Championship “Zoom” at Laguna

September 15, 2011

Championship “Zoom” at Laguna

September 15, 2011

There are two kinds of teams at this weekend’s six-hour round of the American Le Mans Series at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca: Those that are in their respective championship fights, and those that are not.

With two races remaining, manufacturers, teams and drivers in the 2011 ALMS championship hunt have one eye on the race and the other on the championship. For the rest, there is nothing to lose – they will go all out for the wins.

Extra championship points are on the line here and at Petit Le Mans due to the longer race distances. Failing to finish can destroy a championship bid.

The 2011 ALMS season is already one to remember for Mazda. The feisty carmaker that makes efficiency its by-word is on track to claim a first-ever ALMS championship. The Dyson Racing Mazda team, with drivers Chris Dyson and Guy Smith, currently hold a 24-point lead in the LMP1 prototype duel. A pair of top three finishes will secure the titles.

The Muscle Milk Aston Martin team, with Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr, leads the victory parade with four wins to two, but an early exit at the season opener at Sebring put the Benicia, California, squad in a deep championship hole. They need victories in both races and hope that the Dyson squad encounters some trouble, easy enough to happen in a six-hour race here and the 10 Hour/1000-mile Petit Le Mans finale at Road Atlanta.

Dyson bolstered its championship bid by adding a second car with Humaid al Masaood and Steven Kane under the Oryx Dyson Mazda banner at the third race. The pair claimed the victory at Baltimore two weeks ago. Reinforcements for the Muscle Milk squad arrive in the form of Adrian Fernandez and the AMR Aston Martin team.

For Mazda and Dyson Racing, the only thing better than winning the ALMS manufacturer and team titles would be to lock them up at Mazda Raceway. A Muscle Milk win in its home state would keep the championship fight alive.

BMW Team RLL made a strong start in 2011, reeling off three consecutive GT class victories to open the season. Dirk Mueller and Joey Hand currently lead the drivers’ championship by 25 points over Corvette Racing’s drivers Oliver Gavin and Jan Magnussen. Risi Competizione Ferrari and Corvette Racing have one win each while the surprising Falken Porsche squad has a pair.

The closest championship is in the LMP Challenge class, where CORE autosport and Genoa Racing have two wins each and just two points separate them in the championship. CORE’s drivers Gunnar Jeannette and Ricardo Gonzalez hold a one-point lead over Genoa’s Eric Lux.

In the GTC class, Tim Pappas and Black Swan Racing have won two races in a row to lead both the driver and team championships over the TRG team and its drivers.

Latest Photos

Latest Video

A memorable IMSA season ended with the excitement of Motul Petit Le Mans

Wednesday October 18, 2023