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ALMS – Petit Le Mans – The 2007 ALMS Schedule
And The State Of The Series Address

With some of the race lengths still to be finalized – Road America will be “longer than two and three quarter hours” (and will run into the twilight) while Long Beach, on Super Saturday, will be “90 or 100 minutes”, for example – this is the 2007 ALMS, 12 race schedule (up from ten).

March 17, Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, SPEED
March 31, St. Petersburg, SPEED
April 14, Long Beach, SPEED
April 21, Houston, CBS Sports
May 19, Salt Lake City, CBS Sports
July 7, Lime Rock Park, CBS Sports
July 21, Mid-Ohio, CBS Sports
August 11, Road America, NBC Sports
August 26, Mosport, SPEED
September 1, Detroit, SPEED
October 6, Road Atlanta/Petit Le Mans, SPEED
October 20, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, SPEED.

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Tim Mayer and Kevin Savoree (MD of the St. Petersburg event), and Jim Michaelian (Long Beach) and Scott Atherton are seen on either side of the 2007 schedule board.

So Portland is no more, and there are three new events – St. Petersburg (with the IRL) and Long Beach (Champ Car) before the Le Mans break, and a third street race, at Detroit (with IRL), early in September.

Petit Le Mans is a week later, to “better co-ordinate with other Le Mans style racing,” according to Tim Mayer, while Salt Lake City is earlier in the season, to avoid the worst of the desert heat.

That makes a record five races before Le Mans, with a run of seven to the end of the season.

“One of the hallmarks of a successful, viable organization is continued growth and reach and after saying last year that the 2006 schedule was the strongest in our history, we have raised the bar in a big way for the premium brand of motorsport in North America,” said Scott Atherton. “Everybody wins with this schedule."

There were other notable features of the annual state of the series address – 24 hours before the 75th ALMS race.

One centred around performance balancing, and resulted in an unfortunate turn of phrase from Audi’s Herr Ullrich.

“It’s a challenge to balance the rules that are optimized for Le Mans,” began Scott Atherton, in this phase of the presentation. He admitted that the “execution of the plan has not been perfect,” but changes are planned.

“Recently we spent two days with the ACO at Le Mans, and they now recognize that a series needs options for adjustment,” stated Atherton.

To ensure that top independent teams can compete with factory teams, there will be two adjustment periods each season (assumed to be at the one-third and two-thirds points) at which weight, fuel capacity, boost and restrictor sizes can be adjusted. These revisions will apply to the Le Mans Series too. Arguably they haven’t been needed in the same way as they have in the ALMS, but there will be provision for them for 2007: the assumed arrival of Audi with the announced arrival of Peugeot, in Europe, are logically the driving forces here.

“We haven’t written the adjustment rules in detail,” said COO Tim Mayer. “We need to do a lot of work with the ACO in the coming month.”

And at this point, Herr Ullrich asked a question, which Scott Atherton responded to very concisely and thoroughly.

“What has changed that you need performance adjustments?” asked Herr Ullrich. “It worked out excellently (in the past), but now you have come out with something that will be the end of the ALMS.”

“It (the performance adjustments) will be a known, methodical, technologically grounded process. There are disparities that are affecting the series at a disparity of venues, and a system is being established to address this.”

There had already been references to the difference between a set of regulations applying to one, 24 hour race, and those that are needed on a variety of circuits in a now 12-race series.

Rob Dyson responded with his own views – in a very clearly explained address.

“I applaud the fact that the ACO has recognized the distinction between a single event and a series. In the past, before Don Panoz created the American Le Mans Series, there was only Le Mans – and manufacturers could turn up with a mobile laboratory. But to preserve the viability of this series, the promoters need cars that can run close together on performance. My hat’s off to the ACO, the ALMS and IMSA.

“You need to blend available (new) technologies with standard technologies available to private entrants – to provide good, close, honest, straight up racing.”

So those were the most significant events this morning, although there was confirmation that the series is looking to a single fuel supplier for 2007, and that could be Shell – but if it isn’t, “maybe the next challenge for Audi will be to do it with another fuel supplier,” suggested Tim Mayer.

IMSA will be looking at the energy level of the three different fuels likely to be required - petrol (gas), diesel and ethanol mix - “to ensure the relative competitiveness of different fuels.” IMSA’s boffins apparently have sufficient of the Shell diesel to answer their questions on that score.

It was a fascinating ‘state of the series’. Qualifying starts shortly though!

 

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