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Mobil 12 Hours of Sebring; Le Mans Protoype Hawtness

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On: Thu, Mar 18, 2010 at 3:17PM | By: John Welch


Mobil 12 Hours of Sebring; Le Mans Protoype Hawtness

The Sports Car season is about to get into full-swing, the Mobil 12 Hours of Sebring presented by Orange Juice or Hair Cream or Cell Phones or something . . . is this Saturday! Eff!

The 'Shopper will be there and we will have freaking bells on! Getting the tickets we wanted didn't turn out to be such a snap, but the plans are lain and the Subie is gassed up. Now, to pound enough Unisom to make me just effing sleep until Saturday morning, March 19th. My liver has got to hate my guts . . .

The cars are more varied and exciting than ever, especially in the GT2 class. The number and variety of factory-backed full-bore GT2 cars is just astounding: Porsche, Corvette, BMW, Ford, Jaguar, Ferrari, Panoz, the list goes on.

Also thoroughly exciting, the prototype classes are going through some major changes this season. In order to emulate the fantastic LMP1 vs. LMP2 battles that took place between Audi, Penske (Porsche RS Spyders), and Highcroft-Acura. During the 2007 and 2008 campaigns, the LMP2 cars were working so well (and the then-new Audi R-10 was driving like a panel-van) that the significantly underpowered Acuras and Porsches were able to steal several over-all victories from the mightier (re: more powerful) LMP1 juggernauts.

For 2010, the ALMS has combined the LMP1 and 2 classes, and added a third, 'spec' class- LMPC. By taking weight off of the LMP1 cars, and taking the restrictors off (well, sort of; made the openings larger) the engines of the LMP2 cars, the playing field has been leveled between the two classes- essentially creating one mega-classification. The LMP2s are faster, but now the LMP1s can keep up with them in the corners . . . it's going to be very interesting . . .

LMP1, LMP2, and LMPC:

The Le Mans Prototype classes (which is cooler, Le Mans or Daytona? If you've been to Daytona Beach in the last ten years you will most certainly answer "Le Mans!") are going to see some serious upheaval this season. Not only are the current classifications being combined, the ALMS is adding a third class, LMPC.

LMPC is basically a spec-class, using the ORECA-Courage FLM09. Though these are starting the season exactly the same, don't be surprised to see different teams going in different directions with the FLM-09's aerodynamic accessories over the course of the season. Sort of like IRL cars, only the FLM-09 isn't out-dated and gay. No offense, I didn't mean to equate the IRL Honda-Dallara with alternative life-styles. That would be unfair to the Gays.

The FLM-09s are all powered by identical Chevy V8s, but I assume these will be making more power by the end of the year as well. Essentially replacing LMP2, the LMPC class could disappoint, but it could also be very kick-ass. We'll see.

AUDI! What the EFF??! Usually, in a normal world, we would have two diesel teams at Sebring, Audi-Sport and Peugeot. This year there is only Peugeot, the apparent winner of a battle of wills between the two European manufacturers. The story goes something like this: Because of the rule changes in the ALMS, Audi has been struggling to come to a compromise between the Le Mans rules (still LMP1 and 2, with no LMPC) and the rules they would have to adhere to in the US. Audi lodged a request with the FIA to run certain 2009-spec aero-devices in the US. The FIA ruled that they could do so, as long as all of the other teams agreed.

Heh, as you can imagine, Peugeot was not amused. They blocked the request almost immediately- making it substantially more difficult for Audi to dominate the American races as easily as they have in the past. Though the Peugeot 908 complies with all of the various rule-systems, Audi would essentially have to build two versions of the R15-Plus. Neh-eh, Audi was not having it. The result of this grade-school tiff? Audi, having determined that they could have a rule-compliant R15-Plus finished by Le Man, decided to sit out the 12 Hours of Sebring, denying Peugeot what might have been an easy victory over an under-developed R15. Saving face, apparently, is more important to Ingolstadt than pleasing race fans. Again I could make an IRL connection, but it just isn't worth it.

The really bizarre thing here- Audi is actually at Sebring, running the R15-Plus in testing. Strange. Just plain strange. We will have to wait for Le Mans to truly find out how the new R15 stacks up against the high-refined 908. Le Sigh.

