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Sebastien Bourdais dominates Wednesday night qualifying

Le Mans, France – Sebastien Bourdais drove his Peugeot 908 HDi to the fastest lap of the Wednesday night qualifying session, posting the time of 3.19.711 followed closely in tow by his teammates in the remaining two factory Peugeots and the Team Oreca Matmut Privateer Peugeot 908 HDi . The first qualifying session was dry although wet weather has moved into Le Mans, and the track is currently wet with very light rain falling. The starting grid could very well be set as the remaining qualifying sessions are all scheduled to be wet. The second qualifying session is scheduled to start Thursday at 7:00 PM

CBS documentary of Monterey race spot on

The first turn at Mazda Laguna raceway provides action for the CBS presentation "Racing into the dark".

NORTH BEND, Wa -- I am not a big fan of delayed broadcast of events -- whether it is racing, football, or war -- but the CBS production Racing into Darkness is a spot-on glimpse into the psyche and persona of the American Le Mans Series as seen through the lenses of the InterSport production team and the hearts and souls of the drivers and crews of the race at Mazda Laguna Seca raceway last weekend. The production was a great job of story telling, something the InterSport production team has practiced for many years; they are the makers of the 2008 epic from Le Mans, The Truth in 24, and are perhaps better known for their work for NFL Films. The 90-minute show provided excellent insight into what it takes to both run a team on the ALMS series and to win the race -- a combination of pit work, race car management, and great driving. The story does an outstanding  job of showing action and reaction to that action with cutaways to the principal players in the pits -- the owners (such as Bobby Rayhal), Team managers,  crew members, and other drivers. The shot paints a picture of the myriad facets that go into running a race team at any level but specifically within the realms of the ALMS and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. A couple of great cutaways to people aspect of the event include a race official coming over the Bobby Rayhal during a heated moment in the race when Rayhal thought one of the competitors had fouled one of his team cars. The offical told Rayhal that they had reviewed the tap and did not see anything. Rayhal's response was "Oh that's bullbleep". Another great job of photography in the pits came when the fastest qualifying Mazda Lola expired  late in the race and the camera caught car owner Rob Dyson's disappointment at his team's loss. A third moment that was very telling is during a pit-stop by the eventual winner Patron Highcroft Acura team; the rules are relatively clear that the car can not be "touched for fueling or other activities" until after the tires are changed. One member of the crew starts to fuel the car before the tires are changed. It was a mental gaffe on his part and his actions bring the the wrath of the crew cheif. The ALMS officials decided that the actions did not constitute a true foul and do not penalize the team; the crew cheif chuckles and tells the crew member that he just got an early Christmas present. The race goes on. The combination of visual images and word pictures provided by the narration is well done. At one point in the show, with 20 minutes left and darkness beginning to set in, the cameras pan to a couple of fans who are keeping themselves in front of an enclosed fire and then mention that while fans are trying to keep themselves warm, drivers are trying to heat up their tires. While the end of the LMP class was a bit anticlimatic since both the Mazda and early race leading Porsche were both out of the race by the time the last 20 minutes rolled. The race for the checkers in the ultra competitive GT2 class was a different story and the InterSport cameras did a great job of showing this race from lap one until the decisive moment in the race when Patrick Long in the Flying Lizards Porsche passes Joey Hand on the Rayhal-Letterman BMW on one of the last restart of the race. Great camera work provides the reaction of the two teams to the race-winning move by Long along with the commentary of the ALMS radio crew. All-in-all it was a great piece of work that gave both race fans and those who were perhaps not as familiar with the sport a glimpse into the heart of ALMS racing. You can see snippets of the presentation at the ALMS site and hopefully it will be posted somewhere online for others to see at a later date.

Patron Highcroft Acura takes Monterey; its on to Le Mans!

SALINAS, California -- Starting from the last spot on the grid due to a technical rules violation during practice, the Patron Tequila Acura steadily reeled in the field until it was in a position to the race the pole sitting Mazda -- then it was a tit for tat race between the two teams in which either could have won -- until about a half hour was left in the race and the Mazda died on the track at turn four ending what could have been a classic finish to a classic race. The Mazda was quick while it was on the track, turning the fastest lap of the race with just 90 minutes left in the race, as top qualifier Guy Smith rounded the course in 1:14.396 seconds. Meanwhile in the GT2 class, as was expected, it was a race-long war between any numbers of brands of cars -- BMW, Porsche, Corvette, and Ferarri with all of them leading the class from time-to-time. In the end it was Patrick Long in the Flying Lizards Porsche 911 GT3 RSR that came home to the checkered flag in a battle that was not decided until the final lap. For example with two-and-a-half hours left in the race, Bill Auberlin at the wheel of the No. 92 BMW GT car was leading the race. But the top seven cars in the class were within eight seconds of the leader -- and while there was a little more separation at the end or the race it was still a back and forth battle.  At 6:48 Jan Magnussen wheeled the Corvette ZR1 into the lead as the No. 90 BMW made a pit stop that included a driver change. Eighteen minutes later it was Patrick Long in eventual winner moving into the first place position in the GT class with both of the Corvettes in second and third. With about 15 minutes left in the race the No. 92 BMW with Tommy Milner at the wheel went off the track and stopped at turn 4. At about the same time Long in the Flying Lizards Porsche got inside Joey Hand in the other BMW (No. 90) and out raced him to the line for the GT class lead. With 10 minutes left in the race he had but a .403 second lead over Hand. Long continued to push his lead and with about four minutes in the race had pushed his lead to nearly 1.5 seconds over hand and 2.2 seconds over the No. 4 Vette of Oliver Gavin. From there it was just hold on and stay out of trouble to the checkered flag. David Brabham, who was one of the drivers of the winning Peugeot car at Le Mans last year summed up the race for his team perfectly: "I can't say enough about the team today. It was an absolutely flawless demonstration of endurance racing. Everything went well on the track and we made no mistakes in the pits. My team mates performed perflectly. This is the way to head off to Le Mans with this momentum."
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