Full-season entrants in the American Le Mans Series combined with the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup field to create a 59-car grid for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 19, setting the stage for one of the most anticipated editions of the classic endurance sports car race.
The Automobile Club de l'Ouest – sanctioning body for the Le Mans 24 Hours – announced Wednesday the teams that will participate in the seven-round ILMC. Concurrently, ALMS sanctioning body IMSA released its list of full-season entrants for 2011. Together, it gives Sebring one of the largest and most diverse gatherings of sports cars it has seen in what will be its 59th running. It ties the largest Sebring field in the ALMS era, matching the 2002 grid.
“The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida has never been more in the spotlight than it will be in 2011,” said Scott Atherton, ALMS president and CEO. “The collection of world-class talent – drivers, teams and manufacturers – that will test themselves in one of the world's most grueling endurance challenges ranks alongside only Le Mans in both quality and quantity. The start of the 2011 American Le Mans Series season – and the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup – will be one for the ages and certainly one worth the devotion and following this great race has enjoyed for nearly 60 years.”
Each of last year's Sebring class winners are back for 2011 – Peugeot Sport in LMP1, Muscle Milk Aston Martin Racing (up to P1 from LMP2), Level 5 Motorsports (LMPC to LMP2), Risi Competizione (GT) and Alex Job Racing (GTC). In addition, defending ALMS champions Highcroft Racing (P1), BMW Team RLL (GT) and Black Swan Racing (GTC), are on the initial Sebring entry.
In LMP1, Peugeot will defend against the likes of Audi and representatives from Aston Martin, Honda Performance Development, Toyota, Mazda and Pescarolo. The entry in GT is even more expansive with marques such as Aston Martin, BMW, Corvette, Ferrari, Ford, Jaguar, Lamborghini, Panoz and Porsche. In addition, the LMP and GT Challenge classes that debuted in 2010 will compete alongside ILMC entries at both Sebring and Petit Le Mans.
“The American Le Mans Series was founded by Don Panoz as a year-'round showcase of everything that makes the 24 Hours of Le Mans the greatest motor race in the world,” Atherton said. “Having Sebring serve as the first round of this important new championship is another validation of the world-class stature of our platform and Sebring's status in global endurance racing.”