AN EARLY LOOK AT THE REGULATION FOR THE 2010 AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES
The first wave of 2010 rule additions and modifications for the American Le Mans Series' prototypes and GT classes were recently sent to competitors by IMSA, the Series' sanctioning body. Key focus areas were safety, pit stops and refueling, performance, leader lights and class distinctions and LMP points distribution.
Helmets, fire suits and restraint systems for both drivers and crew members are central points in the initial listing of regulations. All drivers in the LMP and LMPC classes will wear the same helmets worn in the Formula 1 World Championship among other FIA-sanctioned events.
In addition, IMSA will require drivers in each American Le Mans Series class to have the Eject Helmet Removal kit installed in their helmets. The device allows EMTs and first-responders to remove a helmet without adding any pressure or traction to the neck or spine which can cause secondary spinal injuries to an injured driver. The use of the HANS (Head and Neck Support) device remains mandatory.
Regarding firesuits, IMSA continues to follow FIA guidelines in regard to clothing worn by drivers and over-the-wall pit crews. They include two- layer suits or a single-layer suit with Nomex underwear that meets FIA or SFI specifications.
Pit Stops and Refueling
The rules governing pit stops for LMP and GT classes will remain the same as 2009 - primarily two tire-changers (each with an air gun) and two tire- carriers are allowed over the wall once the car has been refueled. Regulations for the two Challenge classes are still being finalized but there will be significant differences in both personnel and procedure from the LMP and GT classes. Among them include crew members permitted over the wall and equalization measures for GTC class pit stop time based on the configuration of the entry.
IMSA anticipates that the rules and adjustments in place at the end of 2009 will carryover to the 2010 season for LMP and GT, although the full release of the 2010 ACO regulations may factor into the final decision.
For GTC, three variants of Porsche's 911 GT3 Cup racer are eligible: the 2010-spec car and 2008 and 2009 models that are currently eligible in other North American championships. The performances of the older model Porsches will be balanced relative to the 2010 version, which will serve as the baseline.
All GTC cars will compete on the same Yokohama tires that are used in the Patrón GT3 Challenge by Yokohama, one of IMSA's leading developmental championships. A maximum of 10 GTC cars will race on any given American Le Mans Series weekend. IMSA will determine the final specifications for the GT Challenge class at the annual Sebring Winter Test.
IMSA also is establishing three levels of driver classification for the Challenge classes. The groups are based on level of success and experience, age and other factors within the FIA's licensing procedures. There also will be certain combinations of drivers allowed in Challenge entries, based on the group under which a driver falls.
Leader Lights and Class Distinctions
The American Le Mans Series will continue its pioneering use of its Leader Lights system - established in 2002 - in the LMP and GT classes. The latter will continue to display yellow LED lights to signify the top-three leaders in the class. LMPs will use blue Leader Lights except at Sebring and Petit Le Mans, where the standard colors - red for LMP1 and blue for LMP2 - will be in place.
Challenge entries will have red markings on their rear-wing endplates and mirrors, as well as upper roll hoops (LMPC) and windscreens (GTC).
As has been the case in the past, only full-season entrants are eligible for points in American Le Mans Series events. Prototype teams will count all points earned at Sebring and Petit Le Mans - which will award points in LMP1 and LMP2 - toward the single 2010 LMP championship.
Display of Series logo
Effective in March, all transporters will carry an American Le Mans Series logo. In addition, new number plates for each entry will feature the logo with white numbers set against a background that corresponds with each class' corresponding colors.
The American Le Mans Series will open its 12th season with America's greatest sports car race, the 58th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida from March 17-20. The green flag will fall at 10:35 a.m. on Saturday, March 20 with live coverage on SPEED.
The annual American Le Mans Series Winter Test is scheduled for February 22- 23, also at Sebring International Raceway.