The American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón makes its first visit to Austin’s stunning Circuit of The Americas on Saturday, Sept. 21, part of the inaugural International Sports Car Weekend presented by Continental Tire.
With only three races remaining in the 2013 season, the championships are heating up in four divisions – P2, Prototype Challenge presented by Continental Tire, GT and GTC. Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf captured their second consecutive P1 title at Baltimore with their sixth straight victory of 2013.
The weekend also includes the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) in a six-hour race on Sunday, in addition to events for the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites powered by Mazda and the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge.
ALMS competitors will test on Thursday afternoons, with practice and qualifying on Friday. The two-hour, 45-minute race begins at 3:45 p.m. on Saturday.
The 3.4-mile, 20-turn Austin circuit opened in November, 2012, hosting the lone Formula One event in the United States.
Fresh Off Test, DeltaWing Coupe Set For Debut Event
The revolutionary DeltaWing takes another major step this weekend, with the debut of the No. 0 LM12 coupe for drivers Katherine Legge and Andy Meyrick.
The team is looking to build on momentum from its successful outing at Road America, where Meyrick and Legge each led eight laps en route to finishing fifth overall and third in P1. The coupe is an evolution of the open-top version of the DeltaWing, designed by Simon Marshall and built by Élan Motorsports Technologies to conform to the 2014 ACO/FIA regulation calling for enclosed prototype cockpits.
Legge recently tested the coupe for two days at Roebling Road Raceway in Savannah, Ga.
“We’re really positive and psyched for the race at Circuit of The Americas,” Legge said. “I’ll be excited to see everyone’s reaction – it’s going to be attention grabbing!”
DeltaWing manager partner Dr. Don Panoz has guided the coupe from design to its successful first day and he, too, was quick to appreciate the coupe’s evolution.
“We’re delighted that that coupe has had a successful day of testing,” said Panoz. “The coupe provides extra space in the engine bay, which appears to have cured our engine heat problems. The car seems to be handling as well as it did without the top so we’re looking forward to seeing it in competition.”
DeltaWing also announced in August that the coupe version is available for customer purchase. A total of three coupes will be built by Élan Motorsports Technologies for sale to teams planning to compete in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship beginning in 2014.
Porsche Teams Rebuilding Following First-Lap Crash At Baltimore
Three quick strikes and Porsche was suddenly out only seconds into the running of the Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT. Racing in the shadows of the Orioles’ baseball home at Camden Yards, all three Porsches were eliminated when two prototypes tangled at the head of the field at the waving of the green flag, leaving the GT contenders nowhere to go.
Wolf Henzler, seeking his third consecutive Baltimore triumph in the No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR, joined Tom Kimber-Smith in the No. 06 CORE autosport Porsche and Bryce Miller in the No. 48 Chopard Watches/Total Lubricants/Motegi Racing Wheels Porsche at the heart of the incident that involved nearly one-third of the field.
While three Porsches were badly damaged, all three will be racing this weekend at Austin.
Kimber-Smith slowed to avoid the car of Scott Tucker who had spun, but was hit from behind into the P2 car. The car was damaged beyond repair. Team manager Morgan Brady immediately began talks with Porsche Motorsport to get a new tub. It was quickly delivered to the team, which spent nearly 500 man hours on a carefully organized plan of attack to build a new Porsche 911 GT3 RSR from the ground up.
Serving as the meat in the sandwich, damage to the No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR was deemed critical. With less than three weeks between the Baltimore and Austin races, the team opted to finish the season with its 2010 Porsche – a two-time winner in 2011. Working closely with IMSA COO Scot Elkins, Team Falken Tire team manager Derrick Walker’s crew worked around the clock to get the car ready – finally firing up its engine nine days after the Baltimore incident.
Lineup Change: CORE Moves Braun To GT Class, Shuffles PC Championship
The complexion of the race for the Prototype Challenge presented by Continental Tire championship changed dramatically with CORE autosport’s announcement that Colin Braun will move to the GT class for the next two races. That pairs Braun with Patrick Long in the team’s No. 06 Composite Resources Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, while Tom Kimber-Smith joins Jon Bennett in the No. 05 ORECA FLM09.
Braun currently leads Mike Guasch in the PC standings by eight points (112-104), with Bennett another four points back in third. Also in striking distance is Baltimore winner Tristan Nunez, with 87 points.
In GT, Compuware Corvette Racing’s Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen used a second at Road America and victory at Baltimore to pull to within two points of teammates Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner (94-92). BMW Team RLL driver Dirk Muller led the standings following a victory at Lime Rock but is now third with 86 points.
Scott Tucker’s first-lap misfortune at Baltimore resulted in no points, dropping him to fourth in the P2 standings. Teammates Marino Franchitti (125) and Guy Cosmo (121) are now 1-2 in the championship, followed by Scott Sharp with 117 points. Tucker is now 16 points behind Franchitti with 109.
