Mid-Ohio: Saturday report

Weaver Wins Mid-Ohio Pole in Dramatic Qualifying Session Lexington, OH - James Weaver pulled off a flying lap near the end of a dramatic, record-setting qualifying session Saturday to win the pole position for Sunday's American Le Mans Series...

Weaver Wins Mid-Ohio Pole in Dramatic Qualifying Session

Lexington, OH - James Weaver pulled off a flying lap near the end of a dramatic, record-setting qualifying session Saturday to win the pole position for Sunday's American Le Mans Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Three of the four New Century Mortgage FastQual Award winners set new track American Le Mans Series qualifying records with the overall pole position determined by only 0.061 second. Sunday's two-hour, 45-minute sports car race starts at 1 p.m. (Eastern) on the 2.25-mile, 13-turn road racing circuit.

Weaver, driving the Dyson Racing Lola EX257-AER/MG, turned a track record lap of 1:12.123, easily bettering the previous track record of 1:14.169 that was set by Frank Biela the last time the ALMS raced at Mid-Ohio in 2002.

"The car was just perfect," said Weaver. "We had a problem with a fluid pipe in practice but the team repaired that and it was no problem. We tested here several weeks ago and fine-tuned the car, and it was exciting today."

Marco Werner, driving the ADT Champion Racing Audi R8, had posted a fast lap of 1:12.184 early in the session and the German driver appeared to have the pole position clinched until Weaver beat the time with five minutes left in the 20-minute session. Werner went back on the track but slid off course in turn two, ending his bid to better Weaver's time. He and co-driver JJ Lehto will start second.

"I didn't brake properly," said Werner, co-champion of the ALMS in the top Prototype class last year. "I'm still learning this circuit and I just made a mistake."

Third-fastest overall and in the LMP1 class was the other Dyson entry driven by Andy Wallace and Chris Dyson at 1:12.372.

"What's been shown is there are three top cars with only two-tenths of a second separating them," said Wallace. "Out of the trailer our car was very good, we tested partially for performance and partially for reliability."

"We've certainly benefited from testing here," said team owner Rob Dyson. "We have limited resources so it was more important for us to stay home and test for the rest of the ALMS season than to go to France to race at Le Mans. We worked with Goodyear and assisted them in developing a good roster of tires, and they have really stepped up their program. If we had gone to France, we couldn't do that as efficiently as we have. We had a steady momentum in testing and we're confident the testing has paid off."


Jeff Bucknum scored his first career ALMS pole in the LMP2 class with a time of 1:17.246 in the Team Bucknum Racing Pilbeam MP91. He will co-drive in Sunday's race with Chris McMurry and Bryan Willman. Bucknum qualified fourth overall at the track where the team scored its first ALMS class win in 2002.

"We have three drivers (in our car) that are close, so we have to divide up the driving time more than most of the other teams," he said. "I didn't practice it this morning. The car felt good, 1:17 was quite a surprise, but I made a couple of mistakes, and it could have been even faster. This car is really good and we're in good shape to stay ahead of the class."

Second-fastest in class was the Intersport Racing Lola B2K/40-Judd of Clint Field and Robin Liddell at 1:19.855, while third was the Miracle Motorsports Lola-Nissan of Ian James, John Macaluso and James Gue at 1:20.485.

The Intersport team is coming off scoring the LMP2 class win two weeks ago in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.


Corvette Racing qualified 1-2 in the GTS class with its yellow Chevrolet Corvette C5-Rs. Oliver Gavin put the #4 car on the class pole with a track record lap of 1:18.622, good enough for fifth overall. He will co-drive with Olivier Beretta. The #3 Corvette of Johnny O'Connell and Ron Fellows was second at 1:19.148.

Rounding out the top three in the GTS class was the much-improved ACEMCO Saleen S7R of Terry Borcheller and Johnny Mowlem at 1:19.686.

"The car is doing pretty well, actually quite well in practice," said Gavin, the GTS class winner two weeks ago at Le Mans with Beretta and Jan Magnussen. "Our qualifying was straight forward, we had a clear lap. We didn't want to put more laps on the tires so we came in.

"It was the first time here for Olivier (Beretta) and he's learning the way around," he said. "We're looking forward to the race, I'm intrigued on how fast the Saleen is, we

hope to have good close race."


Despite spinning out on his third qualifying lap, Timo Bernhard won his second consecutive pole this season in the GT class with a track record lap of 1:22.909 in the Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. He will co-drive with Jorg Bergmeister.

Bernhard went out and quickly posted a fast lap, but got off-line in the track's "S" turns and spun, causing the car to stall. Bernhard could not restart the car due to problems with the starter and had to be towed in, ending his session.

"The turns here all have concrete on the inside and I missed the concrete, causing me to spin," he said. "The problem with the starter has been fixed and it will be ok for the race."

Qualifying second in its racing debut was the new Panoz Motor Sports Panoz Esperante GT-LM of David Saelens and Gunnar Jeannette at 1:23.583, although the car had an engine problem after Saelens only had four laps, causing the team to have to make its second engine change of the day to be ready to race on Sunday.

"(The first change) was one of the fastest engine changes we've ever done, maybe in history," said Jeannette with a laugh. "When we came out we saw something wrong with the idle and adjusted it dramatically and it seemed to work fine. I don't know if that turned out to be the problem. We were supposed to be working out the bugs early in testing. Last month we were getting it all together with the Pirellis. Everyone is working really hard."

Qualifying third in class was the other Job Porsche of Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb at 1:23.588.


American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio will be televised in North America by CBS Sports from 2-4 p.m. (Eastern). The race will also be televised live in Europe by MotorsTV.

The American Le Mans Series Radio Web will have live coverage of the event online at www.americanlemans.com. Fans can also follow the event with IMSA Live Timing & Scoring online at www.americanlemans.com.


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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Andy Wallace , David Saelens , Frank Biela , James Weaver , Ron Fellows , Johnny O'Connell , Robin Liddell , Rob Dyson , Ian James , Terry Borcheller , Oliver Gavin , Jörg Bergmeister , Gunnar Jeannette , Timo Bernhard , John Macaluso , James Gue , Marco Werner , Clint Field , 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