BICESTER, England (January 12, 2000) -- With 750,000 Euros in purses, as well as start money for participants, the expanded European Le Mans Series is gearing for its Apr. 13-14 opener at England's Donnington Park. A dedicated staff of motorsports...
BICESTER, England (January 12, 2000) -- With 750,000 Euros in purses, as well as start money for participants, the expanded European Le Mans Series is gearing for its Apr. 13-14 opener at England's Donnington Park. A dedicated staff of motorsports professionals is busily tending to the details of preparation for a full season of sports car endurance racing.
The series will have an eight-race schedule in 2001, designed around the 24 Hours of Le Mans and a weekend of pre-qualifying for the historic and prestigious race in France. The ELMS schedule will include five races in Europe, two optional events in the United States and a special invitational event in Australia.
In addition to the Donnington Park event, the European events will include May 19-20 at Jarama, Spain; July 14-15 at Estoril, Portugal; Aug. 4-5 at Salzburgring in Austria; and Sept. 1-2 at Vallelunga in Italy. All European races will be 2:45 in length with the exception of Estoril, which will be 1,000 kilometers.
The optional American races will be the 12 Hours at Sebring on Mar. 17 and the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on Oct. 6. A travel package is available for teams wishing to compete in the American events. The Australian event will be at Adelaide on Dec. 2.
Just as in the American Le Mans Series, the ELMS will have four championship classes in 2001, including LMP 900, LMP 675, GTS and GT. Cars must comply with the Automobile Club De L'Ouest 2001 technical regulations.
All European events will be run over three days, with the first day including technical inspection and two hours of untimed practice. The second day will consist of one hour of practice, followed by two 30-minute qualifying sessions. One session will include the two Prototype classes, with the other session for the GTS and GT cars. A 30-minute warmup will be held on race day.
The race prize fund for the 2001 European rounds will be 150,000 Euros per race, which includes 10 percent per race to be moved to a Privateer Points Fund. Factory teams will not be eligible for prize money. There will be a start money fund for participants that compete in all European rounds of the championship at 5,000 Euros per car per race, with details to be announced soon.
The Privateer Point Fund will accrue at 15,000 Euros per race, plus any unpaid factory team prize money. To be eligible for the fund, teams must compete in at least five of the seven available ELMS races. A special point system will be used to track competitors during the season.
The ELMS office is located in Bicester near Oxford, England, which is in the heart of the U.K. motorsports industry.
ELMS Executive Director John Macdonald has been involved in motor racing most of his life, including operation of race teams and race series, as well as the operation of an engineering company. He ran the RAM F1 team in the late 70's and into the 80's, and was also team manager for Brabham F1. He also ran teams that competed in F3 and F3000, as well as in the British GT Championship. His race series experience has included running the Alfa 164 Celebrity Challenge and the FIA F3000 and Sportscar Championships.
Stuart Ralph, Director of Operations for the ELMS, was brought up in a motor racing environment. His father, Mick Ralph, was partners with Macdonald in the engineering company, and Stuart began running the racing sign department of the company in 1989. Through this time, he was in charge of the corporate identities that were being carried by the cars and worked closely with several outside major race teams. Due to working and traveling with the teams, he became involved in the day-to-day running of the teams and was deputy team manager for the British GT Championship project. He left the engineering company at the end of July to begin work on the ELMS.
Beckie Jones, Executive Assistant, is the third fulltime ELMS staff member. She has worked with Macdonald for many years in the engineering company, where she was in charge of the purchasing department as well as travel arrangements for the company directors. She joined the ELMS staff in September.