Notes of interest 2001-05-01

LE MANS TEST THIS WEEKEND -- American Le Mans Series teams that will be competing in June's 24 Hours of Le Mans are heading to France this week for Sunday's preliminary practice for the classic sports car endurance race. The 69th running of the ...

LE MANS TEST THIS WEEKEND -- American Le Mans Series teams that will be competing in June's 24 Hours of Le Mans are heading to France this week for Sunday's preliminary practice for the classic sports car endurance race. The 69th running of the event is set for June 16-17.

Since the Circuit de la Sarthe includes some public roads, the full circuit is rarely available other than during racing events. Therefore, the preliminary practice session presents the only opportunity that race teams will have to test before official practice for the event itself.

The preliminary practice session is almost like a mini event weekend, with teams going through scrutineering on Friday and Saturday before a full day on the circuit on Sunday. Cars will be on the track from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., with a one-hour lunch break.

One major change for this year's preliminary practice is that cars from all classes will practice at the same time during the eight hours of running on Sunday. In the past, the faster Prototype cars practiced separately from the GTS and GT machines. The Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), organizers of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, will be timing cars all day during the session.

The race's 48 eligible cars have already been chosen by the ACO's Selection Committee and 21 of them are teams that compete or have competed in the ALMS on a regular basis.

The preliminary practice will see the highly-anticipated debut of the new Bentley Prototype, a GTP (closed-cockpit) machine. Bentley officials have indicated that the racer may journey to America later this year to compete in the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. Also debuting will be the new entry in the LMP 675 class fielded by MG.

JARAMA EVENT TO HAVE ALMS PARTICIPATION -- Following the practice session at Le Mans, many ALMS teams will leave their cars and equipment in Europe and will compete in the May 20 race for the European Le Mans Series at Circuito de Jarama near Madrid. Spain.

In addition to offering a final tune-up for the 24 Hours of Le Mans under racing conditions, the Jarama event is also the second of two ELMS races this year that are "optional" events for ALMS teams to earn points toward the ALMS title.

As was the case with the recent ELMS race at England's Donington Park, ALMS teams that compete at Jarama have the option of using the finish and points from Jarama to replace a poor finish in one of the nine rounds of the ALMS in North America. Teams can only use a finish from one of the two ELMS races.

The Alex Job Racing/McKenna Porsche team is expected to compete at Jarama, as is BMW Motorsport. The two teams will be battling all season for the GT class title in the ALMS. The two-car Audi Sport North America team will run its Audi R8 Prototypes at Jarama, and Panoz Motor Sports will run two Panoz LMP 07 machines.

More ALMS teams are expected to compete at Jarama and will announce plans as the event's entry deadline nears.

BAYER RACING IN GERMANY -- Sonja Bayer, the champion of the Women's Global GT Series in its final season last year, has landed a ride in Porsche Carrera Cup competition in her native Germany.

Bayer will drive for Team Knuepfing Motorsport in at least the first few events of the season, and more if additional sponsorship is found. In addition, she has a ride in the 24 Hours of Nurburgring in a Volvo S40.

Bayer competed in March's event for the Panoz GT Pro Series at Sebring International Raceway, finishing second in the GT class. She still has a goal of driving in American Le Mans Series events later this year.

QUICK NOTES -- Six American Le Mans Series cars will drive across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco on Wednesday, July 18, at 11 a.m., as a promotion for The X-Factor Grand Prix of Sonoma at nearby Sears Point Raceway on July 22 .... Tom Kristensen, driver of the Audi R8 Prototype, and Porsche GT pilot Sascha Maassen are the only two drivers who have won a race in all three years that the ALMS has existed .... Panoz Motor Sports has announced that Jamie Davies and Gary Formato will join regular Panoz pilot Klaus Graf as drivers for one of the team's Panoz LMP 07 cars in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Davies will replace Gualter Salles as Salles handles some personal business in his native Brazil that will keep him out of the cockpit at Le Mans.

-ALMS-

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Series ALMS
Drivers Gualter Salles , Tom Kristensen , Gary Formato , Klaus Graf , Jamie Davies , Sascha Maassen , Alex Job
Teams Alex Job Racing , CIP