A Mosport weekend that began with heavy rains ended in another Audi victory for Alan McNish and Rinaldo Capella in the LMP1 class. The result gave the team the 2006 Championship title, regardless of how they fare in the last two races in the LeMans series. Their win over Dyson Racing's duo of Chris Dyson and Guy Smith at the wheel of their new Lola B06/10 was hard fought with frequent lead changes.
The Audi crew contributed greatly with good pit strategy, and as always, luck played a major part in the outcome. Since four classes of cars are racing on the track simultaneously it is important for the slower cars to pay attention to the faster cars coming up from behind and let them pass as quickly as possible. The race marshals wave a blue flag at the slower cars to help with this procedure. It was tremendously exciting to watch the fast prototypes weave through the slower traffic at 140 mph, trying to reach a corner first.
During the battle of Guy Smith's #20 Lola and McNish's #2 Audi the Lola set the fastest race laps three times - yet this was still not enough to catch the Audi for the win. Dyson Racing's other entry, the #16 Lola driven by James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger placed third, and the #1 Audi R10 of Emanuele Pirro and Frank Biela came in 4th, a lap behind the winners.
The result leaves the Audi R10 diesel prototypes with a perfect unbeaten record for 2006. It should also be noted that the race organizers allowed the Dyson Lolas to run 65 kilograms lighter than the Audis and were also allowed a fuel tank that was 5 litres larger — this no doubt in an attempt to equalize the performance of the main rivals.
In the LMP2 class the two brand new Penske Porsche RS Spyders swept the field. The only other competitor in that class was a Lola B05 40 AER car driven by Liz Halliday and Clint Field which suffered a fire in the pits and ended up in 19th place over all. The Lola B05 dominated the LMP2 class before the new Porsches.
In the LMGT1 class the day belonged to the Aston Martin DBR9s, with a win (#009, Sarrazin/Lamy and third place (#007), Enge/Knox). Their parade was split by the Gavin/Beretta Corvette C6-R which took 2nd, a full lap behind the winner. #007 experienced problems when Peter Kox spun the car in turn 10 just before the front straightaway. Canada's Ron Fellows had to suffer a stop and go penalty fro what was deemed an avoidable contact with #007, which effectively ended his quest for a decent finish. Fellows ended up 10th.
The Ferrari 430 GT Berlinetta (Mowlen/Orletti) took the LMPGT2 class.
Canadians Scott Maxwell and John Brabham of Toronto, driving a Multimatic prepared Panoz Esperante GTLM car, ran off the course after being bumped by Chris McMurray's LMP1 Lola. Damage to both cars was severe and forced them to retire after 20 minutes of racing. Maxwell commented: "the contact was avoidable. During the first 5 laps the slowest P1 was running into people. What else can I say?"
Note: The starting position for the race was not determined by qualifying but by combining the two practice session times due to the extremely wet and unsafe track conditions in the prescribed time slot.
Motorsport: Grand Prix of Mosport, September 1-3