Nancy Knapp Schilke, ALMS correspondent
Three time championship team switches to a factory supported Lotus Evora GTE
Group Lotus and Alex Job Racing (AJR) will campaign the 2012 American Le Mans Series GT class in the Lotus Evora starting with the street circuit in Long Beach, California. Lotus has been involved in sports car racing since back in the day of the famous Lotus Type 11 around the globe; especially at the famous La Sarthe circuit in Le Mans, France.
"I am excited to announce the racing partnership between Lotus and Alex Job Racing in North America,” said Alex Job. "Our efforts and ability to attract Lotus is a testament to the hard work that AJR has put in over the past several years.”
The name Lotus alone conjures up racing machines and exquisite sports cars on the road. AJR is one of the top teams in endurance racing with two GT class 24 Hours of Le Mans victories and a total of seven class wins in the 12 hour event in Sebring, Florida.
"We are focused on winning," Dany Bahar, CEO of Group Lotus, said. "Alex Job has one of the best records in sports car racing. We look forward to working together and developing a top-tier team over the coming years. Racing is a core component of the Lotus brand, and we are thrilled to have this new partnership to further enhance our winning racing heritage."
The team already had key partners in place for their new adventure and they include William Rast, Battery Tender, and Yokohama. Lotus AJR Team Principal Job explained, “Bill Sweedler, Townsend Bell, and Colin Dyne (CEO, William Rast) played the key role in forging this long-term relationship with Lotus. We collectively look forward to representing this iconic sports car brand for years to come in GT racing."
Bill Sweedler became a two-time consecutive Founders Cup winner last year in the Porsche only GT Challenge class; however the ALMS award is based across all four classes combined. Last year in the GTC championship, AJR finished third in the team title fight. Sweedler finished fourth in the drivers’ points battle. Besides taking on the challenge of racing the Lotus for the first time, Sweedler’s new co-driver is Townsend Bell.
"I am really excited about 2012 and driving with Townsend," Sweedler said. He will be a strong addition to the team. I had a fantastic time working with AJR for the last couple of years and am honored to continue as one of their drivers. Alex and his team run a first class operation just like Lotus. It will be a strong partnership."
The fact that I get to work with one of the best teams in sports car racing is icing on the cake.
Bell is looking forward to his first season in the ALMS after a career in open-wheel racing. The former 2001 Indy Lights champion said, "Having the chance to represent such a great brand like Lotus is simply awesome,"Bell said. "The fact that I get to work with one of the best teams in sports car racing is icing on the cake. I'm really fired-up to work with Alex, Bill, and my good friend Colin Dyne from William Rast in what will undoubtedly be a great adventure. Time to buckle up!"
Having Lotus on board for the new season is a plus for the series as they head into their first race in 2012 in less than one month. Unfortunately the Lotus Alex Job Racing Evora will not be competing in the Twelve Hours of Sebring.
"This is doubly good news for the American Le Mans Series. It's a pleasure to welcome the Lotus brand and their spectacular Evora to the most competitive GT class of racing in the world,” commented Scott Atherton, president and ALMS CEO. “To have this factory-backed effort spearheaded by Alex Job - one of the most successful team owners in ALMS history - assures that this truly will be yet another championship-caliber entry to the GT class.”