The LMP entry list is down one car, the Intersport/Lola B10/06. Jon Field suffered a massive crash in Monday practice (to get its own post shortly) and the car was damaged beyond repair. New names such as Aston-Martin grace the 2010 LMP entry list, which is as follows:

LMP1 and 2 - Green text is the team name, Red is the chassis, and Purple is the engine used.

#8 Drayson Racing - Lola B09 60, Judd V10

Drivers: Paul Drayson, Gloucestershire, UK; Jonny Cocker, Guisborough, UK; Emanuele Pirro, Rome, Italy.

#12 Autocon Motorsports - Lola B06 10, AER Single-Turbo Inline 4 cylinder

Drivers: Bryan Willman, Seattle, WA; Tony Burgess, Toronto, Canada; Pierre Ehert, Tegernsee, Germany

#07 Team Peugeot Total - Peugeot 908 HDI FAP, Peugeot 5.5 liter Diesel-V12

Drivers: Marc Gené, Barcelona, Spain; Alexander Wurz, Monaco; Anthony Davidson, Brackley, Northamptonshire, UK

#08 Team Peugeot Total - Peugeot 908 HDI FAP, Peugeot 5.5 liter Diesel-V12

Drivers: Pedro Lamy, Lisbon, Portugal; Sébastien Bourdais, Le Mans, France; Nicolas Minassian, West Chiltington, UK

#007 Aston Martin Racing - Lola/Aston-Martin B09 60, Aston-Martin 6.0 liter V12

Drivers: Stefan Mucke, Berlin, Germany; Harold Primat, Geneva, Switzerland; Adrian Fernandez, Mexico City, Mexico

#1 Patrón Highcroft Racing - Acura/Wirth Engineering ARX-01c, Honda Performance Development 3.4 liter V8

Drivers: David Brabham, Henley-on-Thames, UK; Simon Pagenaud, Indianapolis, IN; Marino Franchitti, Edinburgh, UK

#6 Cytosport-Muscle Milk Team - Porsche RS Spyder, Porsche 3.4 liter V8

Drivers: Greg Pickett, Alamo, CA; Klaus Graf, Dornham, Germany; Sascha Maassen, Aachen, Germany

#16 Dyson Racing Team BP - Mazda/Lola B09 86, AER Single-Turbo Inline 4 cylinder

Drivers: Chris Dyson, Pleasant Valley, NY; Guy Smith, Beverley, UK; Andy Meyrick, Chester, UK

LMP-C

#11 Primetime-Braille Battery Race Group - ORECA-Courage FLM09, ORECA/Chevy Small-Block V8

Drivers: Joel Feinberg, Fort Lauderdale, FL; Kyle Marcelli, Barrie, Ontario

#36 Genoa Racing - ORECA-Courage FLM09, ORECA/Chevy Small-Block V8

Drivers: Andy Wallace, Oxford, England; JR Hildebrand, Sausalito(mmm, turkey . . .), CA; Tom Sutherland, Los Gatos, CA

#55 Level 5 Motorsports - ORECA-Courage FLM09, ORECA/Chevy Small-Block V8

Drivers: Scott Tucker, Leawood, KS; Christophe Bouchut, Voiron, France; Mark Wilkins, Toronto

#89 Intersport Racing Quicksilver - ORECA-Courage FLM09, ORECA/Chevy Small-Block V8

Drivers: Mitch Pagerey, Deerfield Beach, FL; Brian Wong, Newport Beach, CA; David Ducote, Houston, TX

#95 Level 5 Motorsports - ORECA-Courage FLM09, ORECA/Chevy Small-Block V8

Drivers: Scott Tucker, Leawood, KS; Ryan Hunter-Reay, Boca Raton, FL; James Gue, Alpharetta, GA

#99 Green Earth Team Gunnar - ORECA-Courage FLM09, ORECA/Chevy Small-Block V8

Drivers: Christian Zugel, Holmdel, NJ; Gunnar Jeannette, Salt Lake City, UT; Elton Julian, Santa Monica, CA

If you have trouble identifying any of the cars racing at Sebring this weekend after reading this blog, and flipping through the images below . . . well, you should be shot. All images were kypped from the ALMS website, and there are many many more available for your perusal . . .


Photo Gallery (click a thumbnail to enlarge)


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