Fifty cars took part in the test, and despite a number of spins, only one car suffered serious damage, the No. 39 LMP2 Chamberlain-Synergy Motorsport Lola/AER of Angel Burgueno/Miguel Angel De Castro/Miguel Amaral, which crashed hard at Tertre Rouge with Burgueno behind the wheel to bring out a red flag. The only other red flag of the day occurred when the No. 77 Panoz blew an engine early in the day with Milner at the wheel.
Of course, the test times must be taken with a grain of salt, as some teams are running as hard as they can while others are not. They’ll be playing for keepsies when qualifying rolls around on June 14th.
ACO 24 Hours of Le Mans Test Day Top Five:
1) Franck Montagny/Eric Helary, No. 17 LMP1 Pescarolo Sport Pescarolo C60/Judd, 3:30.195
2) Allan McNish/Tom Kristensen/Rinaldo Capello, No. 7 LMP1 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R10, -1.895sec
3) Emmanuel Collard/Christophe Bouchut/Erik Comas, No. 16 LMP1 Pescarolo Sport Pescarolo C60/Judd, -2.010sec
4) Marco Werner/Frank Biela/Emannuele Pirro, No. 8 LMP1 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R10, -2.965sec
5) Jean-Marc Gounon/Shinji Nakano/Haruki Kurosawa, No. 13 LMP1 Courage Competition Courage LC70/Mugen, -3.316sec
Grand-Am: Bergmeister/Said Win Watkins Glen
Krohn Racing’s No. 76 Ford/Riley overcame a number of obstacles both on and off (see Racing News and Notes) the track to win a rain-soaked six-hour enduro at Watkins Glen on Saturday.
After legal issues prevented the team’s regular driver, 17-year-old Colin Braun, from competing in the race, veteran Boris Said was drafted to partner Jorg Bergmeister. The duo used a compromise wet-dry setup to good advantage, and posted a 3.495sec margin of victory over the No. 99 Blackhawk Racing Pontiac/Riley of Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty. Fogarty and Gurney led 45 of the 154 laps, the most of any team, and were leading when they pitted for the final time with 21 laps remaining. Bergmeister, who drove the first and last stints for the No. 76 Krohn entry, inherited the lead and was able to hold on through two late-race caution periods to record the team’s first win since last September at Phoenix International Raceway.
In post-race inspection, the No. 76 Krohn Ford/Riley was found to be too low in ride height, and the team was fined $2,000 but allowed to keep the win and the points, putting the cap on an emotional roller-coaster of a weekend.
The No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac/Riley of Wayne Taylor/Max Angelelli/Ryan Briscoe finished third, just .15sec behind second place, with the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Lexus/Riley of Oswaldo Negri Jr./Mark Patterson and the No. 4 Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac/Crawford of Andy Wallace/Butch Leitzinger completing the top five.
In the GT class, the No. 72 Tafel Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup of Wolf Henzler and Robin Liddell were victorious with a 19th-overall finish, claiming the class honors and their second win of the season ahead of the No. 36 TPC Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup of Randy Pobst/Ian Bass. The No. 64 TRG Pontiac GTO.R of Paul Edwards and Kelly Collins was third in class.
The series will be back in action at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in three weeks.
Grand-Am Rolex Series Top Five:
1) Jorg Bergmeister/Boris Said, No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford/Riley, 154 laps
2) Alex Gurney/Jon Fogarty, No. 99 Blackhawk Racing Pontiac/Riley, -3.495sec
3) Wayne Taylor/Max Angelelli/Ryan Briscoe, No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac/Riley, -3.640sec
4) Oswaldo Negri Jr./Mark Patterson, No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Lexus/Riley, -16.369sec
5) Andy Wallace/Butch Leitzinger, No. 4 Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac/Crawford, -36.899sec
WRC: Gronholm Strikes Back in Acropolis Rally
Two-time (2002 and 2002) World Rally Champion Marcus Gronholm snapped defending champion Sebastien Loeb’s run of five straight wins with a dominating performance in the Acropolis Rally this past weekend. Gronholm took control on Friday’s first stage in his works Ford Focus and led the remainder of the event, helped by difficulties encountered by Loeb and Petter Solberg on the rough gravel roads.
Loeb and Solberg stayed in contention through Saturday afternoon, but a puncture on Loeb’s Kronos Racing Citroen Xsara on the final stage of the second leg and an accident with a civilian car going the wrong way on the road for Solberg just prior to Saturday’s final leg put Gronholm out of reach.
Gronholm drove conservatively on Sunday to get to the finish, and took the checkered flag 2:26.8 ahead of Loeb. Gronholm’s teammate Mikka Hirvonen took third, ahead of Toni Gardemeister’s privateer Citroen and Petter’s brother Henning Solberg in a privateer Citroen. Petter Solberg was the fastest driver on Sunday, but could only manage a seventh-place finish in his works Subaru Impreza.
The win for Solberg diminished the gap to Loeb in the points to 29, and Hirvonen’s third place vaulted him to fourth place in the standings.
The series takes a two-month break now as the new split-season schedule prepares to take effect, and will be back in action for the Rally of Germany over the weekend of August 11-13.
WRC Acropolis Rally Top Five:
1) Marcus Gronholm/Timo Rautiainen, No. 3 Focus RS WRC 06, 3h56:26.8
2) Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena, No. 1 Kronos Citroen Xsara WRC, -2:26.8
3) Mikka Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen, No. 4 Ford Focus RS WRC 06, -3:43.8
4) Toni Gardemeister/Jakke Honkanen, No. 16 Astra Racing Citroen Xsara, -4:20.8
5) Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud No. 8 OMV Peugeot 307 WRC, -4:55.6
Driver’s Championship: 1) Sebastien Loeb, 74; 2) Marcus Gronholm, 45; 3) Daniel Sordo, 33; 4) Mikko Hirvonen, 21; 5) Petter Solberg, 20.
Baja 500: The 38th Baja 500 took place this past weekend, traversing a challenging, dust-filled 424.29-mile loop through Baja California starting and ending in Ensenada, Mexico. A total of 222 survivors out of a record field of 438 starters made it to finish line within the 18-hour limit, led by the No. 12 Collins Motorsports Chevy Silverado Trophy Truck of Larry Ragland and Brian Collins, who clocked in at 9h36:49 at an average of 44.13 mph. Alan Pflueger drove solo in his No. 28 Pflueger Racing Chevy Silverado Trophy Truck to finish second overall, 7:16 behind Collins/Ragland. Third overall was Josh Baldwin in the No. 86 Baldwin Racing Ford F-150 Trophy Truck. Troy Herbst and Larry Roeseler finished fourth overall in the Terrible Herbst Motorsports Ford-powered Smithbuilt Class 1 open-wheel desert race car. B.J. Baldwin finished fifth in his No. 97 Chevy Silverado Trophy Truck. Trophy Trucks took seven of the top eight positions. An estimated 200,000 spectators lined the course to watch the event.