The American Le Mans Series has reached the halfway point of its season with five races remaining on the 2009 schedule heading into this weekend’s Acura Sports Car Challenge at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Lowe’s Fernandez Racing drivers Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz were a dominant force in the first half of the season aboard the #15 Lowe’s Acura ARX-01b on Michelin tires and are hoping to continue that stride in the closing stages despite new challenges.
For Fernandez and Diaz, who currently lead their class standings by 44 points, the competition is set to heat up in the LMP2 category. Dyson Racing have clearly made strides in their first-year effort with the Mazda Lola B09/86, claiming their first class win at Lime Rock two weeks ago. Meanwhile, the Porsche RS Spyder will make its inaugural appearance this season, returning to P2 competition at Mid-Ohio with Team Cytosport.
With 20 career starts at Mid-Ohio between them and many miles logged in testing over the years, Fernandez and Diaz hope that experience will add to their arsenal this Saturday. The pair have claimed podium finishes the last two years at Mid-Ohio in ALMS competition, with Fernandez and then teammate Mario Haberfeld scoring the first sports car victory for Lowe’s Fernandez Racing at Mid-Ohio in the 2006 Grand-Am Series.
Note: Effective with the Mid-Ohio race and for the remainder of the season, the minimum weight of an LMP2 car has been reduced by 25 kilograms (55 pounds).
•Circuit – 2.258-miles, 13-turn road course
•Race length – 2 hours 45 minutes
•Driver changes – a driver may not drive more than two hours total in the race
•Fernandez has made 12 career starts at Mid-Ohio dating back to 1992: two in ALMS competition, one in Grand-Am, eight in Champ Car and one in Indy Lights
•Fernandez’s record at Mid-Ohio includes four podium finishes with wins in Grand-Am (2006) and Champ Car (1998)
•Diaz has made eight career starts at Mid-Ohio dating back to 2000: two in ALMS competition, three in Grand-Am, one in Atlantics and two in Indy Lights
•Diaz’s record at Mid-Ohio includes four podium finishes with two third-place drives in ALMS competition and a second and third-place result in Grand-Am (2005/2004)
•With four class wins to date this season (Sebring, St. Petersburg, Long Beach and Salt Lake City) and a second-place result in the last race held at Lime Rock, Fernandez and Diaz currently lead the LMP2 standings by 44 points
•Lowe’s Fernandez Racing is currently second in the prototype category of the season-long Michelin® GREEN X® Challenge, which acknowledges competitors that demonstrate the best overall performance and fuel efficiency with the least environmental impact
•In 28 ALMS starts to date, Fernandez and Diaz have claimed five class pole positions, four class wins and 10 podium finishes
Fernandez on the race: “We don’t expect an easy run this weekend but we do expect to be in contention for a win. It’s obvious that the Dyson team continues to make progress with their cars and the addition of the Porsche will make things interesting. I am anxious to see what we gain in lap times with the new rule reducing the weight of the car. As for Mid-Ohio, I have been coming here for so long that it feels like a second home. It is a track that I thoroughly enjoy driving and it is really a hometown race for the team being so close to Indianapolis. Once again, we have high expectations coming in to the race and hopefully we can meet those.”
Diaz on the championship: “We have had a good first half of the season but we can’t rest and we have to keep pushing hard. A 44-point lead may sound like a lot, but it really isn’t and we need to make sure that we score points in every race. If you don’t make it to 70% of the race distance, you don’t score points and with 20 points for a win, that can really change the landscape. We had a mechanical problem in the last race at Lime Rock – our first problem this year – and lost a lot of laps. It would have been easy to stop there but we never gave up. It was important to finish to bring home the points and that’s what we did. The team has a lot of momentum right now and going to a track like Mid-Ohio where we have been successful in the past adds to our confidence. We are looking for another strong run this weekend.”