Massa

12 Hours Of Sebring

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The entry list is out for a combined race between the IMSA American Le Mans Series and the FIA/ACO World Endurance Championship. Cars will only score points in their registered series, and I am fairly sure they will be running under their own rules (IMSA does Balance of Power a lot differently than FIA/ACO do it), though they will still all be racing together for the overall win. No idea if they will crown a different class winner (i.e. two LMP1 class winners, two LMP2 class winners, etc); I know they will reward winners' points to the highest-classified ALMS car and the highest-classified WEC car, so I guess.

But that's all confusing, so let's just the enjoy the race. You can watch all 12 hours streamed live (March 17 at 10:15 AM in the GMT -5 time zone) at alms.com if you are outside the United States. The same website will also be offering full, 12 hour coverage from on-board cameras on various cars to all, regardless of location, with the choice of team radio or Radio Le Mans commentary. U.S. viewers can watch on ESPN3.com if they have that service; if not, and if watching on on-board cameras is far too maddening, and you can't find/don't want to find a stream elsewhere, ABC will air two hour highlights of the race on Sunday March 18 at noon ET.

I am not sure if WEC races are televised or streamed, but perhaps there will be options through them, or through Audi.tv.

Entry list here: www.alms.com/sites/default/files/races/entry_lists/Sebring-Entry.pdf

Highlights from the ALMS side:

  • Simon Pagenaud, full-time in IndyCar this year and long-time Honda favorite, adds to a stout Team Muscle Milk lineup. Their car's laptimes were easily meeting Audi's in testing, now it's all about reliability etc.
  • New York is now abbreviated NT
  • Ex-BTCC racer Steven Kane joins Dyson as third driver in their new Lola; he won overall at Baltimore in the Oryx Dyson last year.
  • Conquest debut their new Morgan LMP2 with ex-IndyCar drivers Martin Plowman and Francesco Dracone.
  • Ryan Hunter-Reay joins Level 5 once again in LMP2.
  • João Barbosa has changed his name to Joao Porto.
  • The two Extreme Speed cars will run with just two drivers each. Must be expecting retirements. :P
  • The highly-rated, GM-backed Jordan Taylor makes his Corvette debut as third driver in the 03.
  • Multi-time Rolex 24 GT champion Andy Lally joins Flying Lizard in the 044.
  • Memo Gidley returns in the new Team Muscle Milk LMPC.
  • Two new LMPC cars from Merchant Services Racing, as well as a new one from Rocketsports headlined by Bruno Junqueira and Tomy Drissi. Dempsey Racing also joins with Henri Richard, Duncan Ende, and Dane Cameron (Patrick's insurance does not cover open-cockpit cars).
  • Former IndyCar driver Raphael Matos will race with Performance Tech in LMPC.
  • Once a top driver in Grand-Am at age 17 and then a NASCAR prospect with Roush, Colin Braun begins a full season with CORE Autosport in LMPC.
  • ALMS missed CORE announcing Burt Frisselle, Alex Popow, and E.J. Viso as drivers of their 06 car.
  • Alex Job Racing will field a GTC for Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell; that pair will drive a Lotus Evora for AJR in the real GT class starting at Long Beach.

From WEC:

  • Three Audis, with Loïc Duval their newest ringer.
  • Nick Heidfeld completes a really stout Rebellion lineup of Nic Prost and Neel Jani, while Harold Primat joins their second car as the new driver with AMR gone from P1.
  • Bertrand Baguette, after defeat in the Indy 500, now races full-time with OAK Racing.
  • Strakka get the new HPD, as do JRM, who have David Brabham, Karun Chandhok, and Peter Dumbreck driving. It'll be fun to see the three new HPD P1s (Muscle Milk the other) battling with the three Audis. I know they're fast enough.
  • Starworks, a Grand-Am team, will run P2 with an HPD ARX-03b. Their DP runners Ryan Dalziel and Enzo Potolicchio are joined by Stéphane Sarrazin. I have to like their chances in class.
  • AMR move to GTE Pro. Stefan Mücke, Adrián Fernández, and Darren Turner go along with them.
  • Joël Camathias still races?

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ALMS drivers Ed Brown, Guy Cosmo, and Tom Milner visited the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando.

http://alms.com/articles/brown-cosmo-milner-bring-race-fun-childrens-hospital

You know I like stuff like this a lot. Of the three, I've talked with Guy before. He's a really good guy and I'm sure Ed and Tom are, too. There are few in the ALMS paddock who aren't, which makes a really fun series even more enjoyable for me.

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Looking forward to watching this online. Looks like a very healthy entry list too, and hopefully Audi don't run away with it. Shame Toyota's not there, but there's interest in the classes anyway.

