Written by: John Dagys
Date: 07/18/2012 – 10:50 AM
While the name may be new, don’t be fooled as it’s the same historic 10-turn, 2.459-mile circuit, considered by many to be one of the most challenging and unforgiving circuits in North America.
“For sheer speed, Mosport is one of my favorite tracks,” said Corvette Racing’s Jan Magnussen. “It’s such a fantastic feeling when you do a fast lap, because you know there is a big, big penalty for making a mistake.”
Magnussen and Corvette Racing have generally had good luck during their annual North of the Border trip, with the rapid Dane, who recently celebrated his 100th career ALMS start, having earned five class victories at Mosport, including Corvette’s maiden win in the unified GT category in 2009.
Both Magnussen and co-driver Antonio Garcia, who makes his first start at Mosport, along with the GT class points-leading No. 4 machine of Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin will be looking to give Corvette its tenth class victory at the famed Canadian circuit this weekend.
That may not be an easy task, despite the factory Pratt Miller squad maintaining its 1-2 lead in the title race. With BMW, Ferrari and most recent winners Porsche knocking on the door, the highly competitive GT category is likely to be the race to watch on Sunday.
BMW Team RLL’s Joey Hand and Dirk Muller, who trail championship leaders Milner and Gavin by 12 points, still sit third in the standings, despite an incident-filled race at Lime Rock that was salvaged with a fifth place result.
While BMW may have lost some ground last time out, that’s not the case for Flying Lizard Motorsports duo Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long, who have momentum on their side on the heels of their first class victory of the season.
The revised 2012-spec wide body Porsche 911 GT3 RSR could impress again, not only in the hands of the Lizards but also Team Falken Tire’s Wolf Henzler and Bryan Sellers, who came off an unlucky run at Lime Rock due to an early race tire puncture.
Both of the Extreme Speed Motorsports Ferrari F458 Italias also shouldn’t be counted out, following breakout performances by both of the Prancing Horses two weeks ago. It, however, ended in heartbreak for the No. 02 machine of Guy Cosmo, who was taken out by a PC-class car while battling for a podium position.
Of note, Andy Lally returns to ALMS action this weekend, filling in for Porsche factory driver Marco Holzer in the No. 44 Flying Lizard entry, who is on International GT Open duty in Paul Ricard.
The story in the fight for overall honors is a little more straightforward, with Muscle Milk Pickett Racing searching for its third consecutive Mosport victory with a third different P1-class car.
Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr were undoubtedly the heroes from Lime Rock, as they rebounded from a four-lap deficit from an early race ECU problem to give their HPD ARX-03a its third consecutive victory of the season.
While aided by misfortune for the rival No. 16 Dyson Racing Lola B12/60 Mazda of Chris Dyson and Guy Smith, which was forced to make an unscheduled stop for a puncture, along with a beneficial safety car period that put Graf back on the lead lap, luck appears to have played into Muscle Milk’s side so far this year.
“I have to say I really like the track and the last two years have been very good for Muscle Milk Pickett Racing with back to back wins,” Graf said. “We take a lot of confidence from our recent race wins. The hard fought battle at Lime Rock will especially have us heading into the race weekend in good spirits.”
As was the case at Lime Rock, Dyson will again field its second Lola B11/66 Mazda this weekend, but with Toronto resident, and ALMS veteran, Tony Burgess joining Eric Lux this time in the grandfathered P1 entry.
With Dempsey Racing’s Lola B12/80 Judd not making the trip to Canada and Project Libra still missing in action, up to three cars could take the green in the P2 class this weekend.
Level 5 Motorsports is coming off its fourth class victory of the season in what was undoubtedly Scott Tucker’s drive of his life at Lime Rock, which saw the team owner hold off the hard-charging Conquest Endurance Morgan-Nissan of Martin Plowman for the win, and third place overall finish.
Revised drive time rules, with gentlemen racers such as Tucker and Plowman’s co-driver David Heinemeier Hansson now required to complete a minimum of 60 minutes, shook up the strategy and made for one of the most entertaining races seen in P2 for ages.
But it also backfired in the case of Level 5, which was forced to park its second HPD ARX-03b due to the change that would have made it next-to-impossible for Tucker to complete the minimum requirement and not have his co-driver go over the maximum drive time of 2 hours and 15 minutes.
The regulation has been adjusted for this weekend, with the minimum time remaining unchanged, but a new 2-hour and 30-minute maximum, which should enable Level 5 to run its No. 95 entry of Tucker and Luis Diaz this weekend without any threat of exclusion.
CORE autosport, meanwhile, continues to have a stranglehold in Prototype Challenge, with Lime Rock winners Jon Bennett and Colin Braun closing to within three points of teammate Alex Popow.
Popow will share his No. 06 Oreca FLM09 with Ryan Dalziel this weekend, while another Scot in Marino Franchitti makes his class debut with PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports, CORE’s closest competitor.
With the stepped up effort from PR1, the battle for top class honors is expected to be hard-fought, especially considering the five other competitors that will also be searching for its first victory of the season.
Quality over quantity is the theme in GTC this weekend, with the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars from TRG, Green Hornet and JDX all capable of taking on the championship-leading Alex Job Racing entry of Cooper MacNeil and Leh Keen, who searches for back-to-back wins after their Lime Rock triumph.
In all, 29 entries are expected to the green flag on Sunday at 12 p.m. ET. A two-hour Promoter Test Day kicks off ALMS activities on Friday, followed by official practice and qualifying on Saturday.
John Dagys is SPEED.com’s Sportscar Racing Reporter, focusing on all major domestic and international championships. You can follow him on Twitter @johndagys or email him at email@example.com