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Local Sports

ALMS heads north of the border

Highlands Today Special to Highlands Today
Published:   |   Updated: March 11, 2013 at 07:32 PM

It's time for the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón to head north of the border. Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (formerly Mosport International Raceway) beckons for the Mobil 1 presents the Grand Prix of Mosport, which is the lone Canada stop for the ALMS.

The Grand Prix of Mosports has a tough act to follow in Saturday's Northeast Grand Prix, which saw Muscle Milk Pickett Racing erase a four-lap deficit and catch Dyson Racing to win the LMP1 class.

"I could not have driven any quicker," said Muscle Milk driver Klaus Graf, who made the winning pass on Guy Smith with less than 30 minutes remaining. "Until I had gotten into the lead, I wasn't aware of our position. I just pushed like crazy in traffic, taking a lot of risks. Guy is a world-class driver so it was not going to be easy to get around him."

Canadian Tire Motorsport Park annually has some of the highest speeds on the ALMS schedule and best crowds, as well. Fans routinely see cars averaging more than 135 miles-per-hour a lap across the 2.459-mile, 10-turn layout – a circuit largely unchanged from when the track held its first race in 1961. The ALMS raced at the track for the first time in 1999 and has returned each season since.

This year's race is set for Sunday, July 22. Just like last year, Muscle Milk enters as defending race winner. Unlike 2011, the pairing of Graf and Lucas Luhr drive an Honda Performance Development ARX-03a prototype instead of a Lola-Aston Martin. The pairing also lead the ALMS' P1 championship and ride a three-race win streak following last weekend at Lime Rock Park.

Dyson Racing counters with two Mazda-powered Lola. The team won overall at the track in 2004 and 2005. Chris Dyson and Guy Smith will drive one Lola-Mazda with Eric Lux and Toronto's Tony Burgess sharing the other.

Corvette Racing's Jan Magnussen and Oliver Gavin won the GT class last year but are in competing cars this time around. Gavin and Tommy Milner lead the GT championship with two victories in four races this season. Magnussen and Antonio Garcia stand second with defending ALMS GT champions Joey Hand and Dirk Müller of BMW Team RLL third in their title defense. Flying Lizard Motorsports is coming off its first victory of the season with Jörg Bergmeister and Patrick Long's Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.

Level 5 Motorsports seeks its fifth straight P2 victory of the season at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park with its HPD ARX-03b. Christophe Bouchut and team owner Scott Tucker won three of the first four rounds of the season including a nail-biter over Conquest Endurance at Lime Rock.

CORE autosport also comes to Canada a perfect 4-for-4 in Prototype Challenge this season. Colin Braun and team owner Jonathan Bennett won at Lime Rock in their ORECA FLM09 for a second straight victory. Alex Popow in CORE's second entry continues to lead the championship following a second-place finish at Lime Rock with Tom Kimber-Smith. Last year, Mosport marked CORE's first 1-2 class finish in its young ALMS history.

In GT Challenge, Spencer Pumpelly seeks his second straight class victory with TRG – this year driving with Emilio di Guida. Class championship leader Cooper MacNeil won his first race of the year at Lime Rock with Leh Keen, and the pairing are together again in Canada. Their victory last weekend extended AJR's lead in the class' team championship.

The two-hour, 45-minute race begins at noon and ESPN2 will cover the end of the race, with coverage beginning at 1 p.m. (863) 386-5841