Sears Point: Race preview

SONOMA, Calif. (May 12, 2002) – With drivers and racing teams keen to return to action, the 2002 American Le Mans Series season will resume when the series makes its fourth annual appearance at California’s Sears Point Raceway for the Grand...

SONOMA, Calif. (May 12, 2002) – With drivers and racing teams keen to return to action, the 2002 American Le Mans Series season will resume when the series makes its fourth annual appearance at California’s Sears Point Raceway for the Grand Prix of Sonoma presented by Fosters on Sunday, May 19.

The sleek and exotic sports cars of the series have not raced in North America since the season opened with the Sebring 12-hour event in March. With many of the stars and cars of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the field, the series will run a two-hour, 45-minute timed event at Sears Point beginning at 1 p.m. (PDT).

American Le Mans Series races feature four classes of race cars, all competing at the same time for both class wins and the overall win. The speed difference between the ultra-fast and sophisticated Prototype race cars and the smaller GT cars creates a great deal of passing as well as many thrilling moments for drivers and fans. All cars have at least two drivers and will make at least one driver change during the race.

The powerful Audi Sport North America team, winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans the past two years, will also be looking for its third straight win in ALMS competition at Sears Point. Drivers Frank Biela, Rinaldo Capello and defending ALMS champion Emanuele Pirro will drive a factory-backed Audi R8 Prototype. Another Audi entered by Champion Racing will be co-driven by former Formula One star Johnny Herbert along with Andy Wallace and Tom Kristensen.

The three-car Panoz Motor Sports team will feature an All-American driver lineup of former CART star Bryan Herta and road racing veteran Bill Auberlen in one car, and Americans David Donohue and Gunnar Jeannette in another Prototype. The third team car will be steered by international stars David Brabham and Jan Magnussen.

Also driving a Prototype will be Milka Duno of Venezuela, the only female driver who regularly competes in the ALMS.

Corvette Racing, which won the GTS class in last year’s Sears Point event with drivers Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connell, will be back to defend its title. The two-car team will battle against attacking Dodge Vipers, Saleen S7R Supercars and a newcomer to ALMS racing, the Ferrari 550 Maranello.

The GT class will be a wide-open affair among several Porsche 911 GT3 RS machines, including the Sonoma-based Racers Group team. Kevin Buckler of nearby Novato, Calif., heads the driving lineup for the team, which will be seeking its first ALMS win. The two-car Alex Job Racing team will seek to back up its win in March at Sebring with a Sears Point score.

The newest ALMS class, the LMP 675 class for smaller, less-powerful Prototypes, will see the Sears Point debut of the highly-regarded MG Lola. The fast and nimble British machine will be fielded by American teams KnightHawk Racing and Intersport and many observers feel that the car could challenge for the overall win on the twisting, undulating Sears Point circuit.

ALMS cars will test the circuit for the first time on Friday, May 17, with official practice and qualifying to be held on Saturday, May 18.

Ticket information is available online at www.searspoint.com or by calling the Sears Point Raceway ticket office at 1-800-870-RACE. The race will be televised live by the SPEED Channel beginning at 4 p.m. (EDT). Live coverage by the American Le Mans Series Radio Web can be heard online at www.imsaracing.net.

ENTRY LIST

LMP 900 (Prototype) Class
1 Emanuele Pirro, Italy; Rinaldo Capello, Italy; Frank Biela, Germany; Audi Sport North America, Audi R8.
16 James Weaver, England; Chris Dyson, Pleasant Valley, N.Y.; Dyson Racing; Riley & Scott MkIIIA-Lincoln.
17 Milka Duno, Venezuela; Scott Maxwell, Canada; MBD Sportscar; Panoz LMP07-Mugen.
18 Didier de Radigues, Belgium; John Graham, Canada; MBD Sportscar; Panoz LMP07-Mugen.
30 Clint Field, Dublin, Ohio; Mark Neuhaus, Sun Valley, Id.; Intersport; Lola B2K10-Judd.
38 Johnny Herbert, England; Andy Wallace, England; Tom Kristensen, Denmark; Champion Racing; Audi R8.
49 Gunnar Jeannette, West Palm Beach, Fla.; David Donohue, Malvern, Penn.; Panoz Motor Sports; Panoz LMP-1.
50 David Brabham, Australia; Jan Magnussen, Denmark; Panoz Motor Sports; Panoz LMP-1.
51 Bryan Herta, Valencia, Calif.; Bill Auberlen, Hermosa Beach, Calif.; Panoz Motor Sports; Panoz LMP-1.

