ALMS teams with automatic Le Mans invites

AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES TEAMS FEATURED PROMINENTLY IN INITIAL 2006 LE MANS FIELD Braselton, Ga. - One of the great rewards of winning the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, recognized as one of the world's great endurance classics, is grabbing the...

AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES TEAMS FEATURED PROMINENTLY IN INITIAL 2006 LE MANS FIELD

Braselton, Ga. - One of the great rewards of winning the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, recognized as one of the world's great endurance classics, is grabbing the attention of the Automobile Club de l'Ouest, which sanctions and oversees the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The ACO recently announced its first 38 entrants for the 74th running of the historic race set for June 17-18. The American Le Mans Series was well represented. Eight U.S. teams were among those accepted with others expected to be named following the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 18.

"The tradition of these two races is unparalleled," said American Le Mans Series President and CEO Scott Atherton. "The similarities are uncanny in terms of the quality of world-class teams, prestigious manufacturers and elite drivers - all among the best in the world. It is gratifying that the ACO recognizes the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring as an exemplary test for the world's greatest drivers. There is nothing like the pageantry, tradition and excellence of Le Mans, and the 12 Hours of Sebring certainly represents the finest that sports car racing has to offer in this hemisphere."

Highlighting the ACO's first wave of announcements are three American Le Mans Series class champions from 2005 - Intersport Racing (LMP2), Corvette Racing (GT1) and Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing (GT2). Corvette, which placed 1-2 in the championship last year and won at Petit Le Mans (an automatic Le Mans qualifier), actually will field two teams. Corvette has won four of the last five years at Le Mans, and this year Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Jan Magnussen will attempt to make it three wins in a row. Last year Gavin and Beretta won the GT1 championship as well as Petit Le Mans, while teammates Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell finished second in both.

Intersport Racing captured the LMP2 championship with lead driver Clint Field. Two-time Le Mans champion Petersen/White Lightning won GT2 behind the hot shoes of Patrick Long and Jorg Bergmeister. Intersport won the LMP2 championship at Le Mans in 2004.

Other Series teams that have been selected to race at Le Mans are Binnie Motorsports (LMP2), Miracle Motorsports (LMP2), ACEMCO Motorsports (GT1) and Flying Lizard Motorsports (GT2). In addition, Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz, which will run the entire season in the American Le Mans Series, was chosen to compete as a Canadian entry since it is now operated by Multimatic out of Canada.

Other teams, including those from LMP1, are expected to be named in the ACO's next wave of announcements. A total of 79 cars applied for entry. The ACO likely will set the field at 50 with eight additional teams chosen as reserves should there be withdrawals prior to May 26.

Winners last year at Sebring that were included in the initial ACO announcement were LMP2 winner Miracle Motorsports, GT1 champ Aston Martin Racing and GT2 winner Petersen/White Lightning. Champion Racing, which captured LMP1 a year ago, is currently working with Audi Sport North America and Joest Racing on the worldwide debut of the Audi R10 turbo diesel for this year's Sebring race.

The American Le Mans Series begins its 2006 season with the 54th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The 12-hour endurance classic is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. EST on March 18 at Sebring International Raceway. It will be televised live on SPEED Channel in North America and MotorsTV in Europe. In addition, Greenlight-Television will distribute the race worldwide to more than 510 million households. American Le Mans Series Radio will have flag-to-flag coverage available at www.americanlemans.com, along with IMSA Live Timing & Scoring.

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About this article
Series ALMS , Le Mans
Drivers Jan Magnussen , Ron Fellows , Johnny O'Connell , Oliver Gavin , Jörg Bergmeister , Patrick Long , Olivier Beretta
Teams Corvette Racing , Multimatic Motorsports , Flying Lizard Motorsports