ALMS: Klaus Graf takes Mosport pole in tightly bunched field

alms-race-mosport LAT PHOTOGRAPHIC
Klaus Graf put his Lola-Aston Martin race car on the pole for Sunday's American Le Mans Series race at Mosport.

Published on 7/23/2011

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Klaus Graf took his second straight overall pole position Saturday for the American Le Mans Series race at Mosport International Raceway in Bowmanville, Ontario, redeeming himself following a crash at the end of the first practice session.

Graf turned a lap of 1 minute, 8.679 seconds (128.895 mph) in the Lola-Aston Martin he will share with Lucas Luhr in Sunday's race.

Despite a run-in with the turn-nine tire wall in Saturday's morning practice, Graf and the Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing prototype coupe qualified 0.365 second ahead of Dyson Racing's Chris Dyson. The German is hoping this year's race ends just as last year's--pole position and a race victory. He drove a Porsche RS Spyder to a win in 2010 with Romain Dumas.

"We weren't so good friends this morning, me and the track," Graf said. "It bit me this morning. But I like the track, especially in the prototype cars. It's a 'big boy' track, and you need to be brave to drive really fast. You also need a really good setup. If not, you could lose confidence in the car and you just can't really push hard. That's normal for every track, but even more so for this track."

The top three cars qualified within 0.399 second of each other. After Dyson's effort in the Lola-Mazda coupe he is driving with Guy Smith, Steven Kane was third in the Oryx Dyson Racing Lola-Mazda at 1:09.078 (128.151 mph).

Graf and Luhr were overall winners in April at Long Beach, but the Dyson-Smith duo enters the weekend with the LMP1 championship lead and a win at Lime Rock Park two weeks ago.

"The morning incident created a lot of work for the Muscle Milk team but the pole is credit to them for working so hard and in the heat," said Graf, who set the fastest time in the prequalifying practice despite joining the session with only 10 minutes remaining. "It was mainly bodywork and some suspension--luckily no structure problems. But when you put it back together, there is a lot of work to see if you've set it up back together."

Dirk Mueller continued BMW Team RLL's season-long roll with the team's third straight GT pole position. He set a best lap of 1:17.083 (114.842 mph) in the BMW M3 GT that he will drive with Joey Hand. The pairing leads the class championship with three victories in three races.

Mueller was 0.059 second ahead of Bill Auberlen, who drives with Dirk Werner in the sister BMW M3 GT.

"I knew flying in to the track that we had a lot of momentum, and you just want to keep it flowing," Mueller said. "It doesn't matter who is in the car; we can be fast either way for setup. We need to concentrate now on finishing. Yes we've won three in a row, but we are just into the fourth round of the championship, so we need to stay focused keep getting points."

As has been the case all season, the qualifying session was extremely tight. The top six cars were within 0.497 second and top eight were only 0.914 second apart. Jörg Bergmeister was third in class at 1:17.312 (114.502 mph) for Flying Lizard Motorsports in the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR that he will drive with Patrick Long.

The Lizards are looking to repeat in class at Mosport, while BMW will go for its first victory at the circuit since 2001. Coincidentally, Mueller was the pole sitter that year in GT.

"They say its a ‘man's track' and I'm on pole, so I get to consider myself a man,” Mueller said, laughing. “The class is so close, and I'm happy we got everything together. I think I only got one lap together, and other times there were a few mistakes.”

Local talent Kyle Marcelli scored his first ALMS pole position with a record-breaking lap of 1:11.331 (124.103 mph) in LMP Challenge for Intersport Racing. The 20-year-old Barrie, Ontario, driver was 0.615 second clear of Core Autosport's Gunnar Jeannette. It also marks the first pole position for Intersport in the LMPC ranks in just its second race in the class.

Jon Field, driving the other Intersport entry, was third in class at 1:12.252 (122.521 mph). Intersport is the third different team to win an LMPC pole position this year.

