American Le Mans Series notebook
Guy Smith says, “The challenge of sports car racing – the different circuits, the different classes – (is) what makes it fun.” Le Mans and Lime Rock Park, site of the American Le Mans Series’ second half, really are worlds apart. For starters, the two circuits are more than 3,600 miles apart. Plus Le Mans is more than eight miles long compared to 1.5 miles at Lime Rock, which will play host to the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix on July 17-18.
The differences, though, are part of the charm of endurance racing, at least to Dyson Racing’s Guy Smith. He was one of 42 Series drivers who competed two weeks ago in the French 24-hour classic and will drive one of Dyson’s Mazda-powered Lola coupes in LMP2. In fact many of the same cars that competed at Le Mans will also take part in the Series’ sixth visit to the picturesque Lime Rock venue.
That includes the GT2-class winning Ferrari F430 of Risi Competizione and drivers Jaime Melo and Pierre Kaffer.
“Obviously you’ve got Le Mans and eight-and-a-half miles, and you go to Lime Rock and it couldn’t be more different,” said Dyson Racing’s Guy Smith. “But that’s the challenge of sports car racing – the different circuits, the different classes – and that’s what makes it fun.”
• HAPPY HUNTING GROUND FOR JORG: The preliminary Lime Rock entry list features eight past winners of the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix. By far the most successful is Flying Lizard Motorsports’ Jorg Bergmeister.
The three-time GT2 champion in the series will seek a fourth consecutive victory at Lime Rock, all in a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. He won in 2006 with Patrick Long for Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing, and with Flying Lizard in 2007 (Johannes van Overbeek) and 2008 (Wolf Henzler). The German Porsche factory driver will team with Long, also a Porsche works pilot, this year.
• GOOD(WOOD) SHOW: A number of past and present American Le Mans Series drivers will be present at next weekend’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, one of world’s premier annual gatherings of historic race cars and talent. The main attraction is the Goodwood Hill Climb, which sees a wide range of the most significant race cars and motorcycles in history racing single-file along the 1.16-mile course that features a steep climb past flint walls and dense woodlands.
Among those on hand will be Patrón Highcroft Racing’s and recent 24 Hours of Le Mans winner David Brabham, who will drive the 1959 Cooper Climax with which his father – Sir Jack Brabham – won the F1 World Championship that year. David Brabham drove the car around Sebring International Raceway prior to the start of the 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida.
The Peugeot 908 HDi that he piloted with Marc Gene and Alexander Wurz at Le Mans will be at the show as well.Just as he did at Sebring, David Brabham will drive his father’s Cooper Climax at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.Past American Le Mans Series champions Frank Biela, Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish, Emanuele Pirro and Marco Werner are expected to attend and drive a number of different Audi race cars including Audi’s R8R, R8, R10 TDI and R15 TDI prototypes that have competed in the American Le Mans Series.
Dyson Racing’s Smith and Marino Franchitti will likewise participate. Smith will pilot the Bentley EXP Speed 8 with which he won Le Mans in 2003, and Franchitti will make a demonstration run in an Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione.
BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team’s Dirk Muller and past ALMS race winner Steve Soper will be driving BMWs at the event.
• The next round of the American Le Mans Series is the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn. The race is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. EDT on Saturday, July 18. The race will air live on SPEED. The race also will mark the fifth round of the Michelin Green X Challenge.