Braselton, GA - Driving championships in both the LMP2 and GT classes of the American Le Mans Series for 2004 will be decided when the professional sports car racing series holds its season finale event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, ...
Braselton, GA - Driving championships in both the LMP2 and GT classes of the American Le Mans Series for 2004 will be decided when the professional sports car racing series holds its season finale event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif., Oct. 14-16.
Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell clinched their second consecutive GTS driving title by finishing second in class in Saturday's Chevy presents Petit Le Mans event at Road Atlanta, and JJ Lehto and Marco Werner had already clinched the LMP1 title by winning the previous event at Road America.
However, the driving title races in the LMP2 and GT classes still have battles that could go either way in the four-hour event that will be run on Saturday, October 16. The race will mark the first event in the long history of the Laguna Seca circuit that will run into darkness, starting at 4 p.m.
In the LMP2 class, Ian James has led the driver standings since being part of the winning team in the season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March. But the worst-case scenario happened to James and the Miracle Motorsports team in the Petit Le Mans when they scored no points due to a mechanical retirement before the Courage C65-AER had completed 70 percent of the 1,000-mile endurance race.
The no-points score of James was the best-case scenario for drivers Clint Field and Robin Liddell of Intersport Racing, whose only hope in the driver championship was to win the last two races of the season and have James score no points. Joined by third driver Milka Duno, Field and Liddell took the LMP2 class win at Road Atlanta in their Lola B2K/40-Judd and now trail James by 21 points going into the Monterey event.
With the extended-length Monterey event awarding 23 points to the winner, Field and Liddell's only chance of overtaking James and winning the driving title is to win again and have James again score no points. Field and Liddell have won five times this season, tying Didier de Radigues (2001) for the most wins in a single season since the introduction of the LMP2 class in 2001.
"It's a shame," said James, who was the leading the Petit Le Mans with co-drivers James Gue and John Macaluso when an electrical problem sidelined the car. "The car was running really well and we tried everything to fix it."
"We've kept the championship alive," said Liddell. "We honestly thought we had no chance until it was pointed out to us that there was a possibility."
In the GT class, Timo Bernhard, driver for Alex Job Racing in a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, holds a 15-point lead over Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche drivers Johannes van Overbeek and Darren Law. No other drivers can win the championship.
Bernhard scored his fifth GT class win of the season when he and co-drivers Jorg Bergmeister and Sascha Maassen won at the Petit Le Mans. "It's going to be very close with the Flying Lizards," said Bernhard. "The win helped a little but it's not over."
With the 15-point margin, Bernhard can secure his first ALMS driving title by scoring sixth place or better points, no matter where Law and van Overbeek finish. But if van Overbeek and Law win, and Bernhard finishes seventh, they will win the title by one point. If Bernhard were to score no points because his car did not finish 70 percent of the race, van Overbeek and Law would still have to finish third or higher to overcome Bernhard's lead.