LEXINGTON, Ohio (August 12, 2001) -- The huge throng of race fans in attendance at this weekend's CART FedEx Championship Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course was treated to a sneak preview of the upcoming inaugural American Le Mans Series...
LEXINGTON, Ohio (August 12, 2001) -- The huge throng of race fans in attendance at this weekend's CART FedEx Championship Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course was treated to a sneak preview of the upcoming inaugural American Le Mans Series race at the famed road racing circuit.
Three cars from the ALMS and one from the Trans-Am Series ran demonstration laps on two occasions during the weekend, giving fans a small glimpse of the racing action they will get to see when the two series compete at Mid-Ohio on Saturday, August 25. The race weekend will mark the debut of the ALMS at Mid-Ohio and the return of international sports car racing to the historic course, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2001.
"I wanted a chance to drive the circuit before our race here in two weeks," said Rinaldo Capello, the Italian driver who is leading the ALMS point standings and has driven an Audi R8 Prototype to victory in three of the four races held this season. "I think it is a beautiful circuit, and there are some very deceiving parts of the track. I think the most important thing will be to get a good rhythm, but that will be difficult in the ALMS traffic."
In addition to the Audi, other ALMS cars on hand included a Panoz LMP-1 Roadster driven by Klaus Graf of Germany, and a BMW M3 GTR driven by Niclas Jonsson of Sweden. The Trans-Am Series was represented by the Ford Mustang of Tim Cowen.
Capello predicted lap times on the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio circuit to be in the range of 1:12 to 1:13 in the Audi, with a top speed of more than 160 mph on the fastest part of the course. "I like turn one," he said. "It is a very fast part of the circuit and you have to have a good reference point of where to tap the brake."
Like Capello, Graf and Jonsson were driving on the circuit for the first time when they ran demonstration laps on both Saturday and Sunday at Mid-Ohio.
"It's like a race track in the middle of a golf course," said Graf, referring to the beautiful surroundings. "It will take more skill to get a good lap here than on any circuit on the schedule," he said. "It will be a very close race with the traffic. The slow corners will help our car, and the Audi will be quicker in the high-speed sections, so it should be a great race."
"I like the track because it is a real challenge," said Jonsson. "There is a good mix of high and low grip corners and then there are those where the car gets light. It is going to be a good race. In some sections, we (GT cars) will be as fast or faster than the LMP 900s. The track invites you to challenge its corners. With the off-camber sections and the different surfaces it should be very exciting for the fans."
The American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio will include a two-hour, 45-minute race that will begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday, August 25, followed by a 100-mile race for the Trans-Am Series. Practice and qualifying for the ALMS and Trans-Am cars will be held on Friday, August 24.
Ticket information is available online at www.midohio.com or by calling 1-800-midohio.