Track record shattered in lightning-quick qualifying

They broke the track record so many times at Mosport International Raceway yesterday that they almost lost count.

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They broke the track record so many times at Mosport International Raceway yesterday that they almost lost count.

When the dust had settled and qualifying was over for today’s Grand Prix of Mosport for cars of the American Le Mans Series, Italy’s Dindo Capello sat on the pole in his Prototype 1 Audi R10 diesel with a time of one minute 04.094 seconds (which translates into a speed of 138.116 miles per hour).

Capello’s time shattered the record he set almost exactly a year ago of 1:05.829 (134.476 m.p.h.), also in the Audi R10.

Second fastest of the 28 cars was the other Audi team car driven by Germany’s Lucas Luhr (1:04:188; 137.914 m.p.h.) while last year’s overall race winner, France’s Romain Dumas drove his Prototype 2 Porsche RS Spyder to third place with a time of 1:04:318 (137.635 m.p.h.).

Speeds in the unlimited Prototype classes were so much quicker this year than last that 10 cars in total broke the old track record.

Slowest of the record-breaking cars was the Prototype 2 Porsche RS Spyder driven by the U.K.’s Guy Smith, who ripped around Mosport’s 10-turn, 2.459-mile road course in 1:05:429 (135.298 m.p.h.).

During a press conference after qualifying, both Capello and Dumas said improved engine performance and tire development contributed to the lightning-quick speeds.

Dumas felt they will continue to increase but at a slower rate.

“I heard that in 1977, the lap record for Formula 1 cars was one minute, 13 seconds,” he said. “That was 30 years ago and it has taken us this long to get to where we are today. So we will get faster but … ”

American Le Mans Series races, such as the Mosport Grand Prix, feature cars in four classes – two manufacturer-supported Prototype classes and two Production classes for showroom-type cars.

In longer endurance races, such as the 12 Hours of Sebring, the driving chores are shared by as many as three drivers. In shorter “sprint” races, such as today’s, two drivers race each car.

Capello, for instance, will share his Audi with ex-F1 driver Emanuele Pirro of Rome. Luhr’s partner is Swiss driver Marco Werner.

Dumas, who won this race a year ago with Germany’s Timo Bernhard, is teamed with him again.

Fastest of the GT1 class cars yesterday was the Corvette raced by Johnny O’Connell of Flowery Branch, Fla. (1:13:878; 119.825 m.p.h.).

Pole-winner for the GT2 class was a Ferrari driven by Brazil’s Jamie Melo (1:16:863; 115.171 m.p.h.).

One driver missing in action yesterday was Toronto’s Tony Burgess. His racing partner, Chris McMurry of Phoenix, took their P1 Lola out for practice and an axle broke.

A replacement was being flown in last night from the U.K. and Burgess said he expects repairs to be made in time for today’s race.

Meantime, Burgess was blown away by the large number of tents erected around Mosport, not to mention parked cars and crowds of people.

“This reminds me of the old Can-Am days,” he said. “The crowd is tremendous.”

Today’s schedule, which gets underway at 8:30 a.m., will feature four support races as well as the Grand Prix – a two-hour, 45-minute event.

The 31 entered cars (and their 62 drivers) will get the green flag sharp at 3:05 p.m.

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