Friday test session at Road America passed by at record pace for several of weekend's entrants. Although Friday's times do not count for qualifying, and transponders are voluntary, four teams in GTS and GT lapped under the existing track ...
Friday test session at Road America passed by at record pace for several of weekend's entrants. Although Friday's times do not count for qualifying, and transponders are voluntary, four teams in GTS and GT lapped under the existing track record.
LMP 900 fast entrant Audi team Joest set overall fast time of the day at 1:54.298. Champion Audi ran second in class, and the #11 Panoz third. The second Panoz failed to set any time in practice
The big surprise of the day belonged to Intersport racing, who arrived with a Riley and Scott Mk3c, formerly owned by Jim Mathews, instead of their usual Lola. The car, finished in a menacing all black motif, failed to intimidate the on-track competition while running last in class.
Team owner Jon Field explained, "We just received the car two day ago. We had no engine, and the same gearing used at Le Mans." The team took delivery of two chassis and is currently using the same Elan motors as Panoz. Jon continued, "The old Lola was just all used up."
Driver Clint Field added "We just want to be more competitive. We're going to sit down, after today's practice, and figure out how to make this new car work."
Team Intersport, in contrast, was fastest in LMP 675 and second fastest overall with their newer Lola-MG. The team is still using a MG factory chassis while their own car is being repaired, in England, for damage sustained in a crash at Trois-Rivieres.
The two Dyson cars were second and third in class, with the #20 car a disappointing four seconds off the pace.
The GTS class this year has featured close competition between the Ferrari 550 and Chevrolet Corvette. Road America was expected to favor the high revving Ferrari, but fast time belonged to the #3 Corvette. The time of 2:03.421 was a cool four tenths under the existing lap record. Driver Johnny O'Connell insisted their fast time was not in response to Ferrari pressure: "We've been developing our car. Ron (Fellows) and I always drive every lap 100%. The car was just fast." O'Connell expects a tougher challenge from the Ferrari tomorrow, predicting "the Ferrari will probably be ahead in qualifying."
The fastest of the Ferraris was second in GTS, the #88 lapping at 2:04.449. Third in GTS was the #4 Corvette. The top five in GTS are separated by little more than two seconds. The close GTS competition continues at Road America.
Friday testing in GT class was one of the very rare sessions not led by an Alex Job Porsche. The #43 Orbit racing Porsche in the hands of Marc Lieb was quickest at 2:11.565, one of three cars under the old lap record. Alex Job racing did run second and third, in spite of a transmission failure in the #24. The fastest Ferrari 360 was fifth in class, only two seconds behind the Orbit leader.
The Road America entry list includes an encouraging 37 entrants. Their fast times today suggest a multitude of record breaking runs in tomorrows qualifying. The field includes the only three Lola-MGs currently competing and two of the mighty Audi R8s. These five cars all enter tomorrow with a shot at pole position. The only certainty, this being Road America, is that the cars will be very, very fast as the battle to lead the pack at Sunday's 500 mile event.