It may be known as the Rose City Grand Prix, but this weekend's eighth round of the Le Mans Series will not be a bed or roses for the series stars. Run on the same circuit as the CART World Series for Champ cars, the Portland circuit offers ...
It may be known as the Rose City Grand Prix, but this weekend's eighth round of the Le Mans Series will not be a bed or roses for the series stars.
Run on the same circuit as the CART World Series for Champ cars, the Portland circuit offers limited passing opportunities.
For the prototype stars battling through the traffic, one wrong move could mean the difference between success and failure.
Series leader Jorg Muller is keen to pull out a strong result after seeing his points lead getting smaller after recent rounds.
"As a result of the large speed differences between the classes, everybody has to be extremely careful," Muller said.
"Seeing and being seen, is really important in ALMS."
Aussie hero David Brabham took victory at Portland last year and he is keen to try to stop the barnstorming Audi attack on the U.S. races.
Brabham will return to qualifying duties this weekend after team-mate Jan Magnussen took that responsibility in the past two rounds.
"The track didn't inspire me when I went there for the first time last year but the more I drove it the more I liked it," Brabham said.
"It's a challenging place because to set a really good lap time you've got to get everything absolutely right.
"Our car has been running well in recent races though and our Elan Products engines have been very strong and reliable so we have every reason to be optimistic."
After racing in searing temperatures in Texas, the Le Mans teams are keen to enjoy cooler conditions in Portland.
"Portland is a race track we all like to go to. It's a beautiful facility, a really smooth track and it will be wonderful to be racing in more manageable temperatures again," Panoz driver Johnny O'Connell said.
"The only downside to Portland is that it's very difficult to pass there - not just for the Prototypes but even for the slower traffic as well.
"It's tight round most of the track and there's very little room to get past so you've got to grasp every overtaking opportunity that is offered to you with both hands."
After taking victory in Texas, Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro are keen to continue their strong run for Audi.
"This track is very interesting but it's not easy," Emanuele Pirro said.
"Most decisive is the long snaking combination of corners that tolerates different lines.
"I'm convinced that only one line can be really fast. It's undoubtedly an advantage to be familiar with this circuit."
The prototype field has been boosted by the return of Cadillac this weekend with Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor aboard one of the U.S. cars.
After being defeated last weekend at Texas for the first time in the championship, the ORECA Dodge Viper GTS squad will have an easier time at Portland with Corvette not entered for this weekend's round.
The GTS drivers will also have an easier weekend without having to worry about the soaring temperatures inside the cars.
Unlike the prototype cars, the roof on the GTS machines traps in the heat, making driving conditions even tougher.
In the GT division, the Alex Job Racing Porsche GT3-R of Bruno Lambert and Randy Pobst will be gunning for their third race victory in a row.
The Dick Barbour Racing lead car of Dirk Muller and Lucas Luhr will be looking to break back into the winner's circuit after dominating the early part of the season.
Race fans can tune into a live race commentary of the event via Radio Le Mans at http://www.americanlemans.com/pages/00live/index.html
The Portland race will be staged Sunday and kicks off at 4.30am Adelaide time on Monday, September 11.
Le Mans style racing features three different classes competing in the one race, Prototypes (Panoz, Audi, BMW, Cadillac), GTS (Dodge Viper, Corvette, Porsche) and the production based GT class (BMW and Porsche)
The Adelaide event will be an outstanding New Year's Eve party with planning underway on fashion parades, food and wine exhibitions, street parties, fireworks displays, on-track entertainment and a spectacular after-race concert celebration.
PROTOTYPE POINTS AFTER ROUND SEVEN: Jorg Muller (BMW) 163, JJ Lehto (BMW) 160, Alan McNish (Audi) 150, Frank Biela (Audi) 149, Rinaldo Capello (Audi) 145, Emanuele Pirro (Audi) 147, Jan Magnussen (Panoz) 142, David Brabham (Panoz) 128, Bill Auberlen (BMW) 115, Jean-Marc Gounon (BMW) 107.
2000 Le Mans Series
Adelaide's Race of a Thousand Years - December 31, 2000