Many believe that the official preseason test for the American Le Mans Series teams comes during the lead up and the participation in the 24 hours of Daytona but this is far from the case. Not all classes or teams can take part in the event even though some crossover takes place. The 2012 ALMS season begins in earnest in advance of next month’s 60th anniversary Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring and this effort took place Wednesday and Thursday of this past week.
Most observers had their attention on the renewed intrest in teams signing up to participate in the LMP2 class, the primarily open cockpit class of prototype sports car formula designed to be limited in its cost to teams but to be incredibly fast and competitive. Smaller and less powerful than their LMP1 counterparts, LMP2 cars still are impressive, purpose-built prototypes. Just as in the LMP1, multiple manufacturers supply open-top and coupe chassis including the Lola B11/40, HPD ARX-01d, ORECA 03 and Radical SR9. LMP2 cars can produce similar horsepower figures to GT cars (450-500 vs 475-575 horsepower for LMP1) with speeds up to 170 mph but weigh a maximum of 900 kilograms (LMP1 can reach top speeds of 200 mph with a minimum weight requirement of 900 kilograms or just under 2,000 lbs.).
This excerpted and edited from Racer –
Thursday Notebook: Sebring Winter Test
February 09, 2012
FAST TIMES, DAY TWO – Muscle Milk’s new HPD ARX-03a was literally quick out of the box as it registered the day’s, and week’s, fastest time of 1:48.192.
The three LMP2 cars also all improved on their Wednesday times, with the two Level 5 HPDs (P2-spec ARX-03bs) in at 1:51.522 and 1:51.714, respectively. Pecom’s Oreca 03 Nissan got down to a 1:52.134. All three were ahead of last year’s P2 class pole of 1:53.815.
DOUBLE THE MUSCLE – Muscle Milk Pickett Racing was able to debut its new HPD ARX-03a Thursday, the first time Honda Performance Development’s new LMP1 contender had made a lap anywhere in the world. HPD has a six-team, seven-car lineup split between the LMP1 and LMP2 classes in both the ALMS and FIA World Endurance Championship.
Simon Pagenaud, the longtime Honda pilot, joined Muscle Milk regulars Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr. All three seemed very complimentary of the car, and it certainly showed its pace as it ripped off some fliers only a day after being assembled! The car arrived in Sebring in various boxes and was put together all day Wednesday.
“It’s such a big evolution from last year’s car,” said Pagenaud, who was one of three drivers to have a chance in the one-off HPD ARX-01e run to second at last year’s race. “The engine gives us good power, the front splitter gives the car additional downforce and the new tub gives us better efficiency as well. It’s generally the same aero package as the car we ran last year.”
Team principal Greg Pickett took the ceremonial first laps and unsurprisingly didn’t want to get out of the cockpit when his stint was over. The team’s LMPC car continued to rack up the laps as well, marking the first day there were two Muscle Milk prototypes on track.
Additional background on LMP Class efforts during the Sebring Winter Test, from Wednesday, highlight the dynamic performance improvements over 2011.
This excerpted and edited from Autoweek –
ALMS: Luis Diaz, [LMP2’s] Level 5 Racing top first day of Sebring test
Published on 2/08/2012
Level 5 Motorsports on Wednesday rolled out its new Honda Performance Development prototypes and set the fastest time on the opening day of the American Le Mans Series’ winter test at Sebring International Raceway. Luis Diaz set the fastest lap in the afternoon session, 1 minute, 53.044 seconds (117.830 mph), in Level 5’s HPD ARX-03b.
Diaz’s time was nearly 0.8 second quicker than last year’s LMP2 pole time for the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring. Diaz, the 2009 LMP2 race winner, was a full second quicker than Pecom Racing’s ORECA-Nissan of Pierre Kaffer, Soheil Ayari and Luis Pérez Companc.
“With the new cars and everyone knowing each other better, I think it’s going to be a strong year for us,” said Diaz, who is splitting time in the car with Christophe Bouchut and Scott Tucker. “The car is very similar to last year’s car. I would say that the biggest thing today was learning the Dunlop tires. So far, they are very good tires and good people to work with. It was nice to be [quickest] at the end of the day with the new car and new tires. There is a long way to go to the race, but I think we started on the right foot.”
Level 5’s second HPD prototype was third quickest on the day. Bouchut set the time of 1:55.759 (115.067 mph) during the morning session.
PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ entry of Butch Leitzinger and Rudy Junco posted the best lap in the LMP Challenge class with a time of 1:56.270 (114.561 mph). The PR1 ORECA FLM09–a class winner at Road America and Road Atlanta in 2011–set its time in the afternoon session, as did Dempsey Racing’s entry of Henri Richard, Duncan Ende and Dane Cameron.
The Dempsey car’s best time of 2:01.419 (113.845 mph) put it 0.43 second ahead of Muscle Milk Pickett Racing’s duo of Memo Gidley and Michael Guasch; their best lap came in the morning session.
Lastly, the 2012 ALMS broadcast schedule was released this week on the heels of the activity surrounding the Sebring Winter Test.
This excerpted and edited from Autoweek –
ALMS: Series confirms 2012 Web, TV broadcast package
By: Steven Cole Smith on 2/08/2012
The American Le Mans Series broadcast package for the 2011 season was deemed futuristic when ALMS executives last year announced that all of the series’ races would be broadcast live online via ESPN3.com, with cable or over-the-air TV broadcasts on a tape-delayed basis.
But it might have been too futuristic, as most fans had to have a participating cable or online provider to get ESPN3. Now, the ALMS has revised its 2012 schedule to include four live television broadcasts of its 10-race season, all of which will again be broadcast live on ESPN3.com.
ESPN2 will air the Tequila Patrón American Le Mans Series at Long Beach (Calif.) on April 14, the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park (Conn.) on July 7 and the Grand Prix of Mosport (Ontario, Canada) on July 22, and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge (Lexington, Ohio) in August will air on ABC.
The other six races will air on TV once again on a tape-delayed basis. The season opener, the 60th anniversary of the 12 Hours of Sebring, will air as a cut-down, tape-delayed broadcast on ABC on March 18.
Similarly, the Monterey race from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will air tape-delayed on ESPN2 on May 13, Road America will air on ESPN2 on Aug. 19, Virginia International Raceway will air on ESPN2 on Sept. 16, and Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta will air on Oct. 21 on ABC. The Grand Prix of Baltimore, if it happens this year, will air on ABC on Sept. 2.
“Thanks to our growing relationship with ABC and ESPN, we’ve answered our fans’ desire for more live TV programming in 2012,” ALMS president and CEO Scott Atherton said. “The ALMS is fortunate to have a diverse fan base that consumes video in a variety of ways.”
To be clear: All ALMS races and qualifying sessions will be broadcast live and in their entirety on ESPN3.com, and for viewers outside the U.S., via ALMS.com. The lone exception will be the Mid-Ohio race, which ESPN3.com will not carry during ABC’s live broadcast.
Races will remain archived for on-demand viewing at ESPN3.com for three weeks following each race and on ALMS.com, for all users, indefinitely. Fans can also watch races on the go with the WatchESPN app for smart phones and iPad.
With an expanded field looking to compete in the LMP2 Class, 2012 season is shaping up to be one of the most busy on-track seasons in recent history.
The American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón with its five classes of high-tech sports cars competing together in each race offers constant passing and engaging on-track battles throughout. Given the speed variation between the classes and other competitive nuances, each Series round offer the fan an unparalleled motorsports experience.
Timing & Scoring session by session (4) 2012 Sebring Winter Test results – HERE