STRONG COLLECTION OF SERIES TEAMS INVITED TO LE MANS Three of four classes to have sharp American flavor at 24 Hours A total of seven full-time American Le Mans Series teams with nine entries are set to compete at this year's running of the 24...
STRONG COLLECTION OF SERIES TEAMS INVITED TO LE MANS
Three of four classes to have sharp American flavor at 24 Hours
A total of seven full-time American Le Mans Series teams with nine entries are set to compete at this year's running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world's premier motor race. The Series' representatives cover three of the four classes in the 78th edition of the French classic organized by the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), which announced the list of accepted entries Thursday morning.
A mix of past champions and competitors at Le Mans and several historic firsts highlight American Le Mans Series teams. In addition, two of the Series' and Le Mans' premium manufacturers - BMW and Jaguar - will make their return for the June 12-13 race.
The competitive impact of the American Le Mans Series - founded in 1999 - on the 24 Hours of Le Mans has been significant. In addition to eight overall victories, Series teams have claimed a total of 25 class championships.
In LMP1, Drayson Racing will make its first start with its Judd-powered Lola B09/60 coupe in the 24 Hours in the race's highest classification. Paul Drayson, Minister of Lord Drayson, Minister for Science and Innovation in the United Kingdom, and Jonny Cocker will continue the partnership that will see them returning a full-time effort in the American Le Mans Series.
In addition, Michael Lewis' Autocon Motorsports received its second invitation in three years. The team will take its AER-powered Lola this time around after running a Creation-Judd in 2008.
After capturing the American Le Mans Series' LMP1 title in 2009, Highcroft Racing will compete in LMP2 with its factory-backed HPD ARX-01c. David Brabham, a three-time Le Mans winner with an overall victory last year for Peugeot and two GT1 titles with Aston Martin Racing, will lead the team's charge.
"While our drivers have been to Le Mans and I've raced there four times, only a handful of our crew guys have done the race so we will be on a steep learning curve," said team owner Duncan Dayton. "We are going to have to earn it, work very hard and be a quick study because most of the competitors we will be fighting with have been there before."
While the team competes in the American Le Mans Series as Patron Highcroft Racing, advertising laws in France will not permit the team to display its regular colors. "We're going to be headed to France with new colors in June," Dayton confirmed. "We would have loved to fly the Patron flag in the biggest endurance race in the world, but we now have a great opportunity to introduce new marketing partners to a massive international audience."
A bevy of Series teams and manufacturers fill the GT2 grid including two cars each for Corvette Racing and Risi Competizione. This year's race presents an interesting dynamic as both teams won in class last year. Corvette Racing closed out its GT1 era with its sixth victory since 2002 with the GT1 version of the Corvette C6.R. Chevrolet's factory team moved to GT2 at Mid-Ohio last year and won its first GT2 race three events later at Mosport.
Risi has dominated the world's major endurance events dating back to 2008 with five consecutive victories - Le Mans and Petit Le Mans in 2008 and 2009, and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida in 2009. This year's race looks to be the final go-around for the team with its Ferrari F430 GTs.
Flying Lizard Motorsports will contest Le Mans for the seventh consecutive season with a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The team solidified its standing among the world's best in GT2 last year with a second consecutive class title in the American Le Mans Series.
Jaguar will make its return to Le Mans for the first time since 1995 with Paul Gentilozzi's JaguarRSR and the new Jaguar XKRS. The team and car made their world racing debuts during last year's American Le Mans Series finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and will compete full-time in the GT class this year.
"We are delighted the ACO has granted us entry in the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans," said Gentilozzi, who will drive with former GT1 Le Mans winner Scott Pruett and Marc Goossens. It is a race that is held dearly in the hearts of motorsport fans across the world and for Jaguar to be racing again is something special."
Other entries to Le Mans carry deep ties to the American Le Mans Series. The biggest battle in the race will again be diesel powers Audi vs. Peugeot, their fourth time going head-to-head at the 24 Hours. Audi Sport will enter three of its re-engineered Audi R15 TDIs - two of which have committed for Petit Le Mans to close the 2010 season. Defending race-winner Peugeot, which also won at Road Atlanta, will have four cars on the Le Mans grid.
In addition, Aston Martin Racing and new factory driver Adrian Fernandez - last year's LMP2 champion in the American Le Mans Series - will enter two of its Aston Martin-powered Lola coupes in LMP1.
BMW Motorsport will compete on a factory level at Le Mans for the first time since 1999. The works team will campaign two BMW M3s in GT2.
The American Le Mans Series will open its 12th season with America's greatest sports car race, the 58th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida from March 17-20. The green flag will fall at 10:35 a.m. on Saturday, March 20 with live coverage on SPEED.
The annual American Le Mans Series Winter Test is scheduled for February 22- 23, also at Sebring International Raceway.
You can follow the Series on Twitter (almsnotes) and on our Facebook page and the official YouTube channel.