EIGHT ALMS STARS SELECTED TO AARWBA ALL-AMERICA BALLOT
Braselton, Ga. - Eight current and former champions from the American Le Mans Series have been nominated to the prestigious American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association's All-America Auto Racing Team. The ALMS has the greatest number of nominees among all U.S. road-racing series on the ballot, which was released Friday.
ALMS nominees are Champion Racing's Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro, LMP1 champions; Corvette Racing's Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin, who won their first GT1 championship together, and past champions Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell; and Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing drivers Patrick Long and Jorg Bergmeister, the ALMS' GT2 drivers champions.
After a period away from full-time ALMS competition, Pirro and Biela won four times this year to earn their first championship together and second for each. With each race, Pirro, Biela and their crew grew more and more comfortable in the No. 2 Audi R8, and it showed with podium finishes in all 10 ALMS races.
They won three events in a row (Infineon, Portland and Road America), as well as the 1,000-mile Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta to clinch the class title. The duo also finished second in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and third at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Each has previously claimed second-team honors on the All-America list.
Like Biela and Pirro, Beretta and Gavin finished each race in the top three of their class. The "Ollies" won in GT1 at six of the last seven stops on the ALMS schedule in the No. 4 Corvette C6-R, plus they posted their second straight class victory at Le Mans. They also combined for a class-high five poles during the course of the season. Beretta, who now has three ALMS class titles, twice has been a second-team selection. This is the first nomination for Gavin, who is wearing the title of class champion for the first time.
Their teammates, Fellows and O'Connell in the No. 3 Corvette C6-R, finished second in the class standings this season. They won three times this year: Road Atlanta in the spring, Mid-Ohio and Infineon, where they won for the fifth time as a duo to share an ALMS record. The two also placed second at Sebring and Le Mans to help Corvette Racing secure its fifth straight GT1 team championship. Fellows, one of the world's most accomplished road racers, has been named a first-team All-America selection three times, has been a second-teamer twice and was named honorable mention two times. O'Connell is a former honorable mention.
Long, Porsche's only American factory driver, and Bergmeister, himself a former Porsche factory pilot, capped an amazing year that saw them win five times in GT2. At the wheel of the No. 31 Petersen/White Lightning Porsche, the pairing dominated the last four rounds of the ALMS, winning each. Among the season highlights were victories at the series' two longest events: Sebring and Petit Le Mans. Long and Bergmeister, along with Timo Bernhard, finished second in class at Le Mans after Petersen/White Lightning won in 2004.
This is the first nomination for each to the AAWRBA All-America team.
The annual vote is conducted among the membership of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association. Two nominees from each category will be named to the first team, and they will be honored at the annual AARWBA banquet Dec. 3 in Indianapolis.
The balloting will also determine a second team of the drivers placing third and fourth in each category, and honorable mentions to all other drivers receiving at least 5 percent of the vote. AARWBA members have chosen an All-America Auto Racing Team each year since 1970.
The banquet, which also concludes AARWBA's 50th anniversary, is open to the public. Ticket information is available from AARWBA, 922 N. Pass Ave., Burbank, Calif. 91505, or call (818) 842-7005. For more information, see AARWBA's Web site.