2003 was the fifth season for the American Le Mans Series. The rules for the series followed those of the legendary 24 Hour of Le Mans which meant there were four classes.

  • Le Mans Prototype 900 (LMP900) – These were the purpose-built race cars powered by a 6.0-liter normally aspirated or 4.0-litre turbocharged engine. The vehicles could weigh no less than 900-kilograms. Audi supported two teams. Privateers entered cars manufactured by Riley & Scott, Lola, Dallara and Panoz.
  • Le Mans Prototype 675 (LMP675) – Introduced in 2001 was the LMP675 class for cars that could weigh no less than 675-kilograms. The rules for the vehicles were written so that the two LMP classes (LMP900 and LMP675) would contend for the overall win.
  • Grand Touring Sport (GTS) – This class included production-based cars such as the Dodge Viper GTS-R, Chevrolet Corvette C5-R, Saleen S7-R and Ferrari 550 Maranello. The vehicles were permitted to use 8.0-litre normally aspirated or 4.0-litre turbocharged engines. These cars could weigh no less than 1,100-kilograms.
  • Grand Touring (GT) – The GT cars were also restricted to a 1,100-kilogram weight rule. This category also included production-based vehicles. Competitors raced cars such as the BMW M3, Porsche GT3RS and Ferrari 360 Modena. Unlike the GTS entries, teams in this category could not use carbon fiber brakes.

The ALMS schedule included nine North American events in 2003. The opening round was the 12 Hours of Sebring. It was followed by the first of two races at Road Atlanta, Sonoma and the series second visit to Trois Rivieres. The second Canadian event was held at Mosport, next up was Road America, then Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the Miami street circuit and finally, Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.

Mosport International Raceway hosted round five of the American Le Mans Series. The 2003 Toronto Grand Prix of Mosport had a total of thirty-three entries. Teams would compete for two-hours, forty-five-minutes around the ten-turn 2.459-mile road course.

Frank Biela and Marco Werner celebrate the overall and LMP900 class victory at the Toronto Grand Prix of Mosport. Standing on the left side of the podium are the drivers from JML Team Panoz, Scott Maxwell and Gunnar Jeannette who captured the runner-up position. The last spot on the rostrum is occupied by Olivier Beretta and David Saelens who also drove for JML Team Panoz.
In the final practice session, Frank Biela crashed the Team Joest Audi R8 - damaging the front end. The crew made repairs and the car qualified second in LMP900. Team Joest driver’s, Biela and Marco Werner took control of the race early. Werner drove the final stint and was challenged by the ADT Champion Audi of Johnny Herbert until he made a mistake. The No. 1 Audi was then able to cruise to the victory.
Fastest in the LMP900 class was J.J. Lehto driving the ADT Champion Racing Audi R8. But Lehto was not as quick as the Dyson LMP675 Lolas and started third overall. Along with his co-driver, Johnny Herbert the duo remained in contention for much of the event. Late in the contest, Herbert was challenging Werner when he made an error lapping a slower car. The incident dropped the No. 38 Audi to twentieth.
Driving the No. 4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C5-R, Oliver Gavin set the pace in practice and qualifying – winning the pole by over 0.5-second. Unfortunately, Gavin and his teammate, Kelly Collins retired early while leading the class. Gavin was moving through traffic on lap-25 when he had an incident at the high-speed corner four and crashed the Corvette.
James Weaver and his co-driver, Butch Leitzinger made history in round three at Sonoma when they were the first LMP675 team to score an overall victory. It appeared that Mosport suited the Lola EX257 as Weaver was the quickest driver in qualifying. During the race, the Lola had electronic issues requiring a number of pit-stops to replace the alternator and battery. The pair was able to salvage a third in class.
It was an Alex Job Racing Porsche on the pole again. This time it was the No. 24 entry shared by Jorg Bergmeister and Timo Bernhard that would start first in GT. During the race, Bergmeister and Bernhard were challenged by their teammates, Lucas Luhr and Sascha Maassen. Halfway through the event, a loose wheel took Luhr and Maassen out of contention. Bergmeister and Bernhard cruised to another victory.
In the center are the LMP675 class winners of the 2003 Toronto Grand Prix of Mosport – Andy Wallace and Chris Dyson. To their left, are the second-place finishers from Team Bucknum Racing – Jeff Bucknum, Bryan Willman and Chris McMurry. Taking the final position on the podium are Dyson Racing’s James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger.
The second Corvette Racing C5-R could not match the pace of their teammates in qualifying. Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connell were third in GTS. Improvements were made to the Corvette for the race and an excellent pit-stop allowed Johnny O’Connell to take the lead. During his final stint, O’Connell ‘used up’ the rear tires and was under attack from Peter Kox in a Ferrari but he was able to hold on for the victory.
After Friday’s practice sessions it appeared that the Risi Competizione team might be able to challenge the all-conquering Alex Job Porsches. The day concluded with Risi Ferrari 360 Modena GT at the top of the GT time sheets. Unfortunately, they were only the fifth quickest GT entry in qualifying. The crew made some changes to the Ferrari for the race and Anthony Lazzaro and Ralf Kelleners finished second.
Gunnar Jeannette and Scott Maxwell out-qualified their JML Team Panoz teammates – starting sixth overall and third in LMP900. They were running fourth in LMP900 when their competition encountered problems. The first was a mistake by Johnny Herbert while lapping a slower car. Olivier Beretta retired his Panoz when a similar situation occurred. These events allowed Jeannette and Maxwell to inherit second in class.
The No. 20 Dyson Lola EX257 was scheduled to start second but in the morning warm-up, Andy Wallace had an accident at corner five. The crew was able to make repairs but Wallace’s co-driver, Chris Dyson had to start from the pit lane. For the most part, Wallace and Dyson had an uneventful race and at the end of the 2-hour and 45-minute contest were first in the LMP675 class and second overall.
For the second time this season, Jorg Bergmeister and Timo Bernhard stood on the top step of the GT podium. Standing to the left of the winners are the Risi drivers, Ralf Kelleners and Anthony Lazzaro. The team suffered some reliability issues earlier in the year but they now appeared to be ‘on track’ – this was their second consecutive runner-up finish. The final spot on the podium is occupied by Marc Lieb and Peter Baron.
Starting a distant fourth in the LMP675 class were Jeff Bucknum, Bryan Willman and Chris McMurry. Their Pilbeam M91 was almost six seconds slower than the pole-winning Dyson Lola. During the race, the trio encountered alternator issues and finished thirteen laps behind the class winners. Their setbacks were not as great as the other LMP675 competitors and Bucknum, Willman and McMurry finished second.
Marc Lieb performed the qualifying duties for the Orit Racing team. At the end of the session, he was third quickest in the GT category. Lieb started the race in a car that he would share with Peter Baron. Lieb was able to match the pace of the Alex Job Porsches but a problem with the fueling rig cost the team twenty-seconds. At this point, the pair dropped out of contention and had to be satisfied with a third-place finish.
The No. 88 Ferrari failed the qualifying technical inspection (the dimensions of the rear wing were not within spec.) and were required to start at the rear of the field. Despite being gridded last, drivers Tomas Enge and Peter Kox were able to make their way to the front of the GTS class. After the final pit-stop, they were behind the leading Corvette - Kox closed the gap and finished second – 0.835-seconds behind the winners.
The GTS class podium for round five at Mosport International Raceway. In the center are the class winners from Corvette Racing – Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connell. Runner-ups, Tomas Enge and Peter Kox, are standing to the right of Fellows and O’Connell. To the winner’s left are the Prodrive Ferrari driver’s – David Brabham and Jan Magnussen who finished third.

