The American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron heads to the newly renamed Canadian Tire Motorsport Park for the fifth round of the season this Sunday at Mosport in Ontario. It's also the series' lone Canadian stop of the year, and widely accepted as one of the most challenging tracks on the schedule that regularly separates the men from the boys.
With 11 of 29 projected cars, GT should draw most of the headlines. Corvette won this race last year – its only 2011 win – and still leads the points with Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner. That duo has podiumed in all four races this year and enters with an eight-point margin over teammates Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia. Also within striking distance is defending champion BMW Team RLL and Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller. BMW, after a late penalty took the Bill Auberlen/Dirk Werner car out of contention, looks for its first Mosport win since the return of the M3 GT2 in 2009.
Flying Lizard's Lime Rock win got Jorg Bergmeister and Patrick Long up to fourth, but still some 33 points back of the Gavin/Milner duo. The No. 45 Porsche is equal with the No. 01 Extreme Speed Ferrari of Johannes van Overbeek and Scott Sharp, still in search of the team's elusive first win. Van Overbeek makes his 100th ALMS start. Andy Lally fills in for Marco Holzer in the second Flying Lizard Porsche as Holzer's occupied on another assignment. Meanwhile the second ESM Ferrari of Guy Cosmo and Ed Brown seeks a recovery from late contact with a PC car at Lime Rock that forced the car into the tire barriers while in a top-five position.
With IndyCar racing the same day in Edmonton, some IndyCar/ALMS participants are split in where they're based. BMW's Bobby Rahal will be at Edmonton overseeing Takuma Sato's IndyCar, while Derrick Walker, also team manager for Ed Carpenter Racing, stays in Mosport overseeing Team Falken Tire's Porsche. Townsend Bell, normally one of NBC Sports Network's IndyCar pit reporters, will be racing in the Alex Job Lotus Evora at Mosport rather than reporting in Edmonton.
In the prototype ranks, an even smaller P1 and P2 field is on tap – six cars projected between the two – for the two-hour, 45-minute race. Mosport veteran Tony Burgess replaces Michael Marsal alongside Eric Lux in Dyson's older Lola-Mazda coupe; otherwise the P1 field stays the same as Muscle Milk HPD seeks its fourth straight win on both Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf's birthday weekend.
P2 drops by at least one with Dempsey Racing not taking its Lola Judd to the track, and possibly two if Level 5 opts, as in Lime Rock, to not run its second HPD with Scott Tucker and Luis Diaz. The team withdrew the Tucker/Diaz car at Lime Rock due to IMSA's drive time requirements. After three consecutive runner-ups, Conquest Endurance could end the Level 5 perfect start to 2012 if Martin Plowman and David Heinemeier Hansson survive a race without any pit issues.
Challenge classes could have as many as eight (PC) and four (GTC) entrants although the PC number may drop by two, if Merchant Services' second car and Performance Tech entries are withdrawn as in Lime Rock. The biggest change here is Marino Franchitti making his first start in class for the PR1/Mathiasen team, alongside Ken Dobson. Franchitti replaces Butch Leitzinger this race in what was a late decision by the team.
PR1 or anyone else (RSR, Dempsey, Merchant Services) looks to stop CORE autosport's four-for-four win streak to start the year. Ryan Dalziel makes his second start of the year for CORE, alongside class points leader Alex Popow, while the team's sister car of Colin Braun and team principal Jon Bennett has won the last two. Kyle Marcelli, whose talent hasn't been able to shine through results-wise in 2012 despite promising pace for Merchant Services, will be keen to impress on home soil.
There's a five-point gap in the GTC standings as Alex Job's Cooper MacNeil (Lime Rock winner) leads the Green Hornet No. 34 of Damien Faulkner and Peter LeSaffre.
Live streaming coverage is available starting at 11:45 a.m. Eastern on Sunday, July 22 on ESPN3.com, with ESPN2 airing same-day coverage starting at 1:00 p.m.