Intersport Team 'locked and loaded' to pursue two championships in American Le Mans Series. BRASELTON, Ga. - The Ohio-based Intersport Racing Team, one of the most successful privateer sports car racing teams of the past five years, is "locked...
Intersport Team 'locked and loaded' to pursue two championships in American Le Mans Series.
BRASELTON, Ga. - The Ohio-based Intersport Racing Team, one of the most successful privateer sports car racing teams of the past five years, is "locked and loaded" for an assault on two class championships in the 2004 American Le Mans Series season, team owner Jon Field has announced.
The Intersport team will campaign two cars in the full nine-race series in pursuit of championships in both the LMP1 and LMP2 classes, the two Prototype classes in the professional sports car racing series. The chase begins in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Mar. 17-20.
In addition to the full ALMS schedule, the team will run both cars in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June and in a Le Mans Endurance Series race at Monza, Italy, in May.
"We're locked and loaded and ready to go," said Field, of Dublin, Ohio, who won a driving championship in the ALMS in 2002 and will co-drive with Duncan Dayton of North Salem, N.Y., for the LMP1 title run. The two finished second in the 2003 driver standings for the LMP 675 class. "We've never been this ready and this prepared at this point of a season before and it means a lot when you're trying to win championships."
The biggest difference heading into the 2004 season, Field said, is that the team has its full-season driving lineups set, something it has never been able to do in past seasons. Previously, the team used different drivers for different races, sometimes making deals with drivers as late as the opening day of practice for an event.
"Knowing our drivers for the whole season now is a huge change for the better for us," said Clint Field, Jon's son, and co-driver of the team's LMP2 effort with series newcomer Bill Binnie of Portsmouth, N.H. "Instead of having to adjust from race to race, we can now concentrate on making the car fast and comfortable for the same drivers, and there's continuity."
Jon Field and Dayton, who combined for three class wins in the ALMS in 2003, will share the cockpit of the team's Lola B160-Judd in the LMP1 class, while Clint Field and Binnie will drive a new Lola B2K/40-Judd in the LMP2 class. Larry Connor of Centerville, Ohio, and Rick Sutherland of Los Gatos, Calif., will join the team as driver for longer races such as Sebring, Le Mans, Monza and the Petit Le Mans. Connor will drive with Jon Field and Dayton, while Sutherland will drive with Clint Field and Binnie. Though the cars are in different classes, the team will use the same type of Judd engine in both cars, also providing consistency.
The team will run a third car, a Riley & Scott MkIIIC, in the Sebring race. Mike Durand of Wayland, Mass., will be one of the drivers, with others to be named. The car may also see action in other events later in the season.
The Jon Field-Dayton team will battle for overall race wins this season in the LMP1 class, which combines what had been called LMP 900 with the more sophisticated cars of what had been the LMP 675 class. Intersport's Lola B160 raced in the LMP 675 class the past two years, scoring three wins in each season.
"It's going to be a new challenge for us," said Jon Field. "But we feel that we've grown as a team and as drivers, and that the car is capable of overall wins. The changes we made to the car before the Petit Le Mans last year, allowing us to run the Judd engines, has made a big difference in reliability, and that's what you need for long races."
The Intersport team earned an automatic selection for the 24 Hours of Le Mans by scoring a class win in last year's Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, the final race of the ALMS season, and earned another automatic selection in the inaugural Le Mans Endurance Series race last November at the Bugatti Circuit in France.
For the LMP2 effort, the team has taken possession of a never-raced Lola B2K/40, the last such car built by Lola. Clint Field, 20, will be in his third full season of ALMS racing in 2004.
"I'm excited about getting to race in the new car and go for the championship," he said. "And having Bill as a co-driver all season is going to be a plus. He's new to the ALMS, but he has a lot of experience and will be an asset to the team.
"We're also excited about being able to run the Judd engines," he said. "We feel that we'll have one of the most powerful engines in the LMP2 class this year."
Binnie, 45, an American citizen originally from Scotland, has been racing for more than 20 years, much of it in Europe. He was a class champion in the Ferrari/Shell Historic Championship four consecutive years and raced professionally for Lotus in European sports car endurance races in 2001 and 2002. He also has extensive historic car racing experience in both North America and Europe and has competed in rally events such as Monte Carlo and Peking to Paris.
"I've known the Intersport Team for a long time and I've been looking for an opportunity to race in the ALMS," said Binnie. "This is a great chance with a competitive team and I hope to make the most of it."