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Professional SportsCar Racing and FIA Preview from Laguna Seca

25 October 1997

Laguna Seca, CA--After traveling 3,000 miles from Sebring, FL the WSC,
GTS1-3 and FIA GT cars have arrived safely.  Twenty-One cars are
listed on the PSR WSC entry list, with two of the twenty-one teams
listed as "TBA."  With 19 WSC cars, this would still be the largest
field of the WSC class.  Part of the reason for the large number of
cars appearing this weekend is that the entry fees for this race have
been waived.  This scenario adds more fuel to the "Andy Evans Inferno"
that has raged for the last three weeks.  Teams have not been paid
prize money for the Mosport, Las Vegas, or Pikes Peak races. It is a
curious time for all.

In WSC, the Dyson Ford teammates Butch Leitzinger and Elliott-Forbes
Robinson are locked in a torid battle for the championship. Leitzinger
carries a 6 point lead into this final race of the season. Leitzinger
placed his car quickly at the top during the second practice session of
the day.  His time of 1:19.229, for a speed of 101.69 mph, broke the
existing track record. No doubt that part of Leitzingers' strategy on
Sunday will be to achieve the one precious point for leading at least
one point, and another point for leading the most laps.  Leitzinger, as
of today will be paired with John Paul, Jr. However, that scenario
could change before Sunday's race.

The Ferrari team of Hermann and Montermini held down second place in
the second session. The team, fresh off the victory at Sebring, was
trying various spring and gear settings throughout the day.

This is the first time the WSC cars have appeared at Laguna Seca. For
some of the drivers, this is a first time to this 2.238 mile course,
known best for the famous "corkscrew" turn. Teams with prior knowledge
of this course no doubt will have an upper-hand, at least through this
first-day of practice.

The FIA GT cars held their first day of practice as well,
today. Porsche drivers Hans Stuck and Thierry Boutsen were the fastest
with a time of 1:20.005, for a speed of 100.704 mph. Porsche holds
down the top three spots, with Kelleners/McNish in the #47 Porsche,
followed by Dalmas and Wollek. The Mercedes team of Schneider and
Ludwig, last week's winners at Sebring, are currently fourth.

In GTS 1-3 practice for the Exxon Series the Panoz team currently
holds down the top two positions. Panoz driver's Doc Bundy and Andy
Wallace posted the fastest time with a lap of 1:20.665, for an average
speed of 99.879 mph. They were followed very closely by the teammates
of David Brabham and Eric Bernard in the #96 Panoz. Brabham and
Bernard posted a time of 1:20.685 mph for an average speed of 99.854
mph. The Porsche GT1 of Pilgrim, McNish and Rohr did not post a time
during the practice sessions.
 
In GT2 Franz Konrad and Nick Ham led the way with a time of 1:27.332,
for an average speed of 92.254 mph. In GT3 Bill Auberlen led the way
with a time of 1:29.465, for an average speed of 90.005 mph. Auberlen
paired with Boris Said is trying to achieve his first professional
driver's championship.

More to follow......

David Treffer -- The Autochannel