The ALMS wrapped up its 2005 season in grand style at picturesque Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, with a field
stengthened by the addition of several prototypes in the LMP1 and LMP2 classes, and the two car Aston Martin team in
GT1. The newcomers came out on top in the prototype classes, with the awesomely quick Zytek of Shimoda and Chilton
winning LMP1, and the equally impressive Porsche RS Spyder(pictured), driven by Luhr and Maassen, winning in its debut
race in LMP2.
The LMP1 Audi R8 of Pirro and Biela took the checkered flag in second place, finishing the season with another Audi trifecta - driver's, team and manufacturer's championships. In LMP2, the Intersport Lola struggled with mechanical problems, but logged enough laps to lock up the team championship and the driver's championship for Clint Field.
Much more after the jump.
The ALMS GT1 race was a barn-burner, with the Aston Martins, Corvettes, Maserati and Saleen dueling nose to tail
through the opening hours of the race. The Corvette of Beretta and Gavin took the lead from Aston Martin with less than
an hour to go, winning both the race and the driver?s, team and constructor?s championships.
The GT2 race went down to the wire, with the Porsche of Long and Bergmeister finally gaining the lead with less than 10 minutes remaining, when the leading Panoz pitted for fuel. The Porsche team also took home the driver?s and team championships for the season.
SPEED World Challenge: SWC joined the ALMS at Laguna Seca for the final race of the season. ?Mad Max? Papis won the GT race for Cadillac, with Andy Pilgrim?s 4th place finish giving Cadillac its first championship. In the Touring Car race, Angelone?s Audi made good use of its AWD to dominate the race on a slippery track, with Cunningham?s second place Acura winning the championship.
NASCAR: This weekend NASCAR management got a chance to show how it would handle a U.S. Grand Prix-style tire problem, and the results weren?t pretty. A little history recap will set the stage? Back in May, the Cup race at Lowes Motor Speedway was plagued with tire failures and crashes. With a second race scheduled at LMS scheduled for October, Goodyear scheduled no tire tests at the track after the first race, and brought the same-spec tires this weekend that it ran in May. Meanwhile, the track owner had the bumpy surface ground down. At least two Cup cars driven by Chase contenders were wrecked in September test sessions on the new track surface.
That brings us to this weekend. Friday night?s Busch race saw many caution flags and two red flags, with numerous cars crashing due to unexpected tire failures. Goodyear blamed right rear tire failures on the high downforce Busch car rear spoilers, combined with higher speeds on the smoother track. Lower downforce Cup cars were predicted to be OK. On to Saturday night?
Despite mounting evidence that the tires Goodyear brought to Charlotte (tires that were marginal, at best, in May?s race) were not up to the higher speeds of the new track surface, NASCAR rolled the dice and started the race for the prime-time TV audience. Bad move. Tires started failing right away, sending car after car into the wall, and leading to a record number of caution periods and a red flag stop to clean up accumulated crash debris. The longest green flag run was thirty laps, apparently the limit for tires, even with many drivers taking it easy to try and save their tires and their cars. The massive structure of the Cup cars, and the SAFER barriers, fortunately ensured that no-one was seriously hurt, but the race was a joke. Chase for the Cup points leader Tony Stewart, when asked by his team late in the race if he needed anything to make his car better, radioed back ?I need a renewal of my life insurance policy, to tell you the truth. I just can?t wait for this thing to be over so I can get out of here and hopefully not be hurt.? He later wrecked while leading when a tire let go.
Jimmie Johnson eventually won, putting him in a tie with Tony Stewart for the points lead with 5 races remaining in The Chase.
Formula 1: Driver?s champion Fernando Alonso won for Renault ahead of McLaren-Mercedes? Kimi Raikkonen, giving Renault a well-deserved constructor?s championship. An early safety car period torpedoed Raikkonen?s one-stop fuel strategy, and he was never able to mount a serious challenge.
Indy Racing League: Andretti-Green driver Dario Franchitti won at California Speedway, ahead of AGR team-mate Tony Kanaan. Fellow AGR driver Dan Wheldon had already locked up the series championship.
MotoGP: Judging by reader?s comments, we?re not alone in thinking MotoGP is one of the most entertaining forms of motorsports around, regardless of the number of wheels per vehicle, and this weekend?s race didn?t disappoint. 2005 champion Valentino Rossi notched his 11th win of the season at the Australian GP this weekend, ahead of young American Nicky Hayden. The win gave Yamaha the constructor?s championship.