Capello leads record-breaking day at Mosport
Audi swept the front row with its two diesel-powered Audi R10 TDIs. Marco Werner was just 0.094 seconds behind his teammate as Audi asserted itself for the first time on the weekend. The top five cars qualified within 0.525 seconds of each other.
“It looks like I have a special feeling with this race track,” said Capello, who has won overall three times in five career Mosport starts and now has three pole positions there. “Canada always seem to bring me good luck. When Audi wanted to bring me back and said I could race again at Mosport, I was very happy. It was nice to be back and show that we are still quite good.”
Capello, who won in LMP1 at Mosport last year with Allan McNish, is driving with Emanuele Pirro. Werner is teaming with fellow P1 championship leader Lucas Luhr with the duo looking for their third straight overall Series victory.
Penske Racing’s Romain Dumas was third overall and first in LMP2 at 1:04.318 (137.635 mph), also a class record.
The previous fastest speed recorded in Series history came two weeks ago when Luhr averaged 136.277 mph in qualifying at Road America. On Saturday, the top five drivers recorded average speeds quicker than that.
“You really feel like you are on the edge here,” Capello said. “It is very difficult to say to a driver and engineer that a car should be slower. A 1:04 means we aren’t just fast on the straight but also in the corners. If something were to happen, it can be very big. At some tracks, safety hasn’t changed over the years but the cars have. But I am not talking about Mosport. In Europe we really miss this kind of elevation change and the fast corners. We drivers are crazy but not too crazy that we don’t think about safety.”
Penske teammates Dumas and Timo Bernhard are the defending overall race winners. Dumas looked like he had the overall pole wrapped up late in the session before Capello and Werner threw down their laps.
Dumas maintained that the first order of business was to take the class pole position. Doing so will put himself and Bernhard in the best position to extend the P2 championship lead they enjoy over Patr¢n Highcroft Racing’s David Brabham and Scott Sharp.
“It was a great qualifying session for sure,” said Dumas, who won his 16th Series pole. “It’s very, very, very quick year after year. I improved nearly 1.7 seconds and we push the limit all the time. Again, the class is important and I’m very happy that we are at the head of P2.”
Dumas was 0.285 seconds better than Brabham’s Acura ARX-01b. The Porsche duo have a 24-point lead over Brabham and Sharp with four rounds remaining. Dumas and Bernhard have won four times this year compared to three times for Brabham and Sharp.
The battle isn’t just limited to the fastest two cars. Franck Montagny put Andretti Green Racing’s Acura third on the P2 grid and fifth overall at 1:04.619 (136.994 mph).
“In the last few races it has been a very big battle with many teams,” said Dumas, who has been driving the RS Spyder with a new direct fuel injection engine since Mid-Ohio in July. “We have a lot of cars to watch for. It’s good to be at the front especially with a quick car. We had a chance to test here earlier this week and we found a very good setup. It’s all the time a big battle to improve in every area.”
“I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a pretty crappy qualifier so I’m pretty stoked,” O’Connell said. “Olivier is so good and anytime you outperform him is a good thing. The bigger story to me is how hard the guys on the No. 4 car worked to get that car ready to go this afternoon. I didn’t think it would be that close.”
O’Connell is a five-time winner at Mosport. He won in class last year with Jan Magnussen in the C6.R, nine years after they teamed for an overall victory in a factory Panoz prototype. With just two pole positions entering the season, O’Connell has doubled his total this season.
He and Magnussen enter Mosport with a 23-point championship lead.
“It’s a lot of fun here. This is a magical racetrack,” O’Connell said. “I think there are a lot of tracks that all the guys like coming to, and this is one of them. You have a lot of moments here. We brush our brakes nearly all the way around except for Turn 5. The rest are at 20 percent because you want to maintain your momentum.”
Terry Borcheller qualified third in class for Bell Motorsports with a lap of 1:15.611 in the team’s Aston Martin DBR9.
“We’ve been working so hard to improve the lap times from last year,” said Melo, who captured his 11th career Series pole. “Earlier this week we tested and improved, especially in the high-speed corners. I’m happy with everything. The tires and car worked well together. I didn’t do a perfect lap time but it was enough for pole. I made a mistake at Turn 3 and lost maybe a tenth or more.”
He outpaced Farnbacher Loles Racing’s Dirk Werner and his Porsche 911 GT3 RSR by 0.19 seconds. Werner, part of the class-winning trio at Road America two weeks ago, is teaming with new teammate Pierre Kaffer. Dominik Farnbacher qualified Tafel Racing’s Ferrari third at 1:17.232
The top six cars in class all were under Melo’s time from last season. Speed hasn’t been an issue for the Risi duo this year. Melo and Salo are looking for their first victory in the Series after winning eight times last year and the class championship.
“For the race, the car should be good and consistent so we will see how things go,” said Melo, who won at Le Mans with Salo and Gianmaria Bruni. “We were on pole at Mid-Ohio as well. We’re still showing that we have the potential to finish on top here.”
The Mobil 1 presents the Grand Prix of Mosport is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 24 from Mosport International Raceway just outside of Toronto. The eighth round of the 2008 American Le Mans Series will be aired live on SPEED. XM Satellite Radio will air the race live on XM Channel 166. Live radio coverage also will be available from American Le Mans Radio at americanlemans.com, which also will feature IMSA’s Live Timing & Scoring.
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