Top P2 teams take on Le Mans

INTERSPORT, MIRACLE ENTRIES ARMED FOR P2 BATTLE AT LE MANS Braselton, Ga. - Names like Champion Audi, Corvette, Aston Martin, Porsche and Panoz may be getting most of the attention at this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans. But two LMP2 entries from...

INTERSPORT, MIRACLE ENTRIES ARMED FOR P2 BATTLE AT LE MANS

Braselton, Ga. - Names like Champion Audi, Corvette, Aston Martin, Porsche and Panoz may be getting most of the attention at this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans. But two LMP2 entries from the American Le Mans Series are ready and waiting to make a splash on sports car racing's biggest stage.

On one hand, there's the No. 32 Intersport Racing AER-powered Lola B05/40. It posted the fastest time in class during Sunday's test session and is the same car has sat on the class pole at all three ALMS races so far this season. On the other hand is the No. 34 Miracle Motorsports Courage C65, which won the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March.

Those are pretty good pedigrees. And it's another reason why the ALMS could sweep all four classes of the 73rd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time. The Intersport and Miracle entries are two of 14 series teams entered in the world's greatest sports car race, which runs from June 18-19.

Gregor Fisken, Liz Halliday and Sam Hancock will drive the Intersport Lola at Le Mans. Hancock was at the wheel when he toured the 8.3-mile Circuit de la Sarthe in 3:44.426 on Sunday. It was Hancock's first time driving the car on the Le Mans course, and he said he felt comfortable from the moment he hit the track.

"Unlike a few of our rivals, we really weren't trying for times," said Hancock, last year's LMES champion in LMP2. "The car was about as far away from a qualifying set-up as it could ever be: high fuel load, fairly old, hard-compound tires ... we weren't even running our Le Mans aero-package."

Fisken, from the UK like Hancock, has experience in the car, having driven with Jon Field and Duncan Dayton at Sebring this year. Halliday, from California, has driven off and on with Intersport, having been part of the team that piloted the No. 30 Lola B2K/40 at Sebring.

"So far everyone's doing a really good job," Hancock said. "Lola has designed a beautiful car, the AER engine feels strong and the team's baseline setup is right on. Hopefully we'll also have a bit more support from Goodyear come race week, but I was pleased with their hard compound tire. I'm really feeling good about everything."

In the Miracle Courage, team owner John Macaluso, Andy Lally and Ian James, last year's ALMS LMP2 champion, will share driving duties. James drove last year for Miracle, which fielded the Courage at the last three events of the season.

It's the first time for everyone on the team to race at Le Mans. The closest Macaluso got to the track was last year when he bought the Miracle chassis from the Courage factory, based in the French town.

"To go there with an invitation and our own team to be a part of that spectacle is a dream," Macaluso said. "We've done 24-hour races for years. But in the end, it's still just a race. You have to prepare the car for things you expect to go wrong. The way I thought about Sebring put a great deal of pressure on us. Now you have the eyes of the world on you going to Le Mans. I've been waiting for 30 years to go there and don't want to have a bad experience going over there."

The car posted a time of 3:50.947 in its first session at Le Mans. "If we can finish the race, stay out of the pits as much as possible except for fuel, I believe we have a very good chance," Lally said. "The package is good and the drivers are good. As long as the car doesn't break and we keep our heads on our shoulders, we'll do OK."

Qualifying at Le Mans is scheduled for June 15-16. The 24 Hours of Le Mans will be broadcast on SPEED Channel starting at 10 a.m. EDT June 18. The next race for the American Le Mans Series is the New England Grand Prix, set for 3 p.m. July 4 at Lime Rock Park. The race will be broadcast live on SPEED (3 to 6 p.m. EDT) and on MotorsTV in Europe, reaching 40 million viewers in 21 countries as well as at www.americanlemans.com.

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Series ALMS
Drivers Duncan Dayton , Jon Field , Andy Lally , John Macaluso , Gregor Fisken , Liz Halliday , Sam Hancock