I'll be cheering on Rebellion obviously, but I'll want Steven Kane (ex BTCC of course) and Guy Smith (local to me) to do well too so that I can send some more abuse to my regional news programme when they forget to mention it. :P

The GT class as well looks like it will be well worth watching. It's a shame that Ratel is making such a mess of GT racing at the moment, because GT racing is some of the best around. I can understand why TV stations want to concentrate on LMP, or in Grand Am, DP, but when GT classes are so competitive at the moment it'd be nice to see them get a lot more attention too.

Just a quick question - what's happened to Risi? You've probably mentioned about them in the past, but I've forgotten...

Edited by JHS18

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I don't think Audi will run away with it.

Last year, Highcroft finished second overall, behind one Peugeot and ahead of all the Audis, with their HPD.

Pickett Racing (Muscle Milk) were much faster in testing than last year's Highcroft car, and last year's Audi. In fact, they were getting dangerously close to Peugeot's 2011 fastest lap times, and had they done a second day of testing, they may have even reached that (most teams made huge gains on day two, and this was the first time out for their ARX-03a).

So I have to figure they will keep Audi honest, and Luhr/Graf/Pagenaud is a tremendous lineup. And that's not to discredit or count out the two other ARX-03a entrants, also good teams with good lineups, but I think, and I'm not sure, that the IMSA Balance of Power will work in favor of the ALMS-entered HPD over the WEC-entered ones. Can't say that with 100% certainty, though. I'm not really an expert on that side of it; I just know in the past, the Dysons and Picketts that raced in ALMS were neutered for Sebring and Petit, and now I think there's a lot of tension between IMSA and ACO/FIA over 1) ACO/FIA not wanting LMPC and GTC at Sebring and 2) scheduling a race for the same weekend as Petit Le Mans. Now quite honestly, I am glad Petit won't be a WEC round, but obviously IMSA aren't, and they were successful in defending the C classes (you devalue their sponsorships when you take out Sebring, so you'd be hurting the grid for the entire season to not run them here, which is why they were adamant about doing it, whether you like those classes or not). I think now they're just going to have a million races within a race under a thousand different rules, which might actually be fun.

You can't cheer for Dyson's drivers, sorry. They're my team. :P

For this race, I'm really backing all the ALMS teams, because I love taking situations and turning them into us versus them (and then faulting others for making things us versus them). :lol:

My teams are Dyson (P1), Starworks (P2), Dempsey (PC), ESM (GT - wish they weren't racing ugly Ferraris, but I really like their drivers), and Corvette (GT - again, really like their drivers). Only teams I desperately don't want to win: Audi (P1), Level 5 (P2), BMW RLL (GT), and AF Waltrip (GT).

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On Risi: They were never going to run the American Le Mans Series this year, or the WEC. They had planned to run the F458 in Grand-Am full-time, but those plans may be in jeopardy (they are not yet entered in the next Grand-Am race; I have heard nothing either way), and they are now saying they may enter ALMS later in the season. The money was never there, and people kind of knew by the end of the 2011 season that they wouldn't be returning.

There were very nearly no Ferraris in ALMS; Extreme Speed Motorsports played with some alternative ideas (a Grand-Am team with IndyCar on the side), and then looked about buying BMW M3s from Rahal Letterman. Obviously they instead chose to continue in ALMS with F458 and field the other F458s in the North American Endurance Championship (Rolex 24, Six Hours of Watkins Glen, and the yet-to-be-named Indianapolis Grand-Am event).

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Though fans are skeptical about the LMPC class, drivers really enjoy racing the Oreca FLM09 Chevrolets. Memo Gidley, a Mexican-born American driver of Canadian and German ancestry, is one of those drivers, and he's very pleased with the Pickett Racing #5. This from a guy who has driven all sorts of sports cars, right up to LMP1, and the absolute monsters of late 90s/early 00s CART, though I suspect his Daytona Prototype experience is what really makes the LMPC fun for him, as it's slightly (a few tenths to a second per lap depending on the track) faster than a DP, but drives a lot nicer.

Gidley is a fan favorite, and he should be. He was homeless, living in his truck, for a portion of his early career, having sold everything else (which wasn't very much) to fund his racing dreams while he tried to support himself as a racecar mechanic. While he made it to CART, it was largely as a substitute. On paper, he got his first big chance replacing Nicolas Minassian at Ganassi in 2001; in reality, he was still showing up to the races in his truck with his firesuit, and making race-to-race deals with Chip. Every Sunday night, he was unemployed, and for the rest of 2001, Ganassi hired him for every race. Gidley scored three podium finishes, including a second in his second race, at Cleveland, and had he run a full season, his points production would have had him on pace to finish around eighth. Only five drivers led more laps than Gidley did in all of 2001, and they had six more races to lead laps in than he did.

Loved for his engaging personality, he's remembered by many Indy racing fans for this incident, where he broke his arm at Elkhart Lake:

GidleyRA.jpg

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Sebring practices today.

