Thursday, October 15, 2009

Laguna Seca Donnybrook

Whale fortunately SPEED decided to show the 4hr American Le Mans Series finale from Monterey, CA in its entirety a day after the fact and thus, I sat down and watched the entire show mid day Sunday, and what a race it turned out to be for the overall victory and the GT2 class win, as both were mighty scrums between the various combatants…

Yet, it was even cooler getting to see (briefly( that not only had Jim Hall been coaxed into attending the race, but he brought along a pair of his legendary Chaparral’s for exhibition duty, to which SPEED’s Dorsey Schroeder said the crowds went completely “Banana’s” (wild!) over seeing on track… Not to mention the brief interview with Hall saying how he was looking forward to being out on the track with Gil… As this was Gil De Ferran’s final race and thus as I said before, it was a nice touch on Gil’s part to honour the man who gave him his very first Indy Car ride some 14yrs ago, behind the wheel of a Hall VDS Racing Pennzoil yellow Reynard 95 Mercedes Benz, (Ilmor) where he won his very first CART race at Laguna Seca enroute to the Rookie of the Year title.

Paul Gentilozzi’s Rocketsports Racing made their Jaguar XKR GT2’s chassis full race outing as a development test as the team looks to make a full season campaign in 2010, while I’m wondering if perhaps this car is simply a dusted off Trans Am racecar since Gentilozzi should have plenty of them laying around his shop from the days of SCCA Pro Racing competition.

The No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911GT3 RSR competing in the hotly contested GT2 category was busy developing Falken racing rubber as a new contender in the series and the team had driven 11hrs to retrieve a better suited set of tyres “Just-in-Time” for the race…

The No. 16 Dyson Racing Le Mans P2 (Prototype class) Mazda Lola B09 86 once again was racing as an Unclassified entry (UNC) as it continued it’s test program involving running upon Bio-Butanol in conjunction with team sponsor BP (British Petroleum) and engine partner Mazda, which the team made its Butanol debut at this year’s Petit Le Mans, as the series fourth fuel source: Diesel, E85 Ethanol, Pump-grade Petrol and now Bio- Butanol, which the team hopes to use in series Points competition next year, while in my previous story Is Corn King? I noted how BP is an ardent supporter of Butanol in the future, especially as an alternative to the media darling Ethanol, as interestingly Butanol has better properties then Ethanol as shown in an cross country exercise way back in ’05, albeit most likely to be a Petroleum Corporations byproduct, but I digress…

Thus, back to the racing action, as fittingly De Ferran captured the Pole position for Saturday’s race, with his main competitors for the overall victory being Championship rival Highcroft Racing, along with Fernandez Racing’s LMP2 Acura being the dark horse.

Simon Pagenaud led from Pole and simply motored away from the 32 car field, comprised of four different classes, as Championship leaders Highcroft simply needed to complete 70% race distance to secure the title and thus David Brabham took it very easy, albeit suffering with an electrical gremlin relating to the gearbox shifting selector, which the team disconnected and thus Brabham and co-driver Scott Sharp needed to be informed of which gear they were in when pitting as their dashboard no longer displayed this pertinent information…

Meanwhile the No. 48 Corsa Motorsports Hybrid P1 challenger argubably put in its best performance by running as high as third place overall, before finishing fourth, after having to replace its electric motor earlier that morning, while Brabham and Sharp would cruise home to a third place finish.

But the race was an epic battle between old CART competitors De Ferran and Adrian Fernandez in the final thirty minutes, as Fernandez doggedly chased Gil as close as a scant 0.4 seconds adrift thru traffic, even passing De Ferran, only to be out powered on the front straight, as Fernandez said; Gil’s a great racer and he never made a mistake… As the pair would finish 1-2 respectively with De Ferran 0.6 seconds ahead at the stripe!

Yet the real fireworks were being contested in the GT2 class between the No. 45 Flying Lizard’s Jorg “Rowdy” Bergmeister and the No. 3 Corvette with Jan “Trickle” Magnussen behind the keyboard, as “MAG’s” (Magnussen) relentlessly hounded Bergmeister for the class victory, putting an unbelievable “Out-of-Bounds” pass upon the German for the lead, by using the pit lane’s entrance as a passing zone, which the Officials told the Dane to give the position back, before the two combatants did a ‘lil Racin’ is Rubbin’ action on their way towards the Corkscrew… Then in the final corner Magnussen did his best Cole Trickle impersonation, trying to loosen up Jorg with a luv-tap, but Bergmeister was having none of it, as he basically ran MAG’s into the front straight wall, which the Dane then T-Boned as Bergmeister held onto the GT2 victory with Jan’s crumpled Corvette runner-up… As Jorg said he was still shaking in the Post-race interview… As both drivers have now received a two race probation for the beginning of the 2010 ALMS season, with any further incidents to result in a two race suspension...

And next year should be even better with the American Le Mans Series new four class structure, which I’ll delve into later…
(And now they’ve moved the Laguna Seca race to May… SHEISA!)

2009 Laguna Seca ALMS Class Entries:P1: 6; P2: 4*; GT2: 14; GT3-CS: 8#.
(* = #16 Dyson Racing UNC race car.)
(# = Two competitors excluded from results for rules infractions.)

Laguna Seca Race Results

No comments:

Post a Comment