Series news 2009-01-27

Media Day at the American Le Mans Series' Winter Test was chock full of announcements and new content for the 2009 season. Between new corporate partners, teams, associations and other prominent features, there is no doubt that the Series is...

Media Day at the American Le Mans Series' Winter Test was chock full of announcements and new content for the 2009 season. Between new corporate partners, teams, associations and other prominent features, there is no doubt that the Series is keen to build on the success of the 2008 season.

Series President and CEO Scott Atherton gave his thoughts and insights into the 2009 season.

He covered a number of different topics including Green Racing, manufacturer participation and the Series' brand and platform. He also helped unveil the American Le Mans Series' newest corporate partner.

"The platform and branding remains unchanged," Atherton said.

"If there was ever a time to stay the course, this is it. We are real, we are upscale and we will not apologize for the form of motorsport we represent. There is substance that will make a difference. It is worthy of investment. We will not lift."

BMW and Rahal Letterman Racing discussed their new partnership that is seeing the first paces of the new M3 race car in GT2.

"We are very proud to return to the American Le Mans Series," said BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team owner Bobby Rahal, "and to have finally put this program together with BMW. For me, as a driver and team owner, I want to thank BMW for its commitment and providing us with a great driver lineup and car."

Honda Performance Development president Erik Berkman stressed the importance of championship form in both LMP1 (a new class for Acura) as well as LMP2. The brand new ARX-02a has gained a tremendous amount of attention as it will make its debut in P1 at the 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida.

"The concept of our (P1) car has become clear," Berkman said. "How do you fight with the diesels with a petrol powered car? You have to do something different and that is out of the box. We came up with the idea of putting rear tires on the front of the cars. We said that's what we have to do. There is so much about this car that we don't know yet. It truly is a learning experience."

Dyson Racing and Mazda also discussed their progressing 2009 program. America's leading independent sports car team will field a pair of new Mazda-powered Lola B09/86 coupes for the full season.

"We have been building a great friendship with Mazda since 2005; it was always a question of not if but when we would get together," said Chris Dyson, team driver as well team VP and Sporting Director "There is a lot of commonalities and shared values with Dyson Racing and Mazda."

Patrick Long and Jorg Bergmeister are hoping to recreate their GT2 championship-winning magic in 2009 with Flying Lizard Motorsports. The partnership yielded eight class victories and three combined championships from 2005 to 2006.

"We are really close friends," Bergmeister said. "It's always good being paired together. I'm looking forward to gaining even more success with the new car." The American Le Mans Series' Winter Test concludes Wednesday at Sebring.

The American Le Mans Series will open its 11th season with the 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida on Saturday, March 21. SPEED will televise the race live from 10 a.m. to noon and 2-11 p.m. ET. Live Timing & Scoring and American Le Mans Radio will be available at americanlemans.com.

-credit: alms

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