Mosport may have been a gem for me 12 months ago, winning with Jan Magnussen, but the 2012 version of the newly renamed Canadian Tire Motorsport Park race wasn’t too kind.
My team-mate, Tommy Milner and I have had a really great start to the season, with two wins and two further podium finishes, but one of the realities of racing is that at some point in a season you can have a bad weekend, and this fifth round of the ALMS was our ‘one to forget’.
Just 14 minutes into the race, Tommy was running second when there was an awful noise from the gearbox and then no drive. He was forced to pull over and wait for a tow truck to get the car back to the garage. The team weren’t 100 per cent sure of the problem at the time so they replaced all the gearbox internals, and did a fantastic job to get us back out again, but we were 20 laps down.
From then on it was a case of trying to stay out of everyone’s way and hoping we could pick up a few points. We finished 11th on track (in GT) but the winning Flying Lizard Porsche was disqualified for failing a stall test in post-race tech so we picked up one point. We’re now joint-second in the standings, while Jan and Antonio were promoted to second in the results and nipped in front of us in the championship. It was a good result in the end for ALMS centenarian Johannes van Overbeek and Extreme Speed Motorsports as they got their first win in the series. It’s always a shame if you don’t get to spray the champagne, but a win’s a win and any driver will tell you they’ll take it anyway they can.
For us, we’ll have to wait until Mid-Ohio (August 2-4) now to have another go for that top step of the podium. Don’t bet against us as Tommy and I like that winning feeling a lot!!
The changing face of Mosport
The Ontario track was designed and built in the late 1950s so has a lot of history and has been the venue for some great F1 and sports car battles through the years.
Taken over by a consortium of business partners last year, headed by former Corvette Racing legend Ron Fellows, a lot of work has started in order to upgrade the facilities, but keep the fast and flowing nature of the track itself. So far Ron has done a fantastic job and the facilities are starting to evolve. There was a good crowd at the weekend that will have benefited from improved access roads and a new double-lane entrance tunnel. The spectator experience has definitely been enhanced with more viewing banks.
There is still plenty of work to be done and the pit buildings and garages are all due to be pulled down this winter to be replaced in time for the 2013 season so pretty substantial changes are underway. We all like coming here because it’s such a fast and challenging venue, and some upgraded facilities will only make that experience better for everyone.
The weeks ahead
I’m staying in the US now for a couple of weeks and am heading for the Pratt & Miller race shop on the outskirts of Detroit for the next few days. Antonio and I are staying with Robin and Gary Pratt at their lovely house so that should be fun and relaxing. We’ll have some debrief meetings to work out what happened during the Mosport race and try to ensure we don’t have any further bad weekends. Perhaps we’ll find a better work surface to hold those on than Tommy did at Mosport. We do have desks/tables in the Corvette Racing trucks, honestly.
At the end of the week I’m going to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Grand-Am race, the series’ first ever at the prestigious venue. I’m with the Spirit of Daytona team but I won’t be racing as it’s only a three-hour race and Antonio and Richard Westbrook are going for maximum points… I’m guessing my chief role here could well turn out to be Richard’s slave and helmet carrier! Whatever happens, I’ll be happy to support my team-mates and get the chance to visit IMS and see some friends from Grand-Am, NASCAR and IndyCar.