The time to beat is 1:48.192 from the February test, set by Pickett Racing...

And Audi did just that in the first session. 1:47.545 for car number one. Cars 3 and 2 were second and third, neither faster than the February time by Pickett's HPD, but that doesn't really matter. The OAK car was fourth, nearly five seconds off the fastest Audi, followed by Dyson, the top ranked ALMS runner in the session. Leading P2: Level 5 Motorsports' #95 HPD ARX-03b at 1:52.864. That's only five tenths off Dyson's time in P1...I wonder if in future ALMS rounds, we'll see a revival of the P1 battling P2 kind of stuff.

Fastest PC (ALMS only) was CORE Autosport's 05 at 1:55.600. Fastest GT is the 51 AF Corse Ferrari at 2:01.817. Fastest GT-AM (WEC only) is the 58 car that I can tell you nothing about (Ehret/Farnbacher/Jakubowski) at 2:03.279. Fastest GTC (ALMS-only) is the 30 which I can tell you nothing about either.

Session two...clean sweep for Audi, car 2 at 1:47.187. Fourth was Pickett (didn't run in the morning) at 1:50.231, off their February pace which would have put them third ahead of Audi 3 had they done it now. The Level 5 P2 paced class again, this time ahead of Dyson's new P1 Lola. The Level 5 #055 was second in class. Dempsey Racing, in their ALMS debut, paced PC in the afternoon. The Makowiecki/Melo/Vernay #59 led GT over Flying Lizard. That same 58 in GTE-AM, and in GTC the 34.

Struggling are Starworks, only got five laps in with their HPD ARX-03b, which Level 5 have shown is the fastest car in P2, faster even than some stout P1 entries.

I'll be glad to get these Audis out of here, but I really hope Pickett find the pace they had in February, because then they would be in contention with the Audis.

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Oh hey spotters' guides, should have looked at those when I was trying to identify WEC cars I was unfamiliar with on the timesheets. :lol:

http://www.spotterguides.com/2012-almswec/

You'll see Black Swan Racing did show up, last minute, with their LMP2. Really cool to see Jon Fogarty in that car; he's an absolute ace in Daytona Prototypes with GAINSCO. Not sure if Jeroen Bleekemolen will rejoin BSR for rounds not conflicting with WEC but I would hope so.

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New live timing link for all ALMS sessions this year: http://scoring.alms.com/

15 minutes to go in practice and the Audi dominance has been slightly broken up. Pickett Racing are up to third, still not as fast as February. Come on boys...you gotta dig deep this week, send them home crying.

Rebellion take fifth and sixth behind those four, Strakka seventh. P2 leader Level 5 continue their stranglehold on the class, eighth overall, though the driver I knew as João Barbosa, who was listed on the entry list as João Porto, is now being scored on live timing as João Bouchut. Steven Kane and the new Dyson are really lacking pace, eleventh overall and eighth in class. That's a big disappointment; they did receive Balance of Power regulations before the race, but I am not sure if those were supposed to help them or hurt them (seems to be the latter, but I don't know; they never tested publicly). Dempsey Racing continues to lead PC. Starworks lap count up to six from five yesterday. Yikes.

Jörg Bergmeister has the Lizard leading GT. Jordan Taylor turned a sixth place lap for Corvette in his debut. Timing and scoring lists the driver of the 71 Ferrari as "?? Driver 3 ??" He/she/it is fifth in class. Porsche 88 leads GTE-AM, ahead of some real GT cars. Robert Kauffman is third in GTE-AM, which tells me that GTE-AM must have some really, really terrible drivers. Carlos Kauffman leads GTC.

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Second Dyson coming after Sebring. It's last year's car, which was an even older car (naming convention suggestions 2009 but I think it was a 2010 model of the 2009 one), the B09/86 Mazda. Eric Lux and Mike Marsal drive. Dyson will also have a second car at Le Mans; not sure if they will have a second new Lola then, or if Lux/Marsal will be the driver pairing (I figure they may go with Guy Smith and Steven Kane in one car with a third pro like Leitzinger, then Chris Dyson with Lux/Marsal in the second car, as the entry list suggests Smith and Dyson would be split. Or switch Lux and Leitzinger, either way, maybe they simplify and go Smith/Dyson/Kane and Lux/Marsal/Cochran, no idea).

For things more relevant to this very weekend:

Audi swept the top three again in the last session, with Dyson's 016 finally finding pace in fourth. Strakka and Pickett follow. None of those three were even close to Audi, but I've said it a million times, Pickett can run their times, HPD beat all the Audis last year, it can be done. Top nine all LMP1s, best day for P1s so far, with Rebellion split by OAK.

