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