Lime Rock: Saturday report

Weaver, Dyson Team Win American Le Mans Pole at Lime Rock Lakeville, CT - James Weaver relied on years of experience on the tricky Lime Rock Park circuit to win the pole Saturday for Monday's American Le Mans Series New England Grand Prix sports...

Weaver, Dyson Team Win American Le Mans Pole at Lime Rock

Lakeville, CT - James Weaver relied on years of experience on the tricky Lime Rock Park circuit to win the pole Saturday for Monday's American Le Mans Series New England Grand Prix sports car race.

The English driver won the New Century Mortgage FastQual Award by turning a lap of 47.962 seconds (115.592 mph) on the 1.54-mile track, fastest of the 27 cars that will start the two-hour, 45-minute timed event. Weaver and Butch Leitzinger of State College, Penn., will co-drive a Lola EX257-AER/MG Prototype fielded by Dyson Racing, a team located less than an hour from Lime Rock in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

JJ Lehto qualified second in the ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 at 48.134. Lehto and co-driver Marco Werner won last weekend's ALMS race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Chris Dyson and Andy Wallace qualified third in another Dyson Lola.

"The car has been good all weekend," said Weaver, who also won the pole for the Mid-Ohio event but was eliminated by a mechanical problem on the first lap of the race. "We've tested a lot in the last few months and the car was competitive straight out of the truck. We were watching JJ (Lehto) qualify and he was absolutely wringing that car's neck, so we didn't know if he had anything left. We were still quick even at the end of qualifying. The Audis are tough to beat because they have all the bases covered but we think we have a few things left in our back pocket for the race."

"We had a little bit of a hectic morning because we had a leak on the radiator and spent some time fixing that," said Lehto. "We changed the car a lot after the first practice yesterday and we kind of liked it in a way but then there were some other things we didn't like so we went back to set-ups. Qualifying was the maximum effort for us. I was able to do a couple of similar lap times but I couldn't gain or improve so I thought I would come in and save the tires."

BERETTA WINS FIRST POLE SINCE 2000

Olivier Beretta won his first ALMS pole since the end of the 2000 season when he drove the Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C5-R to the GTS class pole with a time of 51.425. Beretta, who will co-drive with Oliver Gavin, won 10 poles in two seasons with the former Dodge Viper factory effort operated by Team ORECA.

"It's always good to be on the pole," said Beretta, in his first season with the factory Corvette team. "The crew and team worked hard together. The pole is not our number one target, the race is more important. I walked the track the first day. It's difficult to get the grip, but I like the place. The team is professional, they know what to do, and that's a big help for the drivers. They adapt the car to the driving style. Oliver and I drive very similar, it's like there's one driver."

The other Corvette Racing entry of Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell qualified second, followed by the ACEMCO Saleen S7R of Terry Borcheller and Johnny Mowlem.

"I figured the pole would be somewhere in the low 51's," said Fellows, who has teamed with O'Connell to win the GTS class in both ALMS races held this season. "Dan Binks (car chief) used some good strategy to pull us into the pits to get a better spot on the track (during qualifying), but I was only able to get two clear laps. Both of the Corvettes are well prepared for this race-Olivier got a better spot on the track to run. I think Johnny and I are happy with the car's feel for the race."

DUMAS EARNS FIRST ALMS POLE IN GT

Romain Dumas, in his first full season of ALMS racing, won the GT class pole with a lap of 54.659 in the Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The French driver, who will share the car with Marc Lieb of Germany, was happy to win his first pole but gave credit to the Job organization.

"It was ok but the traffic was bad," said Dumas, who drove with the Job team in selected races last season. "I never could try to make one good lap. I couldn't believe I got the pole. I'm happy for the team. Last weekend we weren't lucky, but we have the same car and the same team. The car is better in traffic now than last weekend. Marc and I are a good team. We have the same style and it's a good car for the race."

Lucas Luhr qualified second in the GT class in the BAM! Porsche he will share with Leo Hindery, while qualifying third in class was the other Job Porsche driven by Jorg Bergmeister and Timo Bernhard.

BUCKNUM ON LMP2 POLE AGAIN

Jeff Bucknum won his second consecutive LMP2 class pole in the Team Bucknum Racing Pilbeam MP91, posting a lap time of 51.701 in the car he will share with Chris McMurry and Bryan Willman. Last week at Mid-Ohio, he also won the pole but his car's ignition system failed on the first lap of the race.

"It was very frustrating at the moment, I didn't know what to tell the crew," he said about the failure at Mid-Ohio. "It turned out to be a failure in the ignition switch on the dash. I could turn the starter motor, but it was as if I'd turned the switch off.

"For the season, the (LMP2) class has come to us," he said. "We were chasing the MG Lolas for the past two years but now they were moved up a class and we've done a lot of work to make the cars faster. We hope that our good luck is ahead of us and we'll have a lot of good finishes."

The Race Car Company's Lola B2K/40-Millington of Andy Lally and Ryan Eversley qualified second in the class for smaller, less-powerful Prototypes, while third in class was the Intersport Lola-Judd of Clint Field and Mike Durand.

HOLIDAY RACE ON MONDAY

Local ordinances in the area of Lime Rock Park prohibit racing on Sunday, setting the race for the Monday national holiday of Independence Day in the USA. The race will start at 3 p.m. (Eastern) and will be a timed event of two hours, 45 minutes.

The race will be televised live by the SPEED Channel in North America and MotorsTV in Europe. The American Le Mans Series Radio Web will have live coverage online at www.americanlemans.com.

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Andy Wallace , Butch Leitzinger , James Weaver , Ron Fellows , Johnny O'Connell , Lucas Luhr , Leo Hindery , Andy Lally , Terry Borcheller , Jörg Bergmeister , Timo Bernhard , Marco Werner , Chris McMurry , Bryan Willman , Jeff Bucknum , Johnny Mowlem , Marc Lieb , Romain Dumas , Olivier Beretta , Alex Job , Chris Dyson , JJ Lehto
Teams Corvette Racing , Dyson Racing , Alex Job Racing