NINE SERIES TEAMS AMONG EARLY LE MANS INVITEES

Eleven entries and nine teams from the American Le Mans Series received automatic invitations to next year's running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Automobile Club de l'Ouest announced the first 29 entries for the June 13-14 endurance classic, the most prestigious race in the world.

American Le Mans Series class champions each earn automatic bids to the following year's running of Le Mans, as do class winners of the 1,000-mile/10-hour Petit Le Mans. In addition the top two class finishers at Le Mans and in the European-based Le Mans Series championship, as well as the winner of the Michelin Energy Endurance Challenge and FIA GT championship, are granted invitations the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Audi Sport North America received the maximum of two invitations after winning overall at Le Mans for the second year in a row and at Petit Le Mans for the third straight season. Dindo Capello and Allan McNish were victorious in both races; they teamed with Tom Kristensen at Le Mans and Emanuele Pirro at Road Atlanta.

Intersport Racing also was awarded an automatic entry due to its second-place finish behind Audi in the P1 championship. Intersport was the class winner at Detroit and last competed at Le Mans in 2006.

Penske earned a pair of invitations from LMP2. Penske Racing captured the class championship for the third consecutive season with Penske Motorsports winning in class at Petit Le Mans.

In GT1, Corvette Racing also earned two entries with its eighth consecutive Series championship and seventh Petit Le Mans victory. GM's factory road racing team has finished second in class the last two years at Le Mans and has five victories at the 24 Hours since 2001.

Bell Motorsports was part of the initial invitation list after placing second in the GT1 championship behind Corvette Racing.

Risi Competizione will have the opportunity to defend its GT2 victory at Le Mans, and winning Petit Le Mans gave the team a second berth. One of Flying Lizard Motorsports' rewards for winning its first Series GT2 title is another invitation to Le Mans. Porsche's lead team in America has been to Le Mans each season since 2005.

Risi Competizione will have the opportunity to defend its GT2 victory at Le Mans, and winning Petit Le Mans gave the team a second berth. One of Flying Lizard Motorsports' rewards for winning its first Series GT2 title is another invitation to Le Mans. Porsche's lead team in America has been to Le Mans each season since 2005.

In 10 seasons since its inception, the competitive impact of the American Le Mans Series on the 24 Hours of Le Mans has been significant. In addition to eight overall victories, the Series has claimed a total of 24 class championships in the world's most famous auto race.

Teams must confirm their entry by January 12. They are not permitted to use automatic invitations in a different class. The Le Mans Test Day is Sunday, May 31.

-credit: alms