Series notes of interest

** ALMS TEAMS TO BE BUSY -- Although the American Le Mans Series will not have another race in North America until July, race teams will be busy racing and testing over the coming months. Many ALMS teams will compete in the ...

** ALMS TEAMS TO BE BUSY -- Although the American Le Mans Series will not have another race in North America until July, race teams will be busy racing and testing over the coming months. Many ALMS teams will compete in the inaugural race of the new European Le Mans Series on Apr. 14 at England's Donington Park. The event is one of two optional European races for ALMS teams this year, with the possibility of points earned in the event replacing a lower finish in one of the nine scheduled North American races in the final series standings. On May 6, ALMS teams that plan to compete in this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans will be at the famed French racing circuit for event practice. A few weeks later, many ALMS teams will compete in the May 20 ELMS race at Jarama, Spain. The Spanish event is the second "optional" event for ALMS teams this year. All focus will then return to Le Mans for the June 16-17 running of the world's most famous endurance race. The next North American race will be on July 22 at Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.

Two days after winning the Superflo 12 Hours At Sebring, the Audi team ran another 12 hours on the 3.7-mile Sebring circuit as a test for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. If a recent trend continues, the Sebring-winning Audi will be the favorite to win Le Mans. In both 1999 and 2000, the team that captured the Sebring checkered flag also went on to win Le Mans. Drivers Rinaldo Capello, Michele Alboreto and Laurent Aiello were the Sebring winners in the #1 Infineon Audi R8.

In the road racing off-season, many observers predicted that Team Corvette would have an easy time this year in the GTS class of the American Le Mans Series. Much of that prediction was based upon the departure of Team ORECA, the French group that had been so successful in 1999 and 2000 with the Dodge Viper. Events this past weekend at Sebring showed that competition in the GTS class will be hot in 2001. The two-car Corvette team had become formidable competition for Team ORECA, which is now preparing a Chrysler Prototype and will be in action later this year. Corvette halted ORECA's winning streak last year and scored two victories. But now, a new challenger has emerged in the GTS class in the form of the Saleen S7R. The privateer Konrad team beat the two-car factory Corvette team in last week's Superflo 12 Hours At Sebring, the first win in the ALMS for the American-built Saleen in only its second race. The car, run by the factory Saleen/Allen Speedlab team, made its debut last October in the ALMS race at California's Laguna Seca Raceway. The Konrad team will compete in the European Le Mans Series race at England's Donington Park on Apr. 14 and will then attempt to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. After Le Mans, the team will return to the United States and will compete in the remaining ALMS events. The Saleen/Allen Speedlab team is also expected to field a Saleen S7R in ALMS races after Le Mans.

Canada's Mosport International Raceway has announced that ticket prices for its events in 2001 will remain unchanged from the 2000 season. The road racing circuit located near Toronto in Bowmanville, Ontario, will host a race for the American Le Mans Series on Aug. 19. Advance sale Superticket prices for the event are $45, with prices in effect until Aug. 15. All Mosport events provide free admission to children ages 12 and under when they are accompanied by an adult. "Mosport has been able to place a cap on our event admission," said Myles Brandt, Executive Raceway Director. "Through due diligence and the support of our increasing list of sponsors, we've been able to continue offering race fans unprecedented access at affordable prices."

Several American Le Mans Series race teams made announcements about their plans for the 2001 season last week at Sebring. A recap of the announcements: ** Two-time Sebring winner Eric van de Poele was announced as the fourth driver for the two-car effort by Dick Barbour Racing in the new LMP 675 class. He will co-drive with fellow Belgian Didier des Radigues beginning with the Apr. 14 race at England's Donington Park. The team will field a pair of Reynard 01 Q-Judd race cars and will compete for the ALMS championship. The other car will be driven by Milka Duno of Venezuela, a driver on the former Women's Global GT Series, and Canadian John Graham, the LMP 675 class winner at Le Mans last year. "I've enjoyed working with the world's best sports car and endurance drivers over the years, and I've just added another to that list," said Barbour. "Eric brings us a special level of talent and experience in the Prototype category, and we are happy to have him on board. We are ready to begin working with Reynard and Engine Developments to show everybody what the true potential of the LMP 675 category can be." ** Scott Pruett, an American racing veteran with a diverse background, has joined Team Corvette to replace the departing Chris Kneifel. Kneifel is leaving driving to become the chief steward for the CART FedEx Championship Series. Pruett, 41, got into the seat of one of the Chevrolet Corvette C5-R's immediately after last weekend's Sebring race as the team stayed at the circuit for two days of testing. Pruett's racing resume contains wins and two championships in the Trans-Am Series (1987 and 1994) as well as two championships in the old IMSA GTO class (1986 and 1988). He was also the IMSA GT Endurance champion in 1986. In recent years, Pruett was a regular in CART, where he won two races, and spent the 2000 season racing on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. "We are pleased to be able to get a proven champion like Scott," said Doug Fehan, Corvette Program Manager. "Scott has ample experience in endurance racing and cars in Corvette's classification to be an immediate contributor to the success of Corvette racing." -ALMS

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Series ALMS
Drivers Milka Duno , Rinaldo Capello , Chris Kneifel , Laurent Aiello , Scott Pruett , Eric van de Poele , John Graham , Dick Barbour , Michele Alboreto