“We were quick right off the truck, and have been fast all weekend long, and I got a good feel right out of the gates,” Marcelli said. “I do a lot of private coaching here with gentlemen with their (Porsche) GT3s or Corvettes, but it's different when you're riding coach in those (compared to) driving an LMPC car. The harder we're pushing these cars, the more you can find grip, which makes for a great experience.”

Maybe more than anyone in the paddock, Marcelli is aware how brutal this week's heat has been on competitors. Record-breaking temperatures have baked the area for about five days, and the air temperature exceeded 90 degrees Fahrenheit again Saturday. The track temperature registered near 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

“The open cockpit gives us a bit of advantage in the heat. In fact I think it's helping the tires,” Marcelli said. We only ran one set during testing; we put almost 300 miles on them. These LMPC cars are intricate in the way that there is only a small window. You can only make small changes within it. If you get outside of it, you're going to be lost to get back.”

Damien Faulkner won a tightly contested pole position in GT Challenge for Black Swan Racing. In his first appearance at Mosport, the Irishman posted a best lap of 1:22.861 (106.834 mph) to best TRG's Spencer Pumpelly by just 0.078 second. Faulkner will share Black Swan's Porsche 911 GT3 Cup with class championship leader Tim Pappas.

It is the first pole position in the series for Faulkner, who won with Pappas and Sebastiaan Bleekemolen at Sebring to open the season. The Faulkner/Pappas pairing placed third in class two weeks ago at Lime Rock. Qualifying was the first session this weekend in which the Black Swan entry was quickest in class.

“The success from yesterday to today is a secret,” Faulkner said. “Our engineer (Marc Feinstein) couldn't make the trip this weekend because his wife is having a baby. We've been talking a lot on the phone with him, and the team was great even in his absence. We were a little down on power, but we kept moving forward. Fortunately, every change we made, we kept getting faster. The team's working really hard, I was getting more familiar with the track and we were able to go faster.”

Nick Ham was third in class Saturday for JDX Racing at 1:23.448 (106.083 mph). Only 0.964 second separated the entire field. With such a tight window, Faulkner was thankful to get a little help from someone who knows how to get around Mosport--Audi Sport's Allan McNish, a three-time winner at the track.

“This is a real drivers' track. I'm pleased to be fast,” Faulkner said. “I'm not really into video games, and I've just got Allan to thank for his YouTube video that I watched a few times. It's a tough place, very tough, very challenging. A big thank you to Tim and the Black Swan team.”

The race is scheduled to start 3:05 p.m. Eastern on Sunday. ESPN2 will air the race starting at 10 p.m. Eastern. Live video coverage will be available at 2:50 p.m. Eastern on in the United States and for international viewers. Canadian fans may also watch live coverage on Rogers Sportsnet.


1. Lucas Luhr, Mülheim-Kärlich; Klaus Graf, Dornham, Germany; AMR/ Lola Coupe B08 62 (LMP1), 1:08.679, 128.895

2. Chris Dyson, Pleasant Valley, New York; Guy Smith, Bracken, Yorkshire U.K.; Lola B09 86/Mazda (LMP1), 1:09.044, 128.214

3. Steven Kane, Newtownards, Northern Ireland; Humaid Al Masaood, Abu Dhabi, UAE; Lola B09/86 Mazda (LMP1), 1:09.078, 128.151

4. Kyle Marcelli, Barrie, Ontario; Chapman Ducote, Miami Beach, Fla.; Oreca FLM09 (LMPC), 1:11.331, 124.103

5. Gunnar Jeannette, Salt Lake City, Utah; Ricardo Gonzalez, Monterrey, Mexico; Oreca FLM09 (LMPC), 1:11.946, 123.042

6. Jon Field, Dublin, Ohio; Ricardo Vera, Ponce, Puerto Rico; Oreca FLM09 (LMPC), 1:12.252, 122.521

7. Jon Bennett, Fort Mill, South Carolina; Frankie Montecalvo, Highlands, New Jersey; Oreca FLM09 (LMPC), 1:12.827, 121.554

