Thursday, March 18, 2010

ALMS: Squeezing in 12hrs of Sunshine at Sebring

Pretty clever, eh? As I’ll let Y’all ponder that... As in it’s got something to do with its (Presenting) Florida citrus connection, which why does that make me think ‘bout “EMMO,” a.k.a. Emerson Fittipaldi drinking Orange Juice at the Brickyard, but I digress...

This Saturday, the 58th Annual running of the Sebring 12 hours Sports Car Enduro will commence on America’s bumpiest circuit, as after all, the lady of Sebring is the remnants of a bunch ‘O concrete WWII runways.

Yet for me, Sebring is one of the Big 3 Endurance events, after Le Mans and Daytona, and although this year’s American Le Mans Series may be a little light upon international talent, nevertheless Peugeot looks set to capture its first Sebring victory, with Audi pulling out over its French rival’s demand for the Huns to run their 2010 Le Mans bodywork, and thus, Audi will test its updated R15’s on the Monday following the event at the venerable Airport circuit.

This year’s event sees the debut of the American Le Mans Series four class restructuring, with a new Prototype Challenge class, (LMPC) along with an updated GT Challenge Class, (GTC) while the LMP1 & LMP2’s will run together. Meanwhile the Corvette’s only GT1 category has disappeared, with the Chevy’s now joining the overly competitive GT2 category.

Having just been asked what’s the ‘Hamburgular up too... Y’all may know him better as SeaBass, a.k.a. Sebastian Bourdais, who’ll be driving one of the two Peugeot Diesel 908’s this Saturday, as I’d assume SeaBass will remain Abroad as he seeks to claim history by finally winning his Hometown race, le 24 Heurs du Mans... As Bourdais will be partnered by Pedro Lamy and Nicolas Minassian, with Peugeot’s other turbo diesel being piloted by Marc Gene, Alexander Wurz and ‘ANT, nee Anthony Davidson. Not a bad grouping, eh? Five ex-Formula 1 Piloto’s and two reigning Le Mans winners...

Last year’s LMP1 Champions Hicroft Racing will campaign a Honda ARX-01c in the LMP2 category with Simon Pagenaud having joined David Brabham and Marino Franchitti.

Sao Paolo Indy 300 runner-up Ryan Hunter-Reay will be at the wheel of a Level 5 Motorsports LMPC, whilst interestingly, J.R. Hildebrand who lost out on the DCR Boy Scouts of America ride in the Big Carz to Alex ‘Pink Lloyd, will be behind the wheel of another of the Le Mans Challenge ORECA FLM09 Spec-class Prototype’s that he’ll be driving for Genoa Racing.

Not to mention the major ‘Blow-over John Field endured aboard his Lola B06/10 AER LMP1 chassis during testing, as apparently after being buffeted by a 30mph gust of wind, Field Barrel rolled his racecar several times, which the team has reported was due to a right rear suspension failure. Meanwhile Andrea Robertson mangled her beautiful Ford GTR Bass-Ackwards into the tyre barriers upon losing control, as both teams will be pulling lots of “All-nighters” to repair their damaged equipment “Just-in-Time” for Saturday’s green flag, yet both drivers were ok.

And that’s before we even get to the hotly contested GT2 category, so you can read all ‘bout it here in SPEED’s testing report, as qualifying is set for Friday, with live race coverage beginning at 7AM PACIFIC on SPEED this Saturday...