ALMS: Petit Le Mans Capped To 53 Starters
60 entries to qualify for 53 starting positions in Intercontinental Le Mans Cup/American Le Mans Series enduro…
John Dagys | Posted August 29, 2011 Chicago, IL
The 14th annual Petit Le Mans will feature a grid of 53 starters, with 60 cars vying for those positions in the run up to the 1,000-mile/10-hour enduro. (Photo: John Dagys) With series around the globe facing dwindling car counts, many would love to be in the position of the American Le Mans Series, which sees an oversubscribed field for the 14th annual Petit Le Mans.
The 1,000-mile/10-hour endurance classic at Road Atlanta, which also doubles as the penultimate round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, will feature only 53 starters due to track and pit lane limitations. Close to 70 cars are believed to have submitted entries but only 60 will be given a shot to qualify for the Oct. 1 race.
As Scot Elkins, Chief Operating Officer of the ALMS and IMSA, explains to SPEED.com, the process in narrowing the entry list down was fairly straight forward, with only full-season entrants in the ALMS and ILMC having been selected. But turning teams away is something the series has never done before.
“There are people who have called and asked to enter the race but we’ve had to turn them down because they weren’t full-season entries,” Elkins said. “This is not necessarily something we’re happy about. But it’s something we have to do because of the restraints of the track.”
All full-season LMP1, LMP2, GT/GTE-Pro and GTE-Am teams have been provisionally locked into the starting field as long as each car meets the minimum qualifying and drive time requirements during race week. Forty-five cars on the entry list fall into this category.
The remaining eight positions will be filled by full-season LMPC and GTC teams according to their qualifying speeds. Elkins said they’ll likely take the top-four in each class for inclusion, with the remaining seven going on an alternate list should any of the confirmed qualifiers not make the race start.
Unlike NASCAR, where provisionals secure the top-ranked teams and past champions to be in the show, only the four quickest cars in each class will make the race, something that hasn’t been seen in the sportscar racing world for over a decade.
It will prove to be crucial 15-minute qualifying sessions for Challenge competitors, especially those in the midst of a title fight on the championship-deciding weekend.
“Having talked to the LMPC and GTC guys, I thought they would have been upset [at the situation]. But most of them are pretty interested in the fact that they have to qualify to get a position in the race,” Elkins said. “It’s one of the biggest races in the world and they like the fact that they have to… qualify for this big event.”
It’s expected that eight LMPC and seven GTC cars will be battling for starting positions, roughly giving a 50/50 chance of those not making the race, should all of the other class cars meet the qualifying requirements.
While some teams such as Oryx Dyson Racing, Level 5 Motorsports and Robertson Racing have not competed in every ALMS race this season to date, all three are classified as full-season entrants and are thus essentially locked into the field.
Elkins said the full entry list of 60 cars that will be allowed to take part in testing, practice and qualifying should be released in the next few days.