Andretti Green Acura Shows Great Speed Sunday At Mosport As XM Satellite Radio Acura Takes Third In ALMS Event

M. Franchitti, Herta Give Penske Porsches A Challenge For The Win

Andretti Green Racing drivers Marino Franchitti and Bryan Herta drove the No. 26 XM Satellite Radio Acura ARX-01a prototype in a sensational fashion Sunday in the Grand Prix of Mosport, the ninth stop in the American Le Mans Series.

Franchitti and Herta, seeking their first podium finish since Houston, mounted a spectacular challenge for the dominant Penske Porsches on the fast 2.45-mile Mosport International Raceway road circuit. At the conclusion of the two-hour, 45-minute contest, the Andretti Green pair had to settle for third in the LMP2 class after racing wheel-to-wheel with the Penske machines that had won six straight ALMS events overall.

At the start, Franchitti gave the front-running Porsche of Romain Dumas a strong bid for the lead before an electrical malfunction on the No. 26 Acura hurt his chances for the top position. After an hour of dicing inches apart from the Penske car, Franchitti’s machine developed a glitch in the dashboard. As a result, the Andretti Green car didn’t have traction control, rev or shift lights throughout the reminder of the race.

But Franchitti and Herta soldiered on to bring the XM Acura back to the podium behind the two Penske Porsches. It was the seventh consecutive overall win for a Penske Porsche, won this time by Timo Bernhard and Dumas.

The No. 15 Lowe’s Fernandez Acura Lola B06/40 ran as high third overall Sunday before a piece of bodywork from another race car slowed the charge of drivers Luis Diaz and Adrian Fernandez. The errant piece became stuck in the front of the Lowe’s Acura, causing an ill-handling car for part of the race. When the crew removed the part on a pit stop, Fernandez came from eighth to sixth at the finish.

The toughest break of the day fell upon the Highcroft Acura team of Stefan Johansson and David Brabham. Coming off podium finishes at Lime Rock and Road America, the veteran pair looked primed to fight with the Penske Porsches and the AGR Acura Sunday at Mosport.

However, Johansson, the former Formula One star and past Le Mans winner, had driven the No. 9 Acura to second overall when his car was struck by a slower GT-2 Porsche in Turn Two. Johansson was able to limp the car back to the pits but the rear suspension damage was too severe to continue the remainder of the race. Despite the DNF, Johansson and Brabham stay third in LMP 2 points.

The next ALMS race is Sept. 1 in Detroit.

Grand Prix of Mosport
American Le Mans Series LMP2 Class
1. Penske Porsche No. 7
2. Penske Porsche No. 6
3. ANDRETTI GREEN RACING ACURA No. 26
6. LOWE’S FERNANDEZ ACURA LOLA No. 15
8. HIGHCROFT RACING ACURA No. 9

ALMS Point Standings (LMP2)
1. Romain Dumas, Timo Bernhard 170
2. Ryan Briscoe, Saasha Maassen 149
3. DAVID BRABHAM, STEFAN JOHANSSON 93
4. Andy Wallace, Butch Leitzinger 87
5. Chris Dyson, Guy Smith 83
6. BRYAN HERTA 82
7. ADRIAN FERNANDEZ, LUIS DIAZ 78

ACURA QUOTES:

BRYAN HERTA (#26 XM Satellite Radio AGR Acura ARX-01a): “I’m really pleased to get back on the podium because it gives us some momentum now. We had some electronic issues and we got a penalty due to those things. Marino [Franchitti] did a fantastic job running with the leaders early in the race. And at the end we had the same pace or better even with those problems. I think we can take a lot of positives out of this race. Every track that we have been able to test ahead of time has been a good one for us. That has been a key to the XM Acura team. We need some more time testing this new car. We didn’t have rev or shift lights, any traction control or dash lights in general. We were missing some things that could have made us a little quicker. But overall I’m pleased with the car, the crew and our pace. I think we’ll have a good car for next week in Detroit.”

MARINO FRANCHITTI (#26 XM Satellite Radio AGR Acura ARX-01a): “The XM Acura was awesome today. I think we had the measure of the Penske Porsches today. But we had a couple of little electronic issues which took a few laps for me to work out. We lost the dash and other lights but we were keeping [Romain] Dumas honest. I think we actually had a faster car but it is very difficult to pass here. I could have tried but it was early in the race and I didn’t want to force anything with the Porsches. The Acura ARX-01a chassis was fantastic and the AGR guys had the car right on the money today. This is a great team effort to fight some little problems and get back on the podium. I was proud of the job Bryan did with no lights or dash and he fought hard to finish third. We are going to Detroit with renewed optimism.”

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (No. 15 Lowe’s Fernandez Racing Acura Lola B06/40): “We had a good race. We had some problems in the warm-up and made a few changes and the car was pretty good in the race. Luis had a good fight and then I jumped in the car and we were third behind the Penskes. I thought we were looking good for awhile but when I went to pass one of the backmarkers, he didn’t see me. I touched him with my left fender and some of his bodywork stuck to the car. After that, I couldn’t turn right and had a huge amount of push which made us pit and also have to change tires instead of just taking fuel because the tires were dirty from the push. After the stop, the car came to life. Unfortunately, it was a little too late because we lost a lot of time. It cost us at least 10 seconds trying to get that piece off. These races are tough and traffic plays a big part. It is just one of those things, and that pit stop cost us. But we had a good race and I was happy with the performance.”

LUIS DIAZ (No. 15 Lowe’s Fernandez Racing Acura Lola B06/40): “In the beginning of the race, I was a little conservative, especially with traffic. I was in a good spot with the Penske Porsche and Stefan [Johansson] in the early part. The Lowe’s car was very good and I was comfortable. I think we had the car for a podium finish today. Unfortunately, we got a piece of bodywork from another car in our car’s front end. And the car didn’t handle as well as it did earlier. So we lost a lot of time in the pits with that piece. I thought we had a car that could race with the No. 6 Porsche today. So we’ll take the points and move on to Detroit. I raced there once in the Indy Lights.”

STEFAN JOHANSSON (#9 Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-01a): “I was going down into Turn Two and the No. 73 Porsche was on the inside. I was passing on the outside, like all of the prototype cars have been doing with the GT cars. But I was hit in the left rear hard by the Porsche. I don’t know what he was doing or thinking. Maybe he just lost it but his car hit my car pretty damn hard. The Highcroft guys tried to fix the rear suspension but it was just too messed up to continue. It was really a shame because we were running with the Penske cars today. The Highcroft Acura was a really strong car. Just a tough break for the crew and Acura.

DAVID BRABHAM (#9 Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-01a): “I feel badly for Stefan and the team because we had a good car today. I never got the chance to drive it but Stefan was putting in some very solid laps and I think we might have been able to race with the Penskes.”

Upcoming: Petit Le Mans
Date: October 4-6, 2007
Location: Road Atlanta
Braselton, Georgia

Track Type:

2.54-mile, 12-turn road circuit

Race:

Round 10 of 12 Races, 11:45 am
American Le Mans Series
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