BY THE NUMBERS: GRAND PRIX OF MOSPORT Braselton, Ga. - In the seventh year of the American Le Mans Series, one would be hard-pressed to find back-to-back races with a combined margin of victory less than the last two rounds. James Weaver and...
BY THE NUMBERS: GRAND PRIX OF MOSPORT
Braselton, Ga. - In the seventh year of the American Le Mans Series, one would be hard-pressed to find back-to-back races with a combined margin of victory less than the last two rounds.
James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger, in the No. 16 Dyson Racing Lola, won the Grand Prix of Mosport by 3.625 seconds, their second victory of the season. That came on the heels of a 3.239-second victory by the No. 2 Champion Racing Audi of Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro in the Generac 500 at Road America just two weeks earlier.
That's a combined 6.864 seconds. The only pair of ALMS races to offer such close finishes came in 2002 at Infineon Raceway (0.482 seconds) and Mid-Ohio (6.248) for a total combined margin of 6.730.
"When you have every single class on the race track, with no separation, it's absolutely remarkable," said Rob Dyson, owner of Dyson Racing. "Petit is going to be the (best race) of the year."
So far this season, close finishes have been the order in ALMS. Through eight rounds, the largest winning gap is 1:24.572, which came at Infineon. Interesting of note is that the winning margin at the New England Grand Prix was 1.719 seconds, and the combined margin of victory between Portland and Road America was 9.299 seconds.
TO THE POINT: With three class championships still up in the air for ALMS drivers, let's look at some of the closest drivers championship finishes in ALMS history.
Keep in mind that the P2 difference is 2 points between Jeff Bucknum/Chris McMurry and Clint Field, and 1 point in GT1 between Oliver Gavin/Olivier Beretta and Ron Fellows/Johnny O'Connell. The gap in GT2 between Jorg Bergmeister/Patrick Long and Timo Bernhard/Romain Dumas is 12 points. Even the LMP1 battle isn't over, with Pirro and Biela leading Andy Wallace by 18 points.
There are 49 possible points remaining over the next two rounds: Petit Le Mans and the Monterrey Sports Car Championships.
"Both the final races produce extra points," Long said. "So it is far from over. We know how strong the No. 23 car has been over the years. We can't settle down and become content."
There have been six championship ties in ALMS history, including two last season: JJ Lehto and Marco Werner in LMP1, and Fellows and O'Connell in GT1. The closest finish (aside from a tie) came in 2002 when Tom Kristensen beat Rinaldo Capello by 2 points in LMP1 during the 2002 season. The previous year, Terry Borcheller topped Franz Konrad by 3 points for the GT1 championship.
Last season produced the closest LMP2 finish for points, as Ian James topped James Gue by 4 points. And in 2001, Jorg Muller squeaked by Lehto for a 5-point margin in GT2.
AROUND THE PADDOCK: Borcheller's fast GT1 lap in qualifying made ACEMCO Motorsports the 26th different team to win a class pole in ALMS history. Corvette Racing's 1-2 finish at Mosport was its seventh straight, setting a new ALMS mark. It also marked the seventh straight win for the new Corvette C6-R, eight including the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The team set the old record (six) in 2002. . Andrea Bertolini scored a first for the No. 35 Maserati MC12, the fastest GT1 lap of the race at Mosport. Bertolini toured the 2.459-mile circuit in 1:13.988. . Chris Dyson became the 51st ALMS driver to score a pole position with his fast qualifying lap Saturday. . Five different drivers have won class poles in both P1 and GT1 this season, tying the all-time mark set last in P1. Biela and Pirro have completed an astonishing 99.75 percent of all class laps this season, followed closely by Fellows and O'Connell (99.74 percent) in GT1.
The ninth round of the American Le Mans Series is the 1,000-mile/10-hour Petit Le Mans, scheduled for 11:20 a.m. EDT Oct. 1 at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga. SPEED Channel will provide live television coverage. Qualifying is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. EDT Sept. 30. American Le Mans Series Radio, and IMSA Living and Timing Scoring will be available at www.americanlemans.com.