--The Labour Day Grand Prix of Mosport, taking place north of Toronto, will be the site where the tightest championship battle in the American Le Mans Series continues - that of the two Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs fighting for the GT2 class ...
--The Labour Day Grand Prix of Mosport, taking place north of Toronto, will be the site where the tightest championship battle in the American Le Mans Series continues - that of the two Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs fighting for the GT2 class title--
BOWMANVILLE, Ontario (Canada) - September 1 - With their GT2 class victory two weeks ago at Road America, the Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Porsche of Jorg Bergmeister and Patrick Long took some time to celebrate pulling within two points of the class lead, but it's back to work this weekend with Sunday's Labour Day Grand Prix of Mosport (televised live on The Speed Channel on Sunday, September 4 at 3:00 PM EDT as well as live web radio at www.americanlemans.com, which will also cover qualifying).
"Both teams have been waiting for the other team to stumble so they can run away with the title, but Jorg and I had our bad race at Portland (eighth), while the Alex Job Porsche of Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas did not finish Sebring. Otherwise, even when one team has won, the other has finished second or third. If that trend continues for the last three events, this could go down to the last lap of the last race," said Long, the Las Vegas resident who made the daring pass two laps from the end to bring his team victory in Wisconsin on August 21.
Timo Bernhard agrees, and points out the importance of team strategy and pit stops in these short, two-hour, 45-minute events, especially since the drivers on both teams are so evenly matched.
"The drivers need to be mistake-free, but everyone needs perfect pit stops, smart fuel strategy, and a good dose of good luck to avoid on-track incidents, bad location when the pace car comes out for a yellow flag (to avoid losing a lap to the overall leader), and green flag stops," said Bernhard, who feels that Alex Job Racing, with its three- straight ALMS championship wins, has the edge in this department.
Bernhard, the defending GT2 class champion, who, with co-driver Dumas, has four victories this season. Long/Bergmeister have won twice, and the Panoz Esperante has the other GT2 win.
With the competition in the American Le Mans Series at such a high level, there are other Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs which could crack the top three this weekend and get right in the middle of the championship points battle.
Alex Job Racing and Bell Microsystems has fielded a second car for the 2005 season, which has been driven by veteran GT driver Randy Pobst, from Atlanta, and defending U.S. Formula Ford 2000 champion Ian Baas, from Noblesville, IN. Pobst has left the team, however, to concentrate on his pursuit of the Speed World Challenge Touring car championship, so Darren Law, from Phoenix, has been hired to run the rest of the season - except for Petit Le Mans - in the second AJR Porsche. Baas' best finish has been a fourth a Lime Rock.
Flying Lizard Motorsports, last year's runner-up to Alex Job Racingt, has entered two Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs, including the lead "Lizards'" entry with drivers Johannes van Overbeek, from San Francisco, and Jon Fogarty, from Petaluma, CA, sharing the racing duties. Fogarty and van Overbeek, who have three third-place finishes and a fourth in the last three events, led the Road America event twice, including late in the event when Fogarty got trapped behind another car and Long scooted by him for the lead. Seth Neiman, from Burlingame, CA, and Lonnie Pechnik, from Pacific Grove, CA, driving the second team car, lead the Mid-Ohio event into the last hour of the race before falling back, and were in the top three at Infineon raceway when a loose wheel lug caused an extra pit stop, pushing them back in the field.
The BAM! Racing team, from Stuart, FL, is not in the season championship points race as it has employed a selection of different drivers for the first four events, but for the past several races, it has hired recent 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Mike Rockenfeller, from Germany, co-driving with defending Porsche Michelin Supercup champion and current SCCA Speed World Challenge contender Wolf Henzler, also from Germnay, for the Le Mans-winning BAM! Porsche. The pair drove together at Infineon Raceway, finishing third, and were fourth two weeks ago at Road America. Rockenfeller is leading his class in the FIA-GT series, while Henzler, who is currently in fourth place in the World Challenge series in his Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, has two wins and four pole positions in that series, as well as two 2005 Grand-Am GT wins, including a victory at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.
All the GT2 teams mentioned above had a role in the American Porsche team sweep of the GT2 podium at last month's 24 Hours of Le Mans. The winning car is the same BAM! Porsche fans will see at Road America, entered by Alex Job Racing, and driven by Rockenfeller along with his FIA-GT teammate Marc Lieb and American TV executive Leo Hindery. Second was the same Petersen Motorsport/White Lightning Porsche driven by Patrick Long/Jorg Bergmeister/Timo Bernhard - contenders all the way despite an engine which was down on horsepower because of cooling problems. Completing the American sweep was the third place Flying Lizard Motorsport Porsche of Seth Neiman/Lonnie Pechnik/Johannes van Overbeek - all drivers from the San Francisco Bay area and all first-timers at the French classic.
J3 Racing, from Buford, GA, had its best ALMS finish ever at Sebring, finishing second in GT2 with regular Tim Sugden, from Leeds, England, and guest driver Nic Jonsson, from Atlanta. Jackson/Sugden also have a third-place finish at Mid-Ohio to their credit this year.