Sebring 12-Hour event taking on additional importance. BRASELTON, Ga. - The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the race that will open the 2004 season for the American Le Mans Series March 17-20, has taken on added importance for sports car racing...
Sebring 12-Hour event taking on additional importance.
BRASELTON, Ga. - The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the race that will open the 2004 season for the American Le Mans Series March 17-20, has taken on added importance for sports car racing teams that want to compete in the 2004 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), organizer of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, has announced that the Selection Committee for the famed endurance race will choose the final 22 teams for the event after the running of the Sebring race. Therefore, many European-based teams that want to audition for a Le Mans selection are now planning to race at Sebring, creating even more international interest in the Sebring event.
"We are expecting another large, world-class field of professional sports car racing teams in all four classes at Sebring," said Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the American Le Mans Series. "Some exciting cars and teams from Europe that are vying for Le Mans invitations have already contacted us about entering Sebring and are welcome additions. For the past several years, only teams that have competed at Sebring have performed well at Le Mans and as a result, all of the teams realize that the Road to Le Mans passes through Sebring."
Fifty cars, as well as some reserves, are chosen each year by the ACO to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and 28 have already earned spots through results achieved in various qualifying events and championships. Because of the special relationship that exists between the ACO and the American Le Mans Series, teams that regularly compete in ALMS events receive special consideration in the selection process. In addition, the ALMS championship teams from all four classes and the winning entrants in the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta earn automatic invitations to Le Mans.
Champion Racing (LMP 900), Intersport Racing (LMP 675), Prodrive (GTS) and Alex Job Racing (GT) earned invitations by winning their respective classes in the Petit Le Mans, while Infineon Team Joest (LMP 900), Dyson Racing (LMP 675), Corvette Racing (GTS) and Risi Competizione earned invitations based on the 2003 team championship standings in the ALMS.
Among the European-based teams expected to compete at Sebring to vie for Le Mans invitations are Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx, Rollcentre Racing with a former ORECA Dallara and possibly the DBA4-03S of Creation Autosportif, all in the Prototype class. Factory GT class efforts from Morgan and Spyker, as well as the new GTS Barron Connor Ferrari team featuring former Indianapolis 500 winner Danny Sullivan are also expected.
In the five years that the American Le Mans Series has existed, the overall winning team in the 24 Hours of Le Mans has been a regular in ALMS competition four times, and has competed at Sebring each year. In addition, teams from the ALMS have scored numerous class wins at Le Mans in the past five seasons, including three in 2003. The 24 Hours of Le Mans will be run June 12-13 at the Circuit de La Sarthe.
Atherton said that up to 60 cars can start the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and that the IMSA Selection Committee would select the 60 from entries received.
The 52nd annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring will get the green flag at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 20, and will be televised live from flag-to-flag by the Speed Channel. The American Le Mans Series Radio Web will have live coverage online at www.americanlemans.com.
Ticket information is available online at www.sebringraceway.com or by calling (863) 655-1442 (toll-free 800-626-RACE).