de FERRAN TEAM STILL ON TOP AT SEBRING

The skies clouded over and the wind picked up Wednesday afternoon for the second to last American Le Mans test session at Sebring International Raceway.

The fastest class drivers were:Team Owner GIL de FERRAN in No.66 de Ferran Motorsports Acura ARX 02a LMP1 – 1:46.986/124.502 mph. Another team owner, ADRIAN FERNANDEZ was fastest in LMP2 – Lowe’s Fernandez Racing Acura ARX-01B at 1:49.008/122.193 mph. WOLF HENZLER/No.87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR was the fastest GT2 driver – 2:02.839/108.435 mph.

Eleven cars total ran the session, as teams started to pack up and head out.

The Panoz Team PT No.21 Panoz Esperante GT2 has two drivers for the Sebring test – DOMINIK FARNBACHER and IAN JAMES. It is not yet known who will join them for The 12 Hours of Sebring

BUTCH LEITZINGER/No.16 Dyson Racing Lola 08 86 Mazda said the additional 50 kg weight added to the LMP2 class cars surely can be felt and the car goes slower, but it’s still fun to drive. Team owner, ROB DYSON, may run in one or more of the long races. In the meantime, his son CHRIS is one of the four regular drivers. The two cars will use painted accents to distinguish the two – on track and coming into the pits. No.16 will have green mirrors, wings and windscreen touches. The No.20 car will have yellow trim.

The ALMS GT1 class has been dominated of late by the two-car factory Corvette. Much of the time it has run alone. The long-announced plan for the 2009 and 2010 season is for the current two Corvette CR6 cars to run selected ALMS races, such as The Twelve Hours of Sebring, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and then the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Corvette is skipping St. Petersburg, Miller Motorsports Park, and Lime Rock Park. Meanwhile development is ongoing on the new GT2 Corvette which will make its debut at Mid-Ohio. The car will run the rest of the 2009 season and full time in 2010. 

The four core Corvette drivers will remain the same – JOHNNY O’CONNELL and JAN MAGNUSSEN in one car, and the two Ollies in the other – OLIVIER BERETTA and OLIVER GAVIN. What will be new this year are the drivers added for the long distance races. This year it had been RON FELLOWS of Canada and MAX PAPIS of Italy. Both have other commitments. Fellows is working on new ventures and also pursuing¬† some NASCAR rides. Papis has already been announced as having a partial season in NASCAR Sprint Cup with GEICO.

DOUG FEHAN, Corvette Program Manager,¬† is playing it close to the vest on the two new long distance drivers. He’d like the decision to be made and announced, but GM is dealing with a lot of issues these days.

At the present time, there aren’t any other teams coming forward with a GT1 car. ALMS issued a statement Tuesday afternoon on the subject, to clarify some Media Day comments. “The GT1 class is not going away. The American Le Mans Series is still a four-class series; it follows the ACO rules and remains affiliated with the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Series encourages competitive entries to GT1 class; however it does not currently believe there are any such competitors in the pipeline. Therefore, the Series sees an opportunity to create a very competitive GT class within GT2. Additionally, the Series and IMSA will not allow a non-competitive entrant into GT1 class simply to accumulate points and victories due to a lack of competition once Corvette Racing moves to the GT2 class from GT1 after the 24 Hours of Le Mans.”