American Le Mans Series Open-Cockpit Cars Back In Action At Long Beach
It has been four weeks since the last race and, to be honest, with this series, it seems as if an eternity of time has passed us by.
The American version of this multi-class, closed wheel, full body motorsports racing is the most advanced and difficult type of racing one can witness, or manage from a Race Control perch. Just ask the former ALMS and new Race Control director of the IZOD IndyCar Series, Beaux Barfield, or the gentleman who replaced him at ALMS/IMSA, Paul Walter.
A total of 35 cars racing in five configuration classes – LMP1, LMP2, LMPC, GT, & GTC – are set for the Tequila Patrón American Le Mans Series at Long Beach. This level of competition ties the 2010 field and represents the largest of any racing field at Long Beach in over 15 years.
One of the areas of interest that had the largest growth of teams and competitors for 2012 is the open-cockpit classes of LMP2 (4 cars – up from 2) and LMPC (9 cars – up from 4).
This excerpted and edited from ALMS –
ALMS Brings Full Field to Long Beach
Fresh off a record-setting season opener at Sebring, a full grid from the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón heads west to America’s premier street racing festival.
The ALMS grid features sexy, exotic prototype sports cars and the world’s best GT racers, ready to tackle the streets of Long Beach for a sixth consecutive year. There are 11 auto and chassis marques represented among the five classes … and that doesn’t count four tire manufacturers!
Purpose-built prototype cars – both open and closed-top – are featured in three ALMS classes.
The LMP2 (P2) grid continues to grow with four entries set for Long Beach. Level 5 Motorsports puts its unbeaten streak on the line with a pair of HPD prototypes. Team owner Scott Tucker drives both entries and teams with last year’s winning teammate Christophe Bouchut. The pair also won the Prototype Challenge at Long Beach in 2010.
Black Swan Racing and Conquest Endurance both have P2 entries on the grid at Long Beach. Black Swan races in the class for the first time at the event a season after it won the GT Challenge class. Its Lola-Honda is the one Level 5 drove to victory in 2011.
Conquest is a familiar face to Long Beach fans having fielded open-wheel entries for a number of years, but this season is the team’s first in sports cars. The team’s Morgan-Judd races on a street race for the first time this weekend.
Sebring Prototype Challenge [LMPC] winner CORE autosport leads a pack of nine ORECA FLM09 prototypes [2011 had only 3] – all with Michelin tires – into Long Beach. There are more than a few names that Long Beach fans will recognize: Memo Gidley drives for Muscle Milk Pickett Racing, and Bruno Junqueira occupies a seat in RSR Racing’s entry.
The Long Beach race for the American Le Mans Series is part of the Long Beach Grand Prix weekend which includes an IndyCar Series event and a celebrity race on the circuit that is located in downtown Long Beach, California.
Level 5 Motorsports is defending its 2011 LMP2 championship this season and is already off to a strong start. The team won the LMP2 class in the season’s first event last month and looks to continue that good fortune at Long Beach, the second event on the schedule.
While winning its class at Sebring, Level 5 also earned a fourth-place overall result, making it the highest-placed American Le Mans Series finisher. It was an even more impressive accomplishment considering the level of competition from the more powerful LMP1 category, which had 11 entries, including three factory Audi prototypes.
“The competition we will face this season is very strong,” Tucker said. “We had a good run at Sebring and showed we have what it takes to win. We’re hoping for more success at Long Beach.”
Someone other than CORE autosport’s Gunnar Jeannette will be hoisting the LMPC class winner’s trophy late Saturday evening for the simple reason that Jeannette won’t be back at the Beach in search of a three-peat. That’s not to say his team won’t.
Ryan Dalziel and CORE autosport (LMPC class winner at the first round race at Sebring) will be reunited for the second round of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón on the streets of Long Beach. This event marks the tenth anniversary of Dalziel’s U.S. racing debut in the U.S. – his first was at Long Beach in 2002, driving a Toyota Atlantic Championship machine. Dalziel will be paired in the Le Mans Prototype Challenge (LMPC) class #06 Soloson Import ORECA FLM09 with lead driver and Sebring winner, Alex Popow.
“Long Beach was my first race ever in the U.S. and when I saw it for the first time I knew it was the Monoco of the U.S. It really opened up my eyes as to how great U.S. racing can be with the combination of venue, course layout and fans, and really bolstered my decision to keep racing in the U.S. I’ve made sure to return to Long Beach whether I was driving or not,” said Dalziel. “I have worked with Alex for a long time and it’s always good to be driving with him, especially with a team that is as professional as CORE autosport. My goal is to help Alex learn the ‘tricks’ of Long Beach, which is challenging because it’s quite fast for a street circuit, while helping him gain points and win the championship.”
“I know Ryan is a good, fast and safe driver,” responded team-mate Alex Popow. ‘Having Ryan as my co-driver gives me confidence, as I have never raced on the streets of Long Beach before. I know he knows the track really well, definitely knows the car and he has a great relationship with CORE autosport – all good things for success. “With Ryan’s speed and the tips he can give me to be fast and smart on the track, we have a very good shot to stay out of trouble and win the race.”
Additional Tequila Patron ALMS at Long Beach preview information HERE.
The 2012 Tequila Patrón American Le Mans Series at Long Beach will take place on Saturday, April 14 at the temporary street course in Long Beach, Calif. On Friday, April 13, the teams will practice for two hours at 7:15 a.m. PT / 10:15 a.m. ET, with qualifying at 5:50 p.m. PT / 8:50 p.m. ET, which can be seen live on-line at ESPN3. Saturday’s race will be broadcast live at 4:30 p.m. PT / 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and on-line at ESPN3. Live timing and scoring can be found on the ALMS website at www.alms.com.
… notes from The EDJE
** Article first published as American Le Mans Series Open-Cockpit Cars Back In Action At Long Beach on Technorati **