8. Tony Burgess, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Chris McMurry, Phoenix, Ariz.; Lola B06/10 (LMP1), 1:12.839, 121.534

9. Anthony Nicolosi, Palm Beach, Fla.; Jarrett Boon, Phoenix, Ariz.; Oreca FLM09 (LMPC), 1:13.049, 121.184

10. Eric Lux, Jacksonville, Fla.; Christian Zugel, Holmdel, New Jersey; Oreca FLM09 (LMPC), 1:13.085, 121.125

11. Dirk Mueller, Burbach, Germany; Joey Hand, Sacramento, Calif.; BMW M3 GT (GT), 1:17.083, 114.842

12. Bill Auberlen, Redondo Beach, Calif.; Dirk Werner, Kissenbrück, Germany; BMW M3 GT (GT), 1:17.142, 114.755

13. Jörg Bergmeister, Langenfield, Germany; Patrick Long, Bellaire, Fla.; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GT), 1:17.312, 114.502

14. Scott Sharp, Jupiter, Fla.; Johannes van Overbeek, San Francisco, Calif.; Ferrari F458 Italia (GT), 1:17.511, 114.208

15. Jaime Melo, Cascavel, Brazil; Toni Vilander, Kankaanpaa, Finland; Ferrari F458 Italia (GT), 1:17.543, 114.161

16. Oliver Gavin, Yardley Hastings, U.K.; Jan Magnussen, Roskilde, Denmark; Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 (GT), 1:17.580, 114.107

17. Bryan Sellers, Braselton, Ga.; Wolf Henzler, Nürtingen, Germany; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GT), 1:17.964, 113.545

18. Olivier Beretta, Monte Carlo, Monaco; Tommy Milner, Leesburg, Va.; Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 (GT), 1:17.997, 113.497

19. David Murry, Atlanta, Ga.; Anthony Lazzaro, Atlanta, Ga.; Doran Ford GT (GT), 1:18.847, 112.273

20. Ian James, Phoenix, Ariz.; Edward Sandstrom, Orebro, Sweden; Panoz Abruzzi (UNC), 1:19.243, 111.712

21. P. J. Jones, Torrance, Calif.; Rocky Moran, Ladera Ranch, Calif.; Jaguar XKR (GT), 1:19.302, 111.629

22. Bryce Miller, Summit, New Jersey; Sascha Maassen, Lontzen, Germany; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GT), 1:20.377, 110.136

23. Ed Brown, Las Vegas, Nev.; Guy Cosmo, West Palm Beach, Fla.; Ferrari F458 Italia (GT), 1:21.051, 109.220

24. Bruno Junqueira, Belo Horizonte, Brazil; Kenny Wilden, Oakville, Ontario; Jaguar XKR (GT), 1:22.653, 107.103

25. Marco Holzer, Bobingen, Germany; Seth Neiman, San Francisco, Calif.; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GT), 1:22.693, 107.051

26. Tim Pappas, Boston, Mass.; Damien Faulkner, County Donegal, Ireland; Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (GTC), 1:22.861, 106.834

27. Spencer Pumpelly, Mason Neck, Va.; Duncan Ende, Los Angeles, Calif.; Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (GTC), 1:22.939, 106.734

28. Nick Ham, Evergreen, Colo.; Chris Cumming, Vancouver, BC; Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (GTC), 1:23.448, 106.083

29. Andrea Robertson, Ray, Mich.; David Robertson, Ray, Mich.; Doran Ford GT/Elan (GT), 1:23.530, 105.979

30. Bill Sweedler, Westport, Conn.; Brian Wong, Newport Beach, Calif.; Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (GTC), 1:23.787, 105.654

31. Dion von Moltke, Coral Gables, Fla.; Marc Bunting, Monkton, Md.; Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (GTC), 1:23.825, 105.606


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