Mar 16

Sebring Four-Hour Report: Penalty sets back No. 1 Audi R18 As Audi Sport Still 1-2

Extreme Speed Motorsports grabs P2 lead
United SportsCar Racing Confirms Strategic Alliance with ACO and Le Mans

American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón logoALMS - Audi-Hour 4-1While the rest of the competition has struggled to keep up with the pace of the Audi Sport R18 e-tron quattros this weekend, a penalty to race leader Allan McNish set one of the top two cars in the P1 class back at Sebring International Raceway. McNish made contact with Mirco Schultis in the No. 81 DragonSpeed Mishumotors close to the Hour 3 mark and was black flagged for incidental contact.

The penalty (stop and go, plus 60 seconds) put the No. 2 Audi R18 at the end of the lead lap, behind the team’s No. 1 Audi R18, before retaking the lead on pit stops at the Hour 4 mark.

Extreme Speed Motorsports jumped to the lead in P2 in the team’s maiden voyage with its new HPD prototype. Guy Cosmo took the lead on Lap 103 in the No. 01 HPD ARX-03b and continues to hold onto the position after a sequence of yellow flag pit stops. The team’s No. 02 suffered minor body damage by a pair of spins, one of which brought out the caution to close out the race’s fourth hour.

The ultra-competitive Prototype Challenge presented by Continental Tire class has seen its share of lead changes through the race’s first four hours with the race’s current leader, Alex Popow, taking the top spot from David Cheng in Popow’s No. 9 RSR Racing ORECA prototype.

After pacing the GT field for much of the first part of the race the No. 4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette suffered electrical problems that set the team down one lap. SRT Motorsports and Dominik Farnbacher benefitted from Corvette’s misfortune taking the GT lead after a close battle with the Joey Hand and the No. 56 BMW Z4 of BMW Team RLL.

Alex Job Racing has led the majority of the race to this point in GT Challenge with starting driver Jeroen Bleekemolen back behind the wheel. Nelson Canache (No. 45) and Kuba Giermaziak (No. 31) round out the top 3 in the class.


United SportsCar Racing confirms strategic alliance with ACO and Le Mans

The link between Le Mans and professional sports car racing in North America lives on into the future. Officials from United SportsCar Racing – a result of unifying the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón and GRAND-AM Road Racing – today signed agreements with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) that will keep the Le Mans brand of sports car racing firmly entrenched in North America.

“The ACO is delighted through this alliance partnership that goes beyond a simple licensing agreement, to continue our collaboration that started 14 years ago with Don Panoz and the creation of ALMS, and which has been of great benefit to both partners,” said ACO President Pierre Fillon.

“This strategic alliance will lead to a close collaboration between the ACO and United SportsCar Racing to promote, develop and reinforce endurance racing in North America. Through this global agreement, I am convinced endurance racing will continue to be in safe hands in North America for many years to come.”

The specific licensing agreement will allow selected United SportsCar Racing competitors to have entries in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The agreement also allows for the Road Atlanta event to continue using the name, “Petit Le Mans.” In addition, a strategic alliance agreement was inked to explore and develop new avenues and horizons for endurance racing in North America.

Going forward, United SportsCar Racing and the ACO will work together to craft compatible technical regulations for the top sports car categories from each side. Such work is expected to expand manufacturer involvement, increase the sustainable relevance of sports car racing and enhance the overall event experience for all fans.

“A key component in the unification of the GRAND-AM Rolex Series and the American Le Mans Series was the ability to continue a relationship with Le Mans and the ACO,” said Jim France, GRAND-AM founder and United SportsCar Racing board member.

“My family has admired the 24 Hours of Le Mans for decades, and we hold it in the same high regard as the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The opportunity to maintain a link to Le Mans is as important to me as it is to all United SportsCar Racing manufacturers, teams and drivers.”

United SportsCar Racing begins its inaugural season in 2014 and while the ACO is the governing body of Le Mans-style racing, United SportsCar Racing remains independent from the ACO’s group of sanctioned series around the globe.

The opening round of the 2014 United SportsCar Racing season is the 52nd running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

source: alms.com