Niclas JÃ–Nsson Alms Grand Prix Of Portland August 3 To 5, 2001 Birthday laps Niclas JÃ¶nsson hopes to celebrate his 34th birthday with a victory in Sunday's American Le Mans Series race at Portland International Raceway. (His birthday is ...
Alms Grand Prix Of Portland
August 3 To 5, 2001
Niclas Jönsson hopes to celebrate his 34th birthday with a victory in Sunday's American Le Mans Series race at Portland International Raceway. (His birthday is Saturday, Aug. 4.) The Swedish driver, now living in Aliso Viejo, Calif., is looking for his first win with BMW Team PTG, in the No. 10 BMW M3 GTR he drives with Bill Auberlen of Hermosa Beach, Calif.
"I feel due for a victory in the ALMS," Jönsson said. "Last year, Brian Cunningham and I were very competitive, but we had some bad luck with a couple of mechanical problems and yellow flags. This year, Bill and I have been quick in testing in all the places we've gone to so far, and we are ready to get to the top of the podium!"
Jönsson has a strong background in both open-wheel and sports cars, with experience in the Indy Racing League, Indy Lights, Formula Three, Touring Cars and ALMS prototype and GT cars. He has tested and raced several vehicles on the 1.944-mile Portland road course.
"The Indy Lights car is an open-wheel car with a heavy rear end, so there is always a problem with understeer, especially in Portland because the infield is always slick," he noted. "The prototype is a more balanced car, with better handling and much better performance on this track. The BMW GT car is very strong, balanced and quick. I'm looking forward to going back with the more superior GTR car and our well-balanced Yokohama tires. I think we'll have a very good chance this year."
A former driving instructor, Jönsson stresses the importance of the seat position in street cars: "Most people lay down too much in the car, but they have to stretch their arms to even reach the steering wheel, which is ridiculous! You should sit up and place your hands so you can look at your palms through the steering wheel. That's how close and straight up you want to sit, so you can control the car with both the pedals and the steering wheel."
Jönsson holds a psychology degree in recreational therapy. He says his experience working with abused children in Sweden pays dividends in America, where he supports the Motorsports Ministries trackside program for troubled youth.
- Sylvia Proudfoot