The breezes had slowed, the few clouds in the blue skies were wispy, and it was mildly warm at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca when the American Le Mans Series Presented by Patron field took to the track late Thursday afternoon.
As the ALMS sessions were tests, the red flag was liberally used to move any car caught out mechanically or otherwise. One such car was CHRIS DYSON/Dyson Racing Team Lola B12/60 P1 – one of two cars in the class. He spun out on cold tires in the Corkscrew. Others included TRG’s No.66 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup in the GTC category which parked between Turns Five and Six – where a Lotus had gone off earlier. The session was Time Certain, so the clock ticked during the Red Flags.
The pits were quite busy during the two-hour session, so getting a clear photograph of pit lane cars was nigh on impossible. In some cases, the crew swarmed all over the pitting car that the car was almost covered.
I didn’t have time to much watch the Start-Finish radar sign. The fastest time I saw was 140 mph.
LUCAS LUHR/Muscle Milk Pickett Racing HPD ARX-03a was the fastest overall and in the P1 class. His time was 1:16.837. The next four cars were LUIS DIAZ/Level 5 Motorsports HPD ARX/03b P2; GUY SMITH/Dyson Racing Team Inc Lola B12/60 P1; CHRISTOPHE BOUCHET/Level 5 Motorsports HPD ARX-03b P2 and Dempsey Racing Lola B12/87 P2, after running as high as second overall.
Merchant Services ORECA FLM09 was sixth overall and first in the PC class.
Driver transponders weren’t mandatory for the test so it wasn’t always possible to know who was in the car at a given time.
The two yellow Corvettes dominated the GT session, swapping the lead back and forth. In the end it was OLIVER GAVIN in No.4 and JAN MAGNUSSEN second in class, fifteenth and sixteenth overall.
Green Hornet Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup was fastest in GTC, twenty-seventh overall.
ALMS has five categories, so there are races within races. Classes P1 and P2 are the purpose-built Prototype categories, an expensive category with fewer cars. Tires are open. GT is typically the largest class and this weekend is no exception – 12 cars. GT’s are production-based moderately modified sedans, similar to their showroom counterparts. Tires are open. PC is Prototype Challenge with all the cars being ORECA FLM09 prototypes, and they all run on Michelin tires. GT Challenge has three versions of the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, and they all run Yokohama tires.
After the session ended and the track was cold, an intrepid ESPN pit reporter rode a mini-trike from the Corkscrew all the way down to Turn Nine, feet stretched out in front of him. The set up with the camera crews and the Safety Crew from San Francisco Region SCCA took three times as long as the actual run. It’s expected the bit will be used during the race broadcast.