BRASELTON, GA. - The drivers of Team Bucknum Racing are relishing the chance to race in the newly-restructured LMP2 class of the American Le Mans Series, feeling that the Prototype class will provide unprecedented parity, close racing and a fight...
BRASELTON, GA. - The drivers of Team Bucknum Racing are relishing the chance to race in the newly-restructured LMP2 class of the American Le Mans Series, feeling that the Prototype class will provide unprecedented parity, close racing and a fight for the championship during the 2004 season.
The season begins with the 52nd annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway Mar. 17-20.
"It looks like there will be some real fighting in LMP2 this season," said Jeff Bucknum, driver and co-owner for Team Bucknum. "The off-season rule modifications are best for the series. It makes LMP1 more competitive, and makes LMP2 the class to watch. We're expecting a dog fight every step of the way."
As has been the case since Team Bucknum Racing joined the ALMS at the end of the 2001 season, the team will run three drivers in every race. Bucknum, from Lake Havasu City, Az., will be joined by co-drivers Chris McMurry of Phoenix and Bryan Willman of Kirkland, Wash. The team will also debut a new checkerboard look for its car at Sebring.
With the restructuring of the two Prototype classes of the American Le Mans Series for 2004, what had been known as the LMP 900 class has become LMP1 and will contain all of the cars that previously raced in both the LMP 900 and GTP classes. In addition, the more-sophisticated cars that had been in the LMP 675 class are now in the LMP1 class, including the Lola EX257-AER/MG cars of Dyson Racing and the Lola B160-Judd of Intersport Racing.
The Dyson and Intersport cars scored all nine LMP 675 class wins in the 2003 season, with the Dyson team making history at Infineon Raceway by beating the more-powerful cars of the higher Prototype class for the overall win in the Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma. Now, however, the Dyson and Intersport cars will be going head-to-head with such cars as the Audi R8 for overall and LMP1 class wins in every race.
Team Bucknum Racing will campaign a Pilbeam MP91 in the LMP2 class, seeking a return to victory circle in the ALMS for the first time since it won three times in 2002. The Pilbeam will race against a slew of Lola B2K/40 machines, most powered by Nissan engines. The lone exception will be the Judd-powered entry from Intersport, driven by Clint Field and Bill Binnie.
Bucknum is very optimistic about his team's chances against the Lolas, many of which are fielded by teams new to the smaller Prototype class. "There wasn't a race in 2003 when a non-Lola/MG LMP 675 turned quicker lap times than us," he said. "You can't replace track time and experience, and we hope to put ours to good use this season."