ACO, ALMS, Manufacturers plan the future

American Le Mans Series, Automobile Club de l'Ouest, Manufacturers, hold summit for 2004 and beyond. BRASELTON, Ga. (January 15, 2003) -- American Le Mans Series executives met in Paris today with representatives of auto manufacturers and ...

American Le Mans Series, Automobile Club de l'Ouest, Manufacturers, hold summit for 2004 and beyond.

BRASELTON, Ga. (January 15, 2003) -- American Le Mans Series executives met in Paris today with representatives of auto manufacturers and officials of the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) to discuss plans for the future of Le Mans-style sports car racing.

Don Panoz, the founder of the American Le Mans Series, represented the series in the summit meeting along with ALMS President Scott Atherton and Doug Robinson, the Executive Director of series sanctioning body IMSA. The ALMS operates on an agreement with the ACO, which organizes the 24 Hours of Le Mans, to utilize both the "Le Mans" name as well as the technical rules of the event.

Automobile manufacturers participating in the meeting included Audi, Michelotto (Ferrari), SARD (Toyota), General Motors, Panoz and Porsche.

Topics included new technical rules for Prototype racing that will take effect in 2004 and will be shared by the ACO and the FIA, performance criteria for each class of car, balance of performances between 2003 and 2004 cars and plans for future European endurance sports car races. Robinson has been heavily involved in the development of the new rules for much of the past 18 months.

"It was a very spirited and productive meeting," said Atherton, who returned to the United States with Panoz and Robinson after the meeting. "This meeting was by invitation of the ACO and was designed as an open forum of communication on a number of topics related to the new specifications and how they can best be implemented with current guidelines.

"It's very early, but indications are that manufacturers are finding the new rules to be appealing. The presence of a number of manufacturer representatives at the meeting, and those who wanted to be there, is an indication of the interest level," he said.

The 2003 American Le Mans Series season begins with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway Mar. 12-15.

-alms-

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