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Mosport: ALMS Friday notebook
Bryce Miller definitely feels that Mosport International Raceway owes his team more than a bit of good luck. It was a savage crash late in last year’s Mobil 1 presents the Grand Prix of Mosport that caused a lengthy red flag and an eventual finish under the yellow flag after teammate Luke Hines collided with a prototype on the fastest section of the track while leading the GT Challenge class.

Miller and Sascha Maassen will drive Paul Miller Racing’s Yokohama-shod Porsche 911 GT3 RSR in a highly competitive GT class of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patr¢n. The duo are coming off a season-best sixth place finish two weeks ago at Lime Rock Park.

“That was a really, really big one. We’re trying to shake the shadow from it,” Miller said Friday of the 2010 accident. “We’re making good progress. We’re learning a lot about all of our compounds – the consistencies  and starting tire pressures. Driving (the 911 GT3 RSR vs. the 911 GT3 Cup) is definitely different. It’s not so much faster in every corner but there are certain sections where it is drastically different. It can be hard to break those old habits from the GTC car.”

AUTOCON’S RETURN: This week marks Autocon Motorsports’ return to the ALMS’ LMP1 ranks. Tony Burgess and Chris McMurry will share the refreshed Lola B06/10-AER, which finished Friday’s test session fourth in class. It’s the first race action for the car since Petit Le Mans at the end of 2010.

“It has taken awhile to get back but we are definitely glad to be here,” the Toronto driver said. “The updates from Lola were mostly mechanical. At Lola, we found some errors in the front suspension and a loose steering rack. Now it is really like a new car.”

Burgess and Johnny Mowlem were third in class at Mosport last year. The chassis adjustments combined with improvements to the AER engine and tire selection gives Burgess hope for a return to the podium.

“This is very different than Miller Motorsports Park (where the team tested earlier this month),” he said. “You really have to build up your corner speeds because it is all about momentum. Of course this is the kind of track the Lola was designed for. There’s really no other track in North America that has these long, fast corners.”

PANOZ, TOO: Friday also saw the radical Panoz Abruzzi ‘Spirit of Le Mans’ back on track in the ALMS. Team Panoz debuted the car at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida in March and underwent a massive amount of development and testing since then.

“Things are going very well. Today was the first time out on the track in awhile,” said Ian James, who will drive with newcomer Edward Sandström. “We’ve been out and running recently but not with other cars. So it took some slight adjusting. Pretty much everything has been improved – electronics, aero and many other systems. So we have repeatable data for setup and that definitely helps as we go along.”

The car is running unclassified this weekend.

KANE A QUICK LEARNER: Steven Kane wasted little time getting up to speed at Mosport on Friday. The British pilot ended Friday’s session second overall at 1:11.423 (123.943 mph) in Oryx Dyson Racing’s Lola-Mazda that he is driving with Humaid Al Masaood.

“It’s a lot of high-speed corners, bumps and cambers – so it’s a different challenge for us than Lime Rock,” said Kane, racing in just his second American Le Mans Series race. “We haven’t driven the car on a track this fast before. I had heard so much about this track and finally getting out here is fantastic. But you can’t take your guard down. You can’t take the wrong line into one of the corners or you’ll be into the wall pretty hard.”

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