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ALMS – Portland Grand Prix - Paddock Poop 2
Some Odds and Ends from the Bear’s Notebook

dailysportscar.comThe Woods of North America – Murphy here again, sooner than planned. But there was so much heard at Portland and afterwards that I just had to share. I have to tell you that ole Murphy was pretty excited that his first column was published at Portland. The Bear tippled a bit of Chardonnay – settling for a plastic cup – after the race.

Is there another prototype project we haven’t heard of? Well Murphy has, but the Bear admits that, in the words of his source, “it’s purely exploratory, a discussion I’m going to have with someone who has a composites company…I’m not going to have a press conference in a Hawaiian shirt or anything like that.”

A team owner told the Bear that he’s considering his options for next year, but that certain financial considerations will largely determine the team’s return. An associate said about the same owner however, “he’s happier now than I’ve seen him any other year (that he has raced); this is what he likes to do.” The bear also is sure that should this team return, it will be with a different car.

The Porsche outing at Estoril was better – and worse – than I’ve seen reported. Better, as in better than 1:28 – you’ve probably heard 1:30, but that’s expectation management from Stuttgart, I think. But it wasn’t all roses, either. It seems even Porsche has to remember to tighten all the bolts. There are drivers employed by Porsche AG (AG means corporation in Germany, doesn’t it? I’ll have to ask Heidi – she’s from Bearvaria, you know) who are getting real excited about this, and we aren’t referring to the three already selected to drive this year. Some are doing a better job of managing their expectations than others. There’s no doubt there are going to be some hurt feelings; it’s going to be a long time before there are enough of the new prototypes to go around. But if it’s that quick, won’t it be racing at the very front of the field?

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The Bear’s friend Gary had a talk with Alex Job at Portland, look for that article on dailysportscar soon. You might remember an interview (also on dailysportscar, of course) a couple of years ago, when Alex expressed a desire to go prototype racing. The Bear thinks he’ll get that wish in 2007. The Bear also thinks that Alex will not have to compete against Penske Racing then – but thinks that Dave Maraj and Rob Dyson will.

There was a crowd, including Porsche folk (Jörg Bergmeister, Timo Bernhard, Pat Long, to name just a few) admiring a demonstration copy of the 2006 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. Heidi got a couple of shots. The Bear worries about that nose; it appears radical even allowing for the fact that the GT3 Cup and various “R” models are far more so than street versions. Porschephiles have been known to riot over smaller changes to the venerable 911. But then we did survive water cooling didn’t we, and now a V8 (in the back of the new Cayman), too. Did you notice the language in dailysportscar’s report on the new Cup class rules from Stephane Ratel for next year’s FIA-GT? It was clear that Porsche wasn’t real excited about the prospect. And why should they be? Those rules are clearly aimed at breaking Porsche’s stranglehold on the class, and the wizards of Weissach think they know a thing or two about Cup cars.

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Is this “performance adjustment” thing getting out of hand? The Bear heard there might be yet another change for Maserati in the offing. Murphy has another idea. Put the thing on the “Willman Diet”. That saved the Autocon Riley & Scott twenty kilos – for some of its stints.

Heidi’s pretty upset about Piers Masarati and ‘Mabeline’ (Lisa) in Los Vegas. “Another cute one off the market,” she says. Who’s next, Ashley Judd’s brother-in-law?

How far do you take “intramural” competition? Frank Biela said after Portland, “I tried to talk to Marco after (the race), but he wouldn’t talk.” Frank also apologized for the widely televised “digit”, about which partner Emanuele Pirro asked innocently, “Doesn’t that mean ‘Hello, how are you?’ in German? Jykri Jarvilehto, who has no small amount of competitive fire himself, took it all in stride, spending a few minutes with Pirro’s boys while the wrecked R8 was still being pushed and pulled into the Champion paddock. Emanuele is taking advantage of the three week break before Road America to take a cross-country family vacation, over the Rockies and through to Wisconsin. When he called it “a relaxing break,” we asked how relaxed he was likely to arrive after two thousand miles with two small boys in the back seat? “They’re good boys,” he answered with a grin that struck the Bear as more hopeful than committed.

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They were pretty happy at Pacific Coast Motorsports after their C5-R got its first podium finish at Portland. But before the race they were pretty unhappy, feeling that they needed more help to be competitive. The Bear was told they hadn’t put the V8 on a dyno to map the engine to the new restrictor, though. Don’t you have to do those kinds of things to compete in this series?

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The “powers” finally recognized what the Bear could see from day one. The Mazda wasn’t going to make it with the power available. So it’s got a new engine builder and a new restrictor. Actually, no restrictor at all, according to the opinion of some, since it’s so big. Straight to Spencer in Atlanta “to get done whatever we can get done before Road America”. The Bear is hopeful that the difference will be apparent on the track. Poor old Dennis Spencer was frightened off when he tried a Mazda in his B2K/40 long ago – having received no help then.

The Bear’s friends, Jeannie and Tom, are going to have Tom’s daughter Heather and boyfriend Bryce with them at Road America, then his daughter Courtney and husband Dave at Mosport (it’s their first wedding anniversary on the 4th, so they’ll be around on Saturday, then ditch the race for a trip to Niagara Falls on Sunday. The Bear thinks that’s good – there are more important things than this racing stuff). Anyway, say hello to them around the paddock.

Meanwhile, who says that sportscar racing is too expensive? Duncan Dayton cleaned up with three wins at the Grand Prix Historique De Pau in his “brace of Brabhams”, as MotorSport put it. Those included a BT11, a BT33, and a BT35. An heir to the Dayton’s (now US retailer Target Corporation) fortune, Duncan has disappeared from the ALMS, but it clearly isn’t due to a lack of funds. The Bear suspects the cash behind a “brace of Brabhams” would keep one nicely in a competitive seat, thank you very much.

That’s all the Bear has for now – or is willing to write about, anyway. I’m on my way to Road America in about a week. No telling what we’ll turn up there, right?

Murphy H. Bear

 

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