Pecom got Level 5 by a very few small tenths. Third for Starworks, finally getting their HPD going, followed by the other Level 5 car.

The 05 continues to dominate LMPC. Colin Braun and Eric Lux are really, really talented drivers. I am glad Braun is back in sports cars, and I hope to see him graduate to P1/P2 soon. He has the stuff and it's rare that we see young talents in sports car racing, when many get recycled through years of other series before they end up here. Braun, and Kyle Marcelli, deserve to graduate from LMPC soon. Braun, admittedly, is in his first year of LMPC, though his running in Grand-Am compensates, I think, since DP and PC run about the same times.

Behind that LMPC were three P2s: Black Swan, Lotus, and Conquest.

JRM finally did some kind of something, P28 overall.

Right behind them, the AF Corse #51 paced GT. Just noticed Jonathan Summerton is in the RLL car with Hand and Müller. That's interesting, it really is. He's speedy, and must no longer have Mazda ties.

Krohn led GTE-AM.

34 led GTC.

They will have separate podium ceremonies WEC and ALMS, for the record. ALMS P1, WEC P1, ALMS P2, WEC P2, ALMS PC, ALMS GT, WEC GTE, WEC GTE-AM, and ALMS GTC. Yikes.

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As it happens, the great finish never happened.

Hand never lost the lead. The Ferrari he was battling, and the one that hit him, was Gianmari Bruni, who was something like 19 laps down.

Beretta never passed Hand, and spun at some point, losing second to Corvette.

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Alright, watch it closely:

Hand is battling with the lapped car of Bruni. Beretta is the second AF Corse car you can see trailing. Bruni hits Hand, and Beretta spins after checking up to avoid Hand. Magnussen passes the spinning Beretta. Bruni has a tire issue, and Hand goes past on the final corner. Beretta would have won with a last lap pass had he not spun, but because he did, Hand led the entire final lap.

Finally we have it all sorted. Thought it'd take twelve hours to understand the race. :P

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Alright, watch it closely:

Hand is battling with the lapped car of Bruni. Beretta is the second AF Corse car you can see trailing. Bruni hits Hand, and Beretta spins after checking up to avoid Hand. Magnussen passes the spinning Beretta. Bruni has a tire issue, and Hand goes past on the final corner. Beretta would have won with a last lap pass had he not spun, but because he did, Hand led the entire final lap.

Finally we have it all sorted. Thought it'd take twelve hours to understand the race. :P

Thought there was something that didn't quite add up watching that. The pictures, timing and the commentary didn't go together somehow. Typical John Hindhaugh, getting over excited about something. Or that foreign guy, because you linked to that clip without me checking before. :P

Still good action though. I enjoyed catching a lot of the race. I know you'll hate me for saying this, but it was cool the FIA and WEC streamed the race on their website. First few hours of the race were pretty poor quality though, so I used Justin. Hopefully they stream every WEC race online.

Shame Audi didn't face more competition - I seriously hope either the FIA further restrict the diesels or Toyota come out with an absolute rocket ship for Spa and Le Mans, otherwise it's going to be a dull 24 hours. But at least we can look forward to limitless supplies of excitement from P2 and GT. :P

Edited by JHS18

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The race was also streamed for non-U.S. audiences on alms.com. It was a different stream from the WEC one; it actually worked, probably, because they did it every race last year, too. Only time you should ever need Justin is if you're in the U.S., since we're blocked from the ALMS stream. WEC stream will probably be available to U.S. audiences now, though. Only blacked out here because Sebring was also an ALMS race.

I'm worried about the ALMS being a bit bland, too. Last year, Dyson and Pickett were evenly matched. This year, Pickett seem to be miles ahead. Of course, IMSA do Balance of Power a lot differently than ACO/FIA do, so I expect they'll even it out with their rules. At this pace, the second Dyson car, last year's, will be beating them. I expect the higher-end P2 entrants (Level 5, and Dempsey Racing with Michelin tires when they debut at Laguna Seca) to contend with Dyson and perhaps Pickett at tracks like Long Beach and Lime Rock, as they used to do a few years ago.

Heard this will be the last time WEC come to Sebring. Presenting that without comment. Just a rumor.

Tough with Le Mans that Pickett won't be there; they were the closest thing Audi had, and could ultimately be within a few tenths of them. Over a 24 hour race, you never really know what kind of troubles teams are going to get into, so it's not like they couldn't mix it up there and as they get used to their new car, they'll go faster. Have to hope that Toyota bring something good, and that the European HPDs can get as fast as Pickett have their HPD going.

Not the best race, not the worst. Long Beach next for ALMS, 7:30 PM ET April 14 live in the United States on ESPN2. Past Jimmy's bedtime, but as always, it'll be streamed on alms.com for those outside the U.S., and ESPN3, for those within who subscribe. 3 P1, 4 P2 entered.

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