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ALMS – Road America 500 – Friday Report
Audis One & Two
© Tom Kjos
Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, USA – Seventy degree (F) temperatures under high thin clouds greeted American Le Mans Series teams at Friday’s test session at the classic Road America circuit.

The prototypes were first to take to the track, and we got our first look at Miracle Motorsport’s Courage C65/AER turbo. John Macaluso was overseeing the action and we asked him why acquire the slightly used Silverstone chassis rather than a new one. “This chassis was the only one already set up for the AER engine, and we knew we wanted to get here to Road America with the new car – we knew the Nissan wasn’t going to get the job done here,” said John. “There just wouldn’t be time to get the AER into one of the new chassis, all of which were set up for that other engine – the JPX.”

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The new car’s 2:05 was five seconds better than the Nissan powered Lola B2K/40 was able to manage in the session. The other LMP2 competitors welcomed the new Miracle entry. “We like John – he’s a competitor. He wants to run at the front,” said Jeff Bucknum of Team Bucknum. “Unfortunately, we’re the ones who will not be very competitive here.” Further on, Clint Field was supportive, but thinks the new combination will only be marginally faster than the previous Lola-Nissan, and wondered whether the AER would be competitive. Robin Liddell set fast lap as the Intersport B2K/40-Judd, which continued to be the car to beat on the track here at Road America. As yet there is no partner for Mike Borkowski in Miracle’s #11 Lola-Nissan (the former #10 car), so we are uncertain whether it will start. If not, the team risks the “non-finish” result that could turn the LMP2 championship back into a race.

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Elsewhere along the pit lane, Champion Racing was using the opportunity to work with its 2004 Le Mans chassis, #2, having recently announced their intention to enter the car along with the #38 at Laguna Seca. Johnny Herbert, along with the ubiquitous TBA, will probably pilot the car in the last race on the American Le Mans calendar. As was the case at the Le Mans R8’s last outing at Infineon, the additional driver seat time is also a help. Given a slow starting Dyson Racing, Champion’s drivers (JJ Lehto in the #38 and Marco Werner in the #2) topped the session’s time sheet. JJ’s 1:53.770 was 1.6 seconds off Tom Kristensen’s 2002 record; that may not last the weekend.

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It wasn’t the best of starts for the Mosport winning, Dyson Racing Team. Both Lola B01/60 - AERs managed to come in from the circuit on the hook. The first with that ignominious return was the #20 in the hands of Andy Wallace.

dailysportscar.comAndy, who’s fond of cheap shots on the subject of James Weaver’s advancing age, may well have exposed himself to some of the same in return. “Andy’s back out,” said Chris Dyson from the team’s pit before taking over the driving duties, “we think Andy switched off the fuel pumps when he meant to switch in a new fuel map.” In the case of the #16 car, James Weaver brought it in with a “loose fuel return connection” according to co-driver Butch Leitzinger. That ostensibly repaired, the car returned to the track, only to be retired to the paddock a short time later. “An installation problem,” is all we could get from team spokesman (and new Lime Rock General Manager) Steve Potter. Chris Dyson and Andy Wallace managed a third-best time, while James was well down the sheet before giving it up. He and Butch Leitzinger are seen in conversation with Peter Weston, above.

Duncan Dayton returns to partner Jon Field in Intersport’s LMP1 Lola B01/60 – Judd, and the two grabbed the fourth spot with a 1:58.245 clocking.
The two Corvettes dominated testing (surprise!) in GTS, there being little indication that ACEMCO’s Saleen S7R has closed the gap; the latter’s best was 2:04.116, two seconds off the class best #4 Corvette of Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta.

In GT, Alex Job Racing set fast time, the #23 car’s 2:09.190 just a smidgeon short of Lucas Luhr’s track record set last season. J3 Racing was just a bit adrift of the Job cars in the best showing since Lime Rock for the Jackson-Sugden Porsche 911 GT3-RSR, and perhaps the Ford modular V8 is liking this power track (as we thought it might) – the Panoz Esperante posted a 2:10.887 – fourth best. The Yankees, who came back against Twin’s closer Joe Nathan in the bottom of the ninth inning last night to avoid a sweep, had a better day than the Yankees Entertainment and Sports (YES) Network-sponsored BAM! Porsche team, which stopped on course twenty-five minutes into the session. The engine will be replaced, and the car will be ready for practice and qualifying tomorrow. “…early on it was under-powered and it seemed lit it took a long time to build up power as I was coming up the gears,” said Leo Hindery. We weren’t able to get his view of the recent baseball series, a 2-1 road loss for the New York club.

We’ll probably only have twenty-two starters on Sunday, but we anticipate a real battle in three of the four classes now, with LMP2 joining the fray. Only GTS looks like little more than an intramural event.

 

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