31 August 2009
Highcroft wins Mosport, Acura takes titles
Franchitti had led the race overall early in his stint, and the Lola-Mazda and Acura went back and forth in the last hour, battling through slower - and faster - traffic, but the victory - and championship - appeared in doubt after Fernandez was penalised for speeding in pit-lane.
“We knew that the Dyson car was very fast, and we couldn't stay with them,” team owner Fernandez admitted, “The traffic was the difference. With no traffic, I could stay kind of close. When the penalty happened, the first thing I did was try to regain my focus. We were 15 seconds back and, at that point, I didn't know what was going on with the Mazda, but we were catching them quite quickly. I think they turned the motor down a little bit until the point I was right behind him. Then I could start to smell burning and thought maybe something was wrong.”
Both the Dyson cars led the LMP2 class during the opening stint, with Chris Dyson pitting from the lead at the 48-minute mark, before crashing hard at turn one a couple of laps later. That put the focus on the remaining Dyson coupe and the Acura.
“For me, I think it was a matter of being patient,” Diaz said, “We know we can't fight against these guys in the first part. It's a matter of patience and having good pace. I have to thank Adrian because he is a great boss, a great team-mate and great friend. It has been a great three years with him and I think it is great that we have [achieved] this together.
"When I was growing up racing, he was my idol. Winning this championship with him means a lot to me and it means a lot to people in Mexico. We can compete against anybody. We have a great team all around.”
O'Connell and Magnussen scored a historic victory for Corvette Racing with the team's first success since converting the C6.R to GT2 spec. Magnussen crossed the line 0.331secs ahead of Risi Competizione's Pierre Kaffer, who teamed with Jaime Melo but began the race from the rear of the grid after the car missed qualifying Saturday.
The win at Mosport was the third straight for the O'Connell-Magnussen pairing, and the fourth in their careers. O'Connell won for the seventh time at the circuit, the most of any driver at any venue in the American Le Mans Series, as he made his 100th start.
“This was all about Jan and the crew guys,” the veteran insisted, “They had a great stop to just get him out ahead of the Ferrari and he did what he needed to do to keep us in front. It was just an awesome drive. Jan and I teamed together at Panoz to win here in 1999 - and we were teamed again a couple of years ago with Corvette - and that was the finest drives I've seen. Knowing what he needed to do and not make a mistake... it was great.”
The GT2 battle was the most hotly contested on the day, as BMW, Corvette and Ferrari each led, with the top four cars circling in a line for the better part of 20 minutes. Corvette's quick final pit-stop with slightly less than 30 minutes to go allowed Magnussen to return to the track just in front of Kaffer, who had pitted four minutes earlier. The two cars were side-by-side for one-third of the lap - and even touched going through the turn five hairpin - before Magnussen pulled ahead for good.
“On cold tyres, and as cool as it was, having a good out-lap was key,” Magnussen revealed, “I made it through turn two and kept him on the outside, and we did bump a little.
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