan Magnussen (#2-P Panoz LMP-1 Roadster S/Ford): "I'm happy about today. We ran a little cold. Still, it's a long race."

Eric Bernard (#1-P LMP-1 Roadster S/Ford): "I would like to finish on the same point [first], it would be better. We need to win. We had very good times and very bad times, sometimes. I would like to drive a good time in the race."

Joachim Winkelhock (#43-P BMW V12 LMR) "I'm quite happy so far. I didn't expect the Rafanelli (#0-P) to be so fast. The infield is the problem. We need to save the tires there. The Panoz has been very fast but it is a long race. We have maybe a small advantage in fuel consumption but in a long race like this we'll have to see. The championship is gone but our goal is the race."

Ron Fellows (#3-GTS Chevrolet Corvette C5-R) "We're getting better. We made a couple of changes and went from a 1:14.8 to 1:14.5. We found three tenths [of a second] but they [the Vipers] seemed to find three fourths of a second. We're not unhappy with the car. It's the best it's been, it's just a little frustrating. We'll see what they've got in race trim."

Hans Stuck (#6 BMW M3) "I'm very happy. The car is 98 per cent to me. Unfortunately, we had no chance to beat the Porsche in qualifying, but we have a long race, we have a tricky pit exit and many things can happen. Maybe we'll have some luck this time. The Porsche is a little bit fragile, they've had some breaking axles during the other races. I hope I can do a good job to put Johannes [co-driver van Overbeek] into position to keep his second place [in the driver championship], at least."

Peter Cunningham (#7 BMW M3) "We're pretty happy now with the progression we've made. We still have room for improvement, but we're much more comfortable with the balance of our car now. Today was a much better day and we're in a much better position for the race. We're going to make one more change for the warm-up tomorrow, and if that is inconclusive we'll probably come back to where we are now."

Mark Simo (#10 BMW M3) "Everybody's made pretty significant gains today over yesterday. I've got more comfortable with the car, but I think I've overdriven it and I haven't got the time I'm looking for. I'm looking to calm down and quit overworking the car to find that additional time. I don't think it's a long way off, but it's got to be dealt with."

BMW M3: Track Magic "We're going to have very good driver changes tomorrow because I have a meeting tonight with Siegfried from Siegfried and Roy. He's going to show us how to change drivers in less than three seconds," Stuck said. He was a guest of the magic pair for their 4339th show in Las Vegas Friday evening.

Elliot Forbes-Robinson (#16-P Riley & Scott Mk III/Ford) (on qualifying position) "We did as well as we could. We're not able to run with the BMW's or the Panoz cars, but we're right behind them. We got one Ferrari ahead of us who did run very well today. It's about as good as we could do." (on problems during yesterday's session) "We got the car a lot better today. We lost yesterday because the fact is we had a pickup on the crank that was gone so we never got any good laps in. This is the first day we've been able to test the car. So for one day behind I think we did OK. I think we'll have the car ready for the race and if we can hang in there we'll be alright. " (thoughts on the championship going into the last event) "Well all we can do is what we've done all along, the best we can with the car and hope it works out. It's worked so far. It may or not work out tomorrow but whatever happens we're going to be doing our best."

Mimmo Schiattarella (#0-P Riley & Scott Mk III/Judd) "For me, this is unbelievable. I'm happy for me but especially happy for the team. They worked so hard (repairing the car) since our big problem yesterday (when the tire exploded damaging the bodywork). It broke the nose and sidepods. There are no more spare parts but the car will be good for the race. We'll just have to be careful." Teammate Eric van de Poele "I'm so proud of him, and you can print that. He's my hero."

David Brabham (#1-P Panoz LMP-1 Roadster S/Ford) "It's important to get the fastest time, but the race is what's most important. As we all know, the fastest car doesn't always win the race. Our strategy is to stay out of trouble. The championship is at stake, and everybody has to stay on their toes. I think there will be a few incidents because it's slippery out there, and when cars run off they throw a lot of dirt and debris on the track. I spent a lot of time yesterday thinking about whether to go high on the banking or stay low on the apron. After awhile I decided I was spending too much time thinking about it and just concentrated on the rest of the corners. A race can throw up so many things, you can't really plan too much."

Olivier Beretta (#91-GTS Dodge Viper GTS-R) "We are here to finish the race. But it's not that easy to do. Many things can happen in a race, and not all of them are good. No question, the 91 car must stay out of trouble. But somebody will tell you when you try to stay out of trouble, that's when you get in trouble."

David Donohue (#91-GTS Dodge Viper GTS-R) "The track is so slippery to begin with, and with all the traffic, you never know. The disparity in speeds of the three classes is very, very high, and let's not forget that the slower every class has a lot at stake too. Plus the infield is very tight. We know what we want to do and should do, but doing that can be another story."

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About this article
Series ALMS , IMSA Others , PSR
Drivers David Brabham , Jan Magnussen , Karl Wendlinger , Ron Fellows , Andy Pilgrim , Wayne Taylor , Eric van de Poele , Tommy Archer , Justin Bell , Joachim Winkelhock , David Donohue , Derek Bell , Peter Cunningham , Mimmo Schiattarella , Belinda Endress , Olivier Beretta , John Mirro , Aliso Viejo , Cindi Lux , Divina Galica , Hugues de Chaunac