Marrying
This is going to be quite a week for one member of the dsc team; on Friday (October 16), Deputy Ed. Graham Goodwin is marrying his long-time sweetheart Trudie – in Cyprus. That means a trip to the far end of the Mediterranean for the Ed. and David Lord (chief wedding photographer this week), departure on Wednesday afternoon.

Systems are in place to update the site from afar, but an even greater time difference between California and dsc’s (temporary) base will unfortunately mean a delay (typically until the following morning) posting Tom Kjos’s reports from Laguna Seca, plus images from Gary Horrocks, Regis Lefebure and James Davies.

It’s a one-off event (well, actually two-off) for Graham Goodwin – but we don’t expect a third. So please bear with us as we celebrate Graham and Trudie’s nuptials, and try to bring you all the significant news and race coverage too.

Thanks for the kind messages from those of who know of the impending event. We’ll pass them on.

Qualifying
Editorials have been few and far between this summer – although hopefully you’ll agree that there’s been no shortage of news and race coverage here, during this frantic 2004 season.

As a European-based site, we’ve welcomed the arrival of the LMES as the most significant new series on this continent since… the BPR? We’re anticipating that the 2005 LMES will begin at Spa on May 8 (not confirmed yet), and we’re expecting to throw ourselves headlong into coverage of the four (or five?) 2005 events. But we’d like to see one, simple change to the event schedule next year.

Qualifying needs to follow the American format, doesn’t it? For fans who arrive a day early, there should, we believe, be a short, 20 minute qualifying session, to set grid positions.

It was Russell Wittenberg who pointed out that it was worth being at Petit Le Mans this year just to see the prototype qualifying session. Ironically, the series that had the format spot on, was prepared to try a change this year – a refinement that James Weaver hated.

When Weaver crossed the line just before the chequered flag fell to end qualifying at Road Atlanta, we all knew he had one last chance to take the pole. John Hindhaugh was at his riotous best, as Weaver and the Dyson Lola went for it. It was high drama, whether he made it or not. Fans could see the #16 right on the limit, and all heard Hindhaugh announce the pole as he crossed the line.

15 or 20 minutes are enough, with the field more or less spit into two. With GT and GTS cars having already completed their qualifying, obstructions are more or less eliminated for the LMP1s and LMP2s, while the GT and GTS cars have their moment of glory separately.

If it goes wrong for one or two entries (mechanical trouble, or a spin) – well, that adds to the drama in the early laps of the race.

In the FIA GT Championship, the N-GTs and GTs could be kept separate, and unlike the GA format, it should be the fastest drivers in each car going for a time, shouldn’t it? Why should the qualifying driver have to start? Why take the likes of Andy Wallace and Max Angelelli out of the qualifying session drama?

So come on Europe, let’s have a US-style, qualifying day show. Everything beforehand can be called free practice, with no one under pressure to set a hot lap, surrounded by 30 or 40 other cars, from two or four classes. Then perhaps we won’t hear “traffic” as the reason for a car not setting a representative time.

Le Mans itself can probably afford to be different, around such a long lap: there’s plenty of drama either side of the interval between each pair of qualifying sessions, during each evening of timed practice.

Now, what’s ‘Jimmy’ Weaver going to get up to in qualifying at Laguna Seca? Or Nic Minassian? Or JJ Lehto?
Malcolm Cracknell

 

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