Jeroen Bleekemolen and Cooper MacNeil regained the points lead in the topsy-turvy GTC championship with their victory at Baltimore. The Alex Job Racing drivers now lead the Flying Lizard Motorsports tandem of Nelson Canache Jr. and Spencer Pumpelly by six points, 109-103.
Chris Dyson Lands Ride For WEC Six Hours
With Tony Burgess and Chris McMurry co-driving the No. 16 Dyson Racing Lola B12/60 this weekend, team sporting director Chris Dyson landed a ride in Sunday’s World Endurance Championship six hour race. Dyson joins Christian Zugel in the Oak Racing Morgan-Nissan …
Circuit of The Americas kicks off the race weekend on Thursday with a panel of experts in automotive technology and green racing. Fans can learn about the development of the Green Racing Protocols used by the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón and the FIA World Endurance Championship from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the Circuit’s Velocity Lounge. Other topics of discussion will include the technology that powers vehicles such as the Le Mans-winning diesel-electric hybrid Audi R18 e-tron quattro, the Toyota TS030 hybrid, or the revolutionary DeltaWing that uses half as much fuel as its competitors …
M.K. Ducote, wife of BAR1 Motorsports driver Chapman Ducote, recently penned a novel entitled Naked Paddock. The novel is based on life, love and the drama surrounding the adrenaline-fueled world of international motorsports …
Starworks Motorsport returns to the ALMS PC class this weekend with drivers Ryan Dalziel and John Pew. Pew competes with Michael Shank Racing in the GRAND-AM Rolex Series DP class. Regular driver Alex Popow will miss the race due to other commitments.
Nearly One-Third Of ALMS Field Has Prior Experience At New Austin Circuit
Even though it’s a new circuit – operational for less than one year – 21 of the 64 drivers competing in this weekend’s race have prior experience at Circuit of The Americas – the 26th venue contested by the ALMS.
Bill Auberlen is a two-time winner at the circuit, capturing both the Rolex Series GT class and an overall triumph in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge event in April. Other ALMS drivers to win at Austin include Madison Snow, who won the non-championship IMSA GT3 Cup race in 2012, and Scott Tucker, who won the Gold class race from the pole. Tucker also finished eighth and ninth in the 2012 Ferrari Challenge races.
During the GRAND-AM weekend, Ryan Dalziel finished second in DP, Andy Lally second in GT, Tristan Nunez third in GX, Patrick Long fourth in GT and Spencer Pumpelly third in CTSCC GS.
Other ALMS regulars competing that weekend included Anthony Lazzaro, fifth in GT; Bryan Sellers, sixth in CTSCC GS; Mike Hedlund and Johannes van Overbeek, seventh in GT; Dane Cameron, eighth in DP; Jon Bennett, ninth in DP; and Kyle Marcelli and Dion von Moltke, ninth in GT. John Edwards finished 10th in 2013 Continental GS and 15th in 2013 Rolex GT.
Cooper MacNeil took fourth-place finishes in both 2012 non-championship Ferrari Challenge races.
Duncan Ende finished fifth in 2013 SCCA World Challenge GT race two after finishing seventh in Race 1. Jeff Courtney finished seventh and 10th in the 2013 SCCA World Challenge GT races, with Hedlund taking 15th in both races.
Henrique Cisneros was Fast Qualifier for the 2012 IMSA GT3 Cup race.
Corvette Racing’s Milner Looks Forward To First Race In Austin
Tommy Milner, driver of the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6 ZR1, talked about his impressions of racing at the new Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas for the first time.
“The facility is probably the best in the United States. With catering to the F1 crowd, it’s fun for us to go and race on that track. Everything about it is first-class, and it’s a joy to be there. From all the comfort side, it’s all great. As far as the track goes, it’s also a challenging venue and one that’s fun to drive. There is lots and lots of elevation change. From nearly every perspective, it’s a great track.
“We don’t know how it is going to race yet. We had two LMP cars that ran with us when we tested there last year and got some indication as to what the traffic will be like. There may be some areas where it will be tough to let faster cars go by. But that’s part of the challenge. We have some baseline to go off of, so we’re a little ahead of the game compared to some of our competitors. Hopefully it gives us a little bit of an edge and advantage once the race begins.”
TUDOR United SportsCar Championship To Launch In 2014
Another major step toward the revitalization of North American sports car racing in 2014 took place last week when TUDOR was named entitlement partner for what will now be known as the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
The announcement of the five-year agreement in Chicago preceded TUDOR’s official U.S. launch during New York Fashion Week.
TUDOR, an innovative and retro-chic watch brand owned by Rolex, was established by Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf in 1946.
The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship extends ties of the prestigious Swiss watchmaking market to premier U.S. sports car racing dating back to 1959, when NASCAR Founder and IMSA Co-Founder Bill France Sr. and Rolex formed their initial relationship. Rolex will continue to serve as Title Sponsor of the annual Rolex 24 At Daytona, and Official Timepiece at Sebring International Raceway and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida.