Allan McNish and Rinaldo Capello won the Grand Prix of Mosport American Le Mans Series race in the No. 2 Audi R10 TDI, completing 113 laps in the two hour 45 minute race, in the process clinching the LMP1 class championship. While champagne soaked...
Allan McNish and Rinaldo Capello won the Grand Prix of Mosport American Le Mans Series race in the No. 2 Audi R10 TDI, completing 113 laps in the two hour 45 minute race, in the process clinching the LMP1 class championship. While champagne soaked the new champions after the race, the rain that had soaked the track the previous day, canceling qualifying, held off, and the race was run under dark skies in cool temperatures.
The diesel-powered Audi is unbeaten in six races, and is the first diesel-powered car to win a championship in a major racing series. "I have had a lot of success with Audi," said Capello, "but never a championship. Finally it has happened with Allan."
Butch Leitzinger, in the No. 16 Dyson Racing Team Lola B06/10 AER, lead from the start. He and Capello had a good battle thoughout the first half hour. Capello passed Leitzinger on lap 27 when Leitzinger went wide at turn one, but Capello was repassed before the end of the lap on the Mario Andretti straight-away.
Behind these two were Emanuele Pirro, in the sister No. 1 Audi, Lucas Luhr in the No. 7 Penske Motorsport Porsce RS Spyder, the first of the LMP2 class cars. Chris Dyson, driving the No. 20 Dyson Lola was followed by Sascha Maasan in the No. 6 Penske Porsche, Liz Halliday in the P2 Intersport Racing Lola B05/40 AER and then in 8th, the last of the P1 cars, Chris McMurry in the Autocon Motorsports Lola EX257 AER.
McMurry, though ran into the LMGT2 Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz Esperante of Scott Maxwell, while lapping him, and suffered enough damage to put his car out of the race, leaving the P1 class as a four way race.
And a close race it was. The leading three of Letizinger, Capello, and Pirro were covered by about half a second 35 laps into the race.
At the first pit stops, Letizinger was not replaced by teammate James Weaver, but Capello was replaced by Allan McNish. Despite the longer pitstop, McNish held the lead since Capello had put together a string of fast laps after Leitzinger pitted.
Leitzinger, though, regained the lead on the main straight in traffic, and the battle continued, with Frank Biela, who had replaced Pirro in third and Guy Smith, who had replaced Dyson in fourth. Smith then began a tremendous drive.
At about the one hour 25 minute mark, Smith passed Biela for third, then McNish survived a scare when he barely squeezed past a spinning GT car. This got the field closer together.
When Leitzinger finally was replaced by Weaver, he fell to fourth. McNish made a pit stop for fuel only, and this put Smith into the lead.
So, at about lap 85 we had Smith 20 seconds ahead of McNish, 30 seconds ahead of Biela, with Weaver 1:05 back, all pretty close, but the gaps were growing. Biela pitted not much later, and fell behind Weaver. Biela and Weaver were now a lap down to Smith and McNish.
When Smith pitted at the two hour two minute mark, they regained their lap, but they would finish in 3rd and 4th anyway. All eyes were now on the front two. McNish led Smith by 19 seconds.
At two hours and 10 minutes, the Scot had it down to 15.7 seconds, then 11.425, but McNish had help from fellow Audi teammate Biela, stuck in fourth. When Smith tried to lap Biela he was held up and the gap grew to 15 seconds.
Weaver was now doing fastest laps, with times in the 1:07s, almost a race record, but he was too far behind Smith to challenge, and then it was Smith who started creeping towards the race record.
He had the gap down to 10 seconds with nine minutes left, and then five seconds on the second last lap, but he never quite had enough. McNish though won by only 2.794 seconds, and clinched the championship for himself, Capello and Audi.
McNish noted Smith's great drive. "I knew we were going to struggle when Guy came out only 20 seconds behind. We had longer tires and we had more trouble with pickup but I gave it all she had."
Lucas Luhr and Romain Dumas dominated the P2 class all weekend, often putting their Penske Racing Porsches into the times of the P1 cars. They started the race from 3rd on the grid, ahead of three other P1 cars, and set the second fastest time overall in the warm-up.
"Before the race, we decided to focus on our performance within the LMP2 class, to be safe and try to bring home another 1-2 finish," said Luhr.
At the start Luhr ran 3rd overall but soon the field divided up into its classes, and he sat 5th overall behind the four remaining P1 cars. However, he was still quick, and proved it by passing the 4th placed Dyson, sitting only 10 seconds behind the P1 battle in the top three.
