ALMS race in Portland, Oregon (USA), on 5 August 2001 Flat stage in Portland Munich. Ruler-flat, short and fast just about sums up the Portland International Raceway on which Team BMW Motorsport will be contesting its next event in the American...
ALMS race in Portland, Oregon (USA), on 5 August 2001
Flat stage in Portland
Munich. Ruler-flat, short and fast just about sums up the Portland International Raceway on which Team BMW Motorsport will be contesting its next event in the American Le Mans Series(ALMS) on 5 August. Following victory at the Sears Point roller-coaster by JJ Lehto (FIN)/Jorg Muller (D), the characteristics of the circuit at the foot of Mount Hood in the US state of Oregon pose a new challenge for the BMW M3 GTRs: racing here is like doing a fast flat stage in the Tour de France. The sister car driven by team-mates Fredrik Ekblom (S)/Dirk Muller (D) claimed third place at Sears Point.
"On paper, at least, we shouldn't be able to exploit the strengths of the M3 in Portland to the same degree as at Sears Point," comments Team Manager Charly Lamm. The BMW with its V8 powerplant prefers to be challenged by braking manoeuvres and tight corners. "This race will be an important measure of where we actually stand in terms of our development," continues Lamm. "I hope we can follow up our successful debut in the crucial stage of the ALMS."
The crucial stage spells six races over the next two and a half months, spread across the whole of North America.The Team will be more or less living on the road and out of suitcases. Work will be carried out in the paddocks as there is too little time to search for proper facilities.
Portland could also serve as a new point of reference for the two tyre manufacturers Michelin and Yokohama, one of whom is supplying the two cars of Team BMW Motorsport and the other the BMW Team PTG cars backed by BMW North America. Manning the wheel in the latter team are Hans-Joachim Stuck (D)/Boris Said (USA) and Bill Auberlen (USA)/NiclasJonsson (S).
At 3.165 kilometres (1.967 miles), Portland is the shortest of the nine American race tracks used in the ALMS. The race marks the fourth event in the series. In addition, Team BMW Motorsport has appeared in two races in the European Le Mans Series: at Donington and Jarama. A poorer result in America can be replaced with the better of the two European results. For Team BMW Motorsport this is a clear-cut case: at Donington they didn't score, while Jarama brought them a one-two victory with Ekblom/Muller in first place.
For these two drivers in particular, the option of swapping results is particularly important because the racing duo did not appear at the season's opening event in Texas.
Taking replaced results into account, the championship rankings in the GT class at this stage, with six races to come, are as follows: <pre> Driver Marque Points 1. Sascha Maassen Porsche 81 2. Lucas Luhr Porsche 80 3. Jorg Muller BMW 71 4. JJ Lehto BMW 70 5. Randy Pobst Porsche 68 Christian Menzel Porsche 68 7. Boris Said BMW 62 Hans-Joachim Stuck BMW 62 9. Dirk Muller BMW 57 10. Fredrik Ekblom BMW 56 </pre> All the drivers of Team BMW Motorsport are familiar with the Portland circuit. Fredrik Ekblom has contested an IMSA race there, while his partner Dirk Muller, the reigning title holder in the GT category, claimed a class victory there in 1999. Lehto and Jorg Muller came overall second last year at the wheel of the open-topped BMW V12 LMR prototype.
"Portland isn't particularly challenging," says Jorg Muller, "But I still like driving there. In general, I prefer road courses to the ovals the Americans are so fond of. The critical overtaking point in Portland is at the end of the wide start/finish straight. In the chicane before the start/finish line you have to take the kerb to be fast."
The race takes place on Sunday, 5 August 2001, from 1.00-3.45 pm local time.
Live information and radio reports are available on the Internet at www.americanlemans.com.
NBC Sports will be broadcasting the event live.
Eurosport will broadcast a 60-minute summary on Sunday, 12 August, from 8.15 to 9.15 pm CET.