BMW has announced that it will not modify the V12 LMR following Bill Auberlen's back-flip at the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta last weekend. The American walked away unscathed but was roundly blamed for the crash by following the Team Rafanelli Lola too closely over the sharp crest of a hill.
Analysis suggests, in fact, that the Lola moved across the BMW to pass a Chevrolet Corvette, suddenly altering the aerodynamics at the most critical point on the circuit. "The analysis of the telemetry data and all the information from the drivers show that our car still developed downforce on this infamously critical hill at Road Atlanta," said Dr. Mario Theissen, Sporting Director at BMW. "If another car suddenly crosses the track less than a car's length in front of it, this downforce naturally dies completely. So far as I am concerned, the accident will not result in any technical modifications."
BMW has built a car around another chassis for Auberlen and Jean-Marc Gounon in time for the tenth round of the American Le Mans Series at Laguna Seca this weekend.
ALMS championship scoring
Audi could win the American Le Mans Series championship for manufacturers if the two R8s finish in the top four places at Laguna Seca, ahead of both BMW and Panoz. The German manufacturer has won each of the last five rounds, four of them falling to Allan McNish and Rinaldo Capello. McNish carries an eight-point lead in the drivers' championship over Capello and BMW's Joerg Mueller.
In the GTS championship for manufacturers, Viper Team ORECA and DaimlerChrysler have, unofficially, won the title already following the second place at the Petit Le Mans. DaimlerChrysler leads Porsche by 232 points to 177 with a maximum of 78 available, but only the top 10 of 12 points count, meaning that Porsche would have to drop 34 points. It is the second consecutive title for Viper Team ORECA, and the first for DaimlerChrysler, which lost out to Porsche last year. The battle for the drivers' championship has yet to be decided. Olivier Beretta leads Karl Wendlinger by two points, with Tommy Archer third, six points ahead of his co-driver this weekend, David Donohue.
Saleen S7 in Laguna Seca
The stunning Saleen S7 will make its world racing debut at Laguna Seca this weekend in the American Le Mans Series. The single model, entered in the GTS category against Chrysler, Chevrolet and Porsche, will be driven, as expected, by Ron Johnson, Terry Borcheller and Tommy Kendall.
Private Viper Teams
Toine Hezemans has decided not to enter the Carsport Holland Viper GTS R/T at this weekend's ALMS race at Laguna Seca for his son Mike and Dutch star Tom Coronel. Hezemans had intended on entering the final two American rounds of the ALMS, but is now to concentrate on winning the FIA GT Championship at Magny Cours, France on October 22. Mike could claim the title if he wins the race with the Lister Storm of Julian Bailey and Jamie Campbell-Walter third or lower. "I never imagined that we could win the FIA GT Championship," said Hezemans. "It is only a small chance, but we have to take it." The team will air-freight the car out of France to Las Vegas the following Monday.
Victory in the FIA series would round off yet another successful season for private Viper teams. Paul Belmondo Racing lies just two points behind the Lister Storm team in the FIA GT Championship for teams, and Carsport Holland is third with one round to go.
Dominique Dupuy won the French GT Championship in the Dominique Dupuy Organisation Viper that he shares with Francois Fiat. The pair beat Francois Lafon and Jean-Pierre Jarier in the FCL-ART Viper to the title.
The Belgian GL PK team was leading the Belcar championship with one race to go, but an accident at the final round meant that it could not win the title. The Zakspeed team currently leads the German GT championship while in Sweden, the OKA Racing Team has won its domestic racing series.
Marcos Mantara LM600
Cor Euser is planning to race in either the FIA GT Championship or the European Le Mans Series, and at Le Mans next season with a modified version of his Marcos Mantara LM600. The new car will be 7cm narrower than this year's model that the Dutchman had intended to campaign in the GT series this year. "It is what the FIA and the ACO want," he said. Wrangles concerning the legality of his car meant that he was excluded from the series following the race at Zolder, Belgium in July. The car was elegible for domestic GT series, and Calum Lockie won the British title at Silverstone on Sunday.
The narrower version, that Euser calls the two-metre car, must resemble the road version of the Marcos Mantara to satisfy the FIA, and this looks unlikely as Euser plans to keep the rear-gearbox layout that has now been homologated.
The European Le Mans Series organisers are not expecting to complete next year's schedule before the end of next week, said a spokeswoman on Monday. Representatives from the ELMS, Brands Hatch, Silverstone and Donington are expected to meet to work out where the first round in Europe, on April 14, is to be held, but Silverstone is tipped to get the nod.
FIA GT calendar
The FIA has ratified next year's FIA GT Championship calendar at a world council meeting last week. The only change to the calendar that was published last week is that Silverstone has switched from August 12 to May 13, pushing Zolder back a week to May 20. The location of the German round of the series, on August 12, has yet to be confirmed.
SportsRacing World cup
The FIA has raised the status of the SportsRacing World Cup, which will be re-named for the third consecutive year and will now be known as the FIA Sports Car Championship next season. Organiser John Mangoletsi says that he is "delighted" to have the official recognition
The full FIA Sports Car Championship calendar includes: February 3-4, Rolex 24 at Daytona; April 8, Barcelona; April 22, Monza 1000kms; May 27, Spa; July 1, Italy; July 15, Brno; July 29, Magny Cours; August 26, Donington Park; September 16, Nurburgring; November 25, Kyalami