Weaver Wins American Le Mans Mosport Pole For Dyson; Flying Lizard Snaps Job Pole Streak in GT BOWMANVILLE, ON, Canada - James Weaver, driving on what he considers his favorite race track, won the pole Saturday for Sunday's American Le ...
Weaver Wins American Le Mans Mosport Pole For Dyson; Flying Lizard Snaps Job Pole Streak in GT
BOWMANVILLE, ON, Canada - James Weaver, driving on what he considers his favorite race track, won the pole Saturday for Sunday's American Le Mans Series Toronto Grand Prix of Mosport sports car race at Mosport International Raceway.
The English driver steered the Dyson Racing MG Lola EX257-AER Prototype to a fast lap of 1:07.430, averaging 131.283 mph around the 2.459-mile, 10-turn road racing circuit located east of Toronto. He will co-drive with Butch Leitzinger in the two-hour, 45-minute timed event.
Meanwhile, the upstart Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche team and driver Lonnie Pechnik pulled off an upset in GT class qualifying, snapping a 22-race class pole-winning streak by the Porsches of Alex Job Racing. The last time that a non-Job car had won the GT class pole for an ALMS event was in May of 2002 at Sonoma, Calif., when Kevin Buckler won the pole for The Racer's Group. Each of the four class pole winners received the $1,000 New Century Mortgage FastQual Award.
Weaver won his third pole of the season but he and Leitzinger are still pursuing their first win since July of 2003.
"This is just a brilliant, brilliant circuit, and I love driving on it," said Weaver. "Our car and the tires work marvelously here with the long straights and the high-speed turns. We've raced here a lot over the years and we tested here earlier this year, and the car is working perfectly."
JJ Lehto and Marco Werner, seeking their fifth consecutive overall race win in the ALMS this season, will start second after Werner qualified the ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 at 1:07.875. Chris Dyson and Andy Wallace, driving a Dyson team car, will start third after Dyson ran 1:09.521.
"This is better for us than last year," said Lehto. "We are much faster and much closer than last year. The Dyson team was fast here last year and we were almost a second off. Now we're only less than half a second off which is a good sign that we are better than before. It will be a long race and a tough race. The teamwork will have to be perfect in order for us to win this race."
PECHNIK SETS GT RECORD IN POLE RUN
Pechnik, in his first full season of ALMS racing, set a Mosport GT class track qualifying record with his run of 1:18.365 in a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The previous record of 1:18.873 had stood since being set in 2001 by Dirk Muller in a BMW M3 GTR.
"I am actually quite stunned," said Pechnik, who will co-drive with Seth Neiman. "I knew I had a good lap, we had a good looking track and it only got better. With the sun coming out I thought the Alex Job cars would be faster. We had some good qualifying runs at Portland and (Infineon), and today it just came together."
The Flying Lizard team is new to the ALMS this season but the team's other car, driven by Johannes van Overbeek and Darren Law, has already recorded a win and the drivers lead the GT class standings. Pechnik, who has extensive experience as a road racing instructor, is competing in actual races this year for the first time since 1991.
"In 1991, I drove for Skip Barbour in the Formula Fords for a year but like most racers, we ran out of money," he said. "I did well racing with the likes of Jerry Nadeau and Skip Boss. Skip Barbour brought me on as an instructor, it wasn't racing but it was performance driving. It's taken me a bit to rise up to where I was in 1991. The team's been really been amazing and improving. They're really great and I'm really happy."
The two Job Porsches were close behind Pechnik in the qualifying session. Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas will start second in class after Lieb turned a lap of 1:18.654, while third was the car driven by Jorg Bergmeister and Timo Bernhard at 1:18.579.
"Well our pole streak ended at 22," said team owner Job. "That was a nice run for the team. It shows the quality of drivers and team that we have. Marc did a nice job to qualify in second and Jorg was just a couple tenths back. We can see the front from where we are at on the grid. The 44 (Pechnik) did a remarkable lap, how they found more than a second from their best practice time is quite a feat. Once again this shows the competitiveness of the GT field."
GAVIN EDGES HOME TRACK HERO FOR GTS POLE
Ron Fellows hasn't won an American Le Mans Series pole position at Mosport, his home track, the past three years but has still been able to win the race. The resident of nearby Mississauga, Ont., hopes that holds true again Sunday.
Fellows was upstaged in Saturday's qualifying session when Corvette teammate Oliver Gavin won the GTS class pole. Gavin's record lap of 1:13.317 in a Chevrolet Corvette C5-R that he will share with Olivier Beretta was only .012 second faster than the time turned by Fellows during the two-lap qualifying session. Fellows and co-driver Johnny O'Connell are seeking to win the GTS class in the ALMS event at Mosport for the fourth straight year.
"I was completely oblivious to Ron's time," said Gavin. "I knew it would be close, it has been all season. Of course, Ron knows this course pretty well. It was a good lap, I screwed up turn 1, but it was a good lap nonetheless. The track came in very well on my second lap."
"I didn't want to know what Ollie had run," said Fellows. "I just wanted to go out and run a good lap. When I finished, I looked down on the dash and saw I had run a 13.3 and I said 'please let that be enough.' It's unbelievable that we're running 1:13 around this track in a modified Corvette. That would have been the Formula One pole here in '71."
Terry Borcheller and Johnny Mowlem will start third in class in the ACEMCO Saleen S7R with a time of 1:14.792.
The GTS class lost two cars Saturday when Krohn-Barbor Racing withdrew its two Lamborghini Murcielago R-GT entries, one of which was to have been driven by Toronto resident Scott Maxwell. The team said that the cars developed handling abnormalities which were found to be due to a partial and gradual deformation of the cars' rear lower suspension wishbones. The cars' straightline tracking was affected, requiring the drivers to hold the steering wheel off-center to drive in a straight line. If the cars were to continue running, the condition would likely worsen, the team said.
"We've made this decision only after a lot of careful consideration, and of course with regret," said team manager Dick Barbour. "But I've been racing more than 25 years, and that's long enough to know these kinds of things happen. The Mosport circuit is the most demanding we've been to yet, and the Lamborghini is a new race car that we only took delivery of six weeks ago. The early days of this program were always going to be a learning process, and today we've learned that one particular component needs modifying."
FIELD-LIDDELL TO RIDE FROM LMP2 POLE
Clint Field and Robin Liddell will chase their third straight LMP2 class win from the pole after Field turned a lap of 1:14.486 in the Intersport Racing Lola B2K/40-Judd. The duo took wins in the class for smaller, less-powerful Prototypes at Sonoma, Calif., and Portland, Ore., consecutively after also winning in late June at Lexington, Ohio.
"I don't have much experience here," said Field, who also won the LMP2 class in the 24 Hours of Le Mans this season. "I don't have much experience most places. It's just about learning. I've switched prototype classes so many times in my career, I have to get used to this car here."
Ian James, John Macaluso and James Gue will provide the only competition for the class win in the Miracle Motorsports Lola-Nissan. The Team Bucknum Racing Pilbeam MP91-Nissan of Chris McMurry, Bryan Willman and Jeff Bucknum withdrew from the event after losing its only engine in practice Saturday morning.
The Toronto Grand Prix of Mosport will get the green flag at 12 noon (Eastern) on Sunday. CBS Sports will have live television coverage of the event from 2-4 p.m. (Eastern), while the race will also be televised live in Europe by MotorsTV beginning at 18:00 (UK time).
The American Le Mans Series Radio Web will have live coverage that can be heard at no charge online at www.americanlemans.com.