By Glenn Butt
(BOWMANVILLE, ON - August 30, 2005) The world's hottest sports cars are coming to Mosport International Raceway, September 2, 3 & 4, 2005, for round eight of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) - the only Canadian stop in this prestigious championship.
Featuring many of the teams and drivers who compete in the world-famous 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Labour Day Grand Prix of Mosport will see four classes of sports cars battling on the 4-km road course for overall race and class wins during the two hour and forty-five minute race on Sunday, Sept. 4.
The SPEED World Challenge GT and Touring Series, Star Mazda Series, Honda/Michelin Challenge and Ontario Touring GT Championship are also part of this Labour Day Weekend schedule.
Mosport has been a fixture on the ALMS schedule since the formation of the series in 1999 and featured one of the closest finishes in the history (.148 second seconds in 2000). The ALMS field will include the fast and exotic P1 and P2 prototypes, with the defending Series and 2005 24 Hours of Le Mans champs, the Audi R8s, setting the benchmark in P1 with an all-star driver line-up that includes former F1 driver JJ Lehto. The Dyson Lola's always give Audi a run here at Mosport and based on their performance so far this season, there's no reason to expect any less from the two-car team this weekend.
P2 cars are smaller, lighter prototypes, with slightly less horsepower then the P1 cars, but could factor in the outcome of the podium nonetheless.
The remaining two classes are the production-based cars of GT1 and GT2. In GT1, Canada's own Ron Fellows and teammates will be back with their C6-R Corvettes to face-off against rivals Saleen, Viper and series newcomer Maserati. Porsche 911 GT3 RSR's make up most of the GT2 grid, but they have not dominated, as the Panoz team has found the top step of the podium with their Esperante GTLM.
In the SPEED World Challenge GT race, Fellows has been added to Cadillac's impressive driver line-up. One of his teammates in the race, Max Papis, returns to Mosport for the first time since his days behind the wheel of a Ferrari 333SP prototype in 199X (insert proper year). In the SPEED World Challenge Touring division the competition is equally tough with manufacturers such as BMW, Acura, Subaru and Mercedes-Benz filling the grid. The GT race is Saturday at 4:00 pm with the Touring class running Sunday morning at 11:15 am.
In the open-wheel Star Mazda series, home-track favourites, AIM Autosport, are fresh off a win at Road America last week and bring their two Canadian drivers - James Hinchcliffe and Brandon Thomas - to Mosport. Hinchcliffe's Road America win gives him a share of second place in the points chase and he's co-leader in the rookie-of-the-year battle. The team's third regular driver, Mark Wilkins, will miss the Mosport round due to a non-racing injury.
The names Andretti and Rahal will make a return to Mosport, but this time they belong to a new generation of rising stars. Marco Andretti, Michael's son and Graham Rahal, Bobby's son are both top competitors in the series. With an expected entry of more than 30 cars, this could be anybody's race, which is scheduled to start on Saturday at 12:35 pm.
The Honda Series and Ontario Touring GT championship complete this impressive schedule of racing at the Labour Day Weekend Grand Prix of Mosport.
The weekend of racing begins with the Ontario Touring GT practice, Friday, Sept. 2 at 8:30 am. The ALMS race wraps-up the weekend's schedule with a 3:00 pm start Sunday, Sept. 4.
Mosport is located 100 km east of Toronto, north of Highway 401 at Bowmanville. Exit at Durham 57 (Exit 431) North to Regional Road 20, East. The Labour Day Weekend Grand Prix of Mosport will be live on SPEED Channel beginning at 3:00 p.m. (EDT). The race will be broadcast live by the American Le Mans Series Radio Web online at http://www.americanlemans.com/.
A weekend Superticket is only $60 until Wednesday, August 31 ($75 after) and children 12 and under are free (when accompanied by an adult with paid admission). The ticket includes grounds admission, parking, paddock access and Saturday night stock car races. Camping is available for $25 (per car up to six people) until August 31 and will be $30 after. RV's are $50.00 per unit. Tickets can be ordered by calling the Mosport International Raceway ticket office at 1-800-866-1072, on-line at http://www.mosport.com/ or by calling Ticketmaster.