LMP 675
11 Steve Knight, Castle Rock, Col.; Mel Hawkins, Scottsdale, Az.; Chad Block, York, Penn.; KnightHawk Racing; Lola EX257-MG.
13 Ben Devlin, England; Dave McEntee, Novato, Calif.; Archangel Motorsports; Lola B2k-Nissan.
37 Jon Field, Dublin, Ohio; Rick Sutherland, Los Gatos, Calif.; Intersport; Lola EX257-MG.
55 Chris McMurry, Phoenix; Bryan Willman, Kirkland, Wash.; Team Bucknum Racing; Pilbeam MP84-Nissan.
56 Jeff Bucknum, Lake Havasu City, Az.; second driver TBA; Team Bucknum Racing; Pilbeam MP84-Nissan.
62 Dennis Spencer, Denver, Col.; Rich Grupp, Decatur, Ga.; Team Spencer Motorsports; Lola B2K-Mazda.

GTS
0 Emanuele Naspetti, Italy; Mimmo Schiattarella, Italy; Team Olive Garden; Ferrari 550 Maranello.
3 Ron Fellows, Canada; Johnny O’Connell, Flowery Branch, Ga.; Corvette Racing; Chevrolet Corvette C5-R.
4 Andy Pilgrim, Aventura, Fla.; Kelly Collins, Corona del Mar, Calif.; Corvette Racing; Chevrolet Corvette C5-R.
26 Franz Konrad, Germany; Terry Borcheller, Phoenix; Konrad Motorsports; Saleen S7R.
44 Tom Weickardt, Whitefish Bay, Wis.; Marc Bunting, Monkton, Md.; American Viperacing; Dodge Viper GTS-R.
45 Rick Fairbanks, Greenville, S.C.; Shane Lewis, Jupiter, Fla.; American Viperacing; Dodge Viper GTS-R.

GT
22 Timo Bernhard, Germany; Jorge Bergmeister, Germany; Alex Job Racing; Porsche 911 GT3 RS.
23 Lucas Luhr, Germany; Sascha Maassen, Germany; Alex Job Racing; Porsche 911 GT3 RS.
31 Johnny Mowlem, England; Randy Pobst, Melbourne, Fla.; Petersen Motorsports; Porsche 911 GT3 RS.
42 Gary Schultheis, Boca Raton, Fla.; Tony Kester, Beverly Shores, Ind.; Orbit; Porsche 911 GT3 RS.
43 Leo Hindery, Hillsborough, Calif.; Peter Baron, San Mateo, Calif.; Orbit; Porsche 911 GT3 RS.
52 Philip Collin, Park Ridge, Ill.; Tony Burgess, Canada; Hugh Plumb, Chadds Ford, Penn.; Seikel Motorsport; Porsche 911 GT3 R.
66 Kevin Buckler, Novato, Calif.; Marino Franchitti, Scotland; The Racers Group; Porsche 911 GT3 RS.
67 Vic Rice, San Rafael, Calif.; second driver TBA; The Racers Group; Porsche 911 GT3 RS.
79 Justin Jackson, Buford, Ga.; Mike Fitzgerald, Fountain Hills, Az.; J3 Racing; Porsche 911 GT3 RS.
88 Peter Overing, Canada; Stephane Veilleux, Canada; Porschehaus Racing; Porsche 911 GT3 R.
89 Adam Merzon, Greenwich, Conn.; Robert Julien, Canada; Porschehaus Racing; Porsche 911 GT3 RS.
99 Larry Schumacher, Cincinnati, Ohio; David Murry, Atlanta; Schumacher Racing; Porsche 911 GT3 RS.

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Series ALMS
Drivers Andy Wallace , Milka Duno , Shane Lewis , Johnny Herbert , David Brabham , Rinaldo Capello , Didier de Radigues , Tom Kristensen , Jan Magnussen , Franz Konrad , Frank Biela , James Weaver , Bryan Herta , Ron Fellows , Andy Pilgrim , David Murry , Bill Auberlen , Ben Devlin , John Graham , Randy Pobst , Tony Burgess , Jon Field , Sascha Maassen , Kelly Collins , Lucas Luhr , Scott Maxwell , Kevin Buckler , Leo Hindery , Peter Baron , Tony Kester , Terry Borcheller , David Donohue , Gunnar Jeannette , Timo Bernhard , Marino Franchitti , Dave McEntee , Steve Knight , Clint Field , Stéphane Veilleux , Chris McMurry , Bryan Willman , Jeff Bucknum , Emanuele Naspetti , Mark Neuhaus , Rick Sutherland , Robert Julien , Dennis Spencer , Mimmo Schiattarella , Hugh Plumb , Johnny Mowlem , Adam Merzon , Rick Fairbanks , Marc Bunting , Vic Rice , Tom Weickardt , Justin Jackson , Corona del Mar , Alex Job , Chris Dyson , Rich Grupp , Emanuele Pirro
Teams Corvette Racing , Dyson Racing , Alex Job Racing