Guy Smith tops Thursday ALMS test session
Smith’s quick lap was 2.437 seconds clear of Chris McMurry in Autocon’s AER-Lola. McMurry entered a lap time of 1:57.569 (123.951 mph) in the LMP1 prototype he will share with Tony Burgess and Michael Lewis – who will make his final start in a prototype this weekend. Steven Kane was third quickest in LMP1 with a lap of 2:04.736 (116.829 mph). He will share driving duties with Humaid Al Masaood on Saturday. Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing did not participate in the test session.
Luis Diaz topped the LMP2 category for Level 5 Motorsports, which makes its return to ALMS competition. Diaz turned a 1:59.356 (122.095 mph) in the Lola-Honda he shares with Scott Tucker and Christophe Bouchut.
A pair of Ferraris topped the GT times led by Risi Competizione. Jaime Melo clocked a 2:06.984 (114.761 mph) in the Ferrari F458 Italia he shares with Toni Vilander. Melo was 0.425 seconds ahead of the Ferrari F458 Italia of Guy Cosmo, who set the fastest GT race lap at Mid-Ohio two weeks ago. The Extreme Speed Motorsports driver entered a 2:07.409 (114.378 mph) and will share driving duties with Ed Brown on Saturday. Mosport GT winner Corvette Racing was third fastest as Jan Magnussen turned a 2:07.760 (114.064 mph) in the Corvette C6.R he shares with Oliver Gavin.
Current category point leader CORE autosport led the way in LMPC. Gunnar Jeannette and teammate Frankie Montecalvo were separated by 0.297 seconds. Jeannette, who will drive the No. 06 ORECA FLM09 with Ricardo Gonzalez, turned a 2:00.063 (121.376 mph) in testing. Before making a trip to the Turn 9 gravel, Montecalvo entered a 2:00.360 (121.077 mph). The placement of the car necessitated a red flag on the session, but damage to the No. 05 ORECA FLM09 Montecalvo shares with Jon Bennett was minimal. Third-quickest in LMPC was Rudy Junco, who turned a 2:00.528 (120.908 mph) in PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ ORECA LMP09 which he will share with Butch Leitzinger on Saturday.
Defending GTC race-winner Black Swan Racing picked up where it left off and set the fastest GTC time of the session. Jeroen Bleekemolen turned a 2:14.161 (108.622 mph) and will share the No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup with team owner Tim Pappas. Sean Edwards was second quickest in NGT Motorsports’ No. 30 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Edwards clocked a 2:14.602 (108.266 mph) and will share driving duties with Carlos Kauffmann and Henrique Cisneros this weekend. Third fastest was The Racer’s Group and Dion von Moltke, who turned a 2:15.366 (107.655 mph). Von Moltke is teamed with Emilio Di Guida in the No. 68 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
The first official practice of the Road America weekend is scheduled for Friday at 9:20 a.m. (CT). Qualifying beings at 3:10 p.m.
There may not be a driver in the paddock at Road America this weekend that will see more track time than Scott Tucker. Level 5 Motorsports’ owner and driver will race in three series during the Time Warner Cable Road Race Showcase, including Saturday’s four-hour race for the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patr¢n.
Tucker will drive Level 5’s Lola-Honda in LMP2 with Christophe Bouchut and Luis Diaz in the ALMS race. He also is piloting a Lites 2 entry for Level 5 in the Cooper Tire Prototype Lites championship and a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup for Kelly Moss Motorsports in the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama. The latter two series each have two races on the weekend – one on both Friday and Saturday.
“We always wanted to do this race with Level 5’s headquarters based in Madison (Wis.),” Tucker said. “It’s definitely a different sensation going from the LMP2 car to the GT3 Porsche and then the Prototype Lites car. Surprisingly there are a lot of similarities during a lap in each of the cars. The biggest difference is the mid-corner braking. It’s much heavier in the Porsche, of course.”
Diaz set the fastest lap in the Lola-Honda on Thursday at 1:59.356 (122.095 mph)
LEWIS’ LAST RIDE: Autocon Motorsports’ owner Michael Lewis said this weekend will be his last in a prototype. Lewis is set to pilot Autocon’s isobutanol-powered Lola-AER with Chris McMurry and Tony Burgess. Thursday was the first time Lewis sat in the Lola since last year’s Le Mans 24 Hours.
“The opportunity to drive the car for the last time at a place like Road America is ideal,” Lewis said. “This is such a great track and a real pleasure to drive. I hadn’t driven the car since Le Mans and it showed a little bit. But it’ll get better as the weekend goes on.”
Ironically, McMurry said the same thing after the 2009 ALMS finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. But Lewis said he doesn’t think he’ll follow his friend and teammate back behind the wheel of an LMP car. He does plan to continue competing in periodic SCCA events.
“It’s just a joy to drive something like this that feels so good and tightly put together,” Lewis said. “This Lola is the best one I’ve driven. But I think the car I’m most attached to is the Riley & Scott. We raced it for the first time in the ALMS at Sebring in 2004, and it was the first time I had been in an LMP car. I was just comfortable right away. I take a lot of pride in that – our small privateer team getting among the factory cars at the finish.”
McMurry set the second-fastest lap Thursday at 1:57.569 (123.951 mph).
DOM’S RETURN: This weekend’s race marks Dominik Farnbacher’s return to ALMS competition with the new Porsche Napleton Racing effort. The young German will drive a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup with David Heinemeier-Hansson – a race-winner in the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama in 2010.
Farnbacher got all the work in Thursday’s test session. His best lap was a 2:17.863 (105.705 mph).
“It was definitely different than driving a GT car,” said Farnbacher, who was third in GT2 at Road America in 2008 and posted the fastest lap in class. “It’s a slower car so I spent more time looking in my mirror than usual. The Yokohama tires are different than being on Michelins. Really everything is new to me – including the team. There is a lot of learning between all of us. But it is definitely good to be back and I’m glad I have the opportunity to race again at Road America.”
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