The Intercontinental Le Mans Cup is heading back to the United States. The Petit Le Mans, the sixth of the seven rounds on the 2011 calendar, is the second event on North American soil after the Sebring 12 Hours in March. The first titles of the season could be awarded at the end of the race.
The Silverstone 6 Hours on 11th September did not change the overall hierarchy in the different ILMC classifications. Quite the opposite in fact as the leaders left the British circuit with their positions reinforced. Thus, their pursuers have no room left for error if they want to retain their chances of winning the ILMC titles.
In the two blue riband ILMC classifications reserved for manufacturers, both Peugeot in LM P1 and Ferrari in LM GTE Pro could be crowned in the USA. The Italian make is faced with a more uphill task as it has only 20 points in hand over BMW, which never gives up. There are numerous scenarios to be taken into account for the Italian make to clinch the title at Road Atlanta, including not only the points scale, but also the extra points awarded for pole and the bonus for the longevity of engines. In theory, the French manufacturer’s task looks easier as it has a 45-point lead over Audi, and there are 58 still up for grabs (2x15 points for first place plus 2x13 for second and twice the pole position tally), so the Sochaux make is in a strong position. It has entered two 908s, one for the three drivers victorious in the last 2 rounds, Davidson-Bourdais-Pagenaud, and the other for Montagny-Sarrazin-Wurz while the Oreca team, the Sebring winners, is back with its 908 HDi FAP for Lapierre-Minassian-Gené. The French cars will be up against a brace of Audis whose driver line-ups have not yet been finalized, but will most probably include Kristensen-McNish and Bernhard-Fässler. The other teams in LM P1 will pounce on any mistakes by the leaders beginning with OAK Racing (third at Silverstone), and Aston Martin back with its works V12 Lola coupe, which won the American Le Mans Series round on the Laguna Seca circuit last Saturday, as well as the very quick Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyota coupes.
The works BMWs will be entered for the Petit Le Mans under the RLL Racing banner and not Schnitzer as in Europe. This team won the GTE title in the ALMS last Saturday. At the wheel of one of the two M3 GTs will be the Sebring-winning trio of Müller-Hand-Priaulx. The works Ferraris beginning with the Fisichella-Bruni F458 Italia GTC backed up by Pierre Kaffer will be up against tough opposition. BMW is determined to stack all the odds in its favour to win the titles in both the manufacturers’ and teams’ classifications.
In LM P2, Signatech-Nissan missed its first opportunity to clinch the title at Silverstone. The French team that currently leads the championship will have a tough job on its hands, despite its 26-point lead in the category with the return of Level 5 Motorsports, second in the teams’ ratings, which now has a Honda Performance ARX-01g. The American team came fourth at Laguna Seca on 17th September and will up the pressure on the French squad in the Petit Le Mans.
Larbre Competition looks like it has an easier job in LM GTE Am. Jack Leconte’s squad won the 2010 GT1 ILMC title. This year it has entered a Corvette, which tripped up at Silverstone just missing out on another podium finish. Its drivers Borhauser-Canal-Gardel are well placed with a 28-point lead over their nearest rivals Proton Competition and Krohn Racing, which will provide stiff opposition, especially the latter who is racing on home soil.