Dyson would regain that position though, and Luhr, then teammate Romain Dumas would sit in 5th overall leading the P2 race, ahead of Liz Halliday in the second class P2 car, until Halliday's teammate Clint Field hit trouble, pitted -- and experienced a brake fire -- effectively putting the team out of the race.
Luhr/Dumas ran ahead of their teammates Sascha Maassen and Timo Bernhard to the end, finishing 8.887 seconds ahead.
Field eventually rejoined the race, but finished 30 laps behind the two Penske Porsches, but it was good enough for 3rd in the three car class.
Luhr is now tied with teammate Maassen in the championship. "I am delighted to be tied with Sascha in the Drivers Championship. His and my goal is to win the title together."
The Aston Martin Racing 009 team of Pedro Lamy and Stephane Sarrazin looked like they would dominate the LMGT1 class at Mosport, and at the end they did. But there was some doubt along the way.
At the beginning they lead the class, with the Corvette of Olivier Beretta behind with the other Corvette Racing C6-R of local hero Ron Fellows. Peter Kox, in the No. 007 Aston Martin DB9R spun before the start line, on the last corner of the recon and fell down the GT1 field to 4th and last.
"It was a good start for me," said Lamy, "my pace was fast and I was able to maintain the lead. I pushed as hard as I could, I had excellent grip and the car was well-balanced."
However, they were to have some luck too. Fellows was given a stop-go penalty, and fell behind Kox. That combined with a caution period, caused Kox and Fellows to become a lap down on Lamy and Beretta, so there were two races now, each involving two cars. One race for first and second, and the other for third and fourth. Fellows however, did not agree with the stop-and-go penalty.
"It was a bad call," said Fellows. "I was on the right, and the 007 was supposed to be on the left. I think he was attempting to fall into line behind the 009, but you must maintain your position until the start-finish line. He came across the nose of my car as we were exiting Turn 10, nowhere near the start-finish line. How is that my fault? After the stop-and-go penalty, we didn't have a chance."
The positions stayed that way until after the driver changes, with Sarrazin leading Beretta's co-driver Oliver Gavin, and Tomas Enge sitting ahead of Johnny O'Connell, Fellow's replacement. At Sarrazin's last pit stop, however, they decided to change tires. This lengthy stop sent Sarrazin eight seconds behind Gavin, so now it was a different race. Some wondered if Gavin would need to make another stop. Sarrazin made that a non issue though, when he caught and passed Gavin in 13 minutes.
"I rejoined the race after my last pit stop in second place," said Sarrazin. "I thought that the Corvette did not have to pit again so I pushed like crazy to catch him up on my fresh tires. He closed the door on me a couple of times and then I said to myself I have to get past him and go on the outside of the track. It was a big moment, it was a little bit scary but luckily it worked out ok. I didn't know until right near the end if it was possible to win and I really wanted to win this race so I pushed like I was on qualifying tires every lap and it paid off."
Gavin later pitted anyway and fell to 42 seconds behind Sarrazin, and the positions remained that way. "The pit strategy could have paid off if it had rained or we had caught an opportune caution period," Gavin theorized.
And that was how it finished: Sarrazin/Lamy in front of Beretta/Gavin, Enge/Kox, then O'Connell/Fellows.
"The track conditions and the Pirelli tires meant that we could win here," said Lamy. "This is the first time Aston Martin Racing has competed in Canada with the DBR9 so it is great to succeed here, especially on such a nice but risky track. I'm really pleased; it is a great victory for Aston Martin and the second win for the 009 car this year."
Johnny Mowlem and Stephane Ortelli won the LMGT2 class in their Risi Cometizione Ferrari 430 GT Berlinetta by using a different pit strategy from the rest of the class. Though Marc Lieb led early on, ahead of Patrick Long, Ortelli and Marcel Tiemann, Ortelli pitted a lot later than the rest.
Ortelli took over the lead when the rest pitted. When his co-driver Mowlem came out after the pit stop, he sat third, behind Lieb's replacement, Johannes van Overbeek, and Gunnar Jeannette who had taken over from Tom Milner.
However, van Overbeek hit trouble with a wheel fire, and fell to 7th in the No. 45 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.
There was very little movement after that, with van Overbeek gaining some positions to finish 3rd, behind Mowlem, and Maurizio Mediani in the other Risi Competizone Ferrari.