1LMP900Biela / WernerAudi R8116-
2LMP675C. Dyson / WallaceLola EX257114-
3LMP900Maxwell / JeannettePanoz LMP01114-
4GTSFellows / O'ConnellChevrolet Corvette C5-R112-
5GTSKox / EngeFerrari 550 Maranello112-
6GTSMagnussen / BrabhamFerrari 550 Maranello111-
7LMP900Beretta / SaelensPanoz LMP01109-
8GTSNaspetti / Schiattarella / AuberlenFerrari 550 Maranello106-
9GTBernhard / BergmeisterPorsche GT3RS106-
10GTKelleners / BorchellerFerrari 360 Modena105-
11GTLieb / BaronPorsche GT3RS105-
12GTMaassen / LuhrPorsche GT3RS105-
13GTLiddell / RicePorsche GT3RS105-
14GTSBelloc / PovoledoDodge Viper GTS-R104-
15GTJackson / MurryPorsche GT3RS103-
16GTBaldi / BertoliniFerrari 360 Modena103-
17GTLewis / BorchellerFerrari 360 Modena103-
18GTGleason / BuntingPorsche GT3RS102-
19GTGregoire / Salazar /AlexanderFerrari 360 Modena102-
20LMP900Herbert / LehtoAudi R8102-
21GTSchrom / PabstPorsche GT3RS101-
22LMP675Bucknum / Willman / McMurryPilbeam MP91101-
23GTGraham / MasaratiPorsche GT3RS100-
24LMP675Weaver / LeitzingerLola EX257100-
25GTKutemann / GosseFerrari 360 Modena98-
26LMP675Workman / PatersonLola B2K/4098-
27GTSLechner / NeuhausSaleen S7R80Accident
28LMP900C. Field / ForgeoisLola B2K/1065Transmission
29GTBurgess / ShepPorsche GT3RS49Accident
30LMP675Jon Field / DaytonLola EX25729Electrical
31GTSGavin / CollinsChevrolet Corvette C5-R24Accident
32GTBuckler / WagnerPorsche GT3RS15Accident
33LMP900Lewis / DrissiR & S MK III C11Engine

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