GT Class – Getting Crowded

July 4, 2012

GT Class – Getting Crowded

July 4, 2012

The hottest, most competitive class in sportscar racing worldwide sees frequent lead changes and nose-to-tail full race fights for the top several spots, but something curious seems to happen when the race ends: Corvette Racing and BMW Team RLL are monopolizing the early season podiums.

Through the first three races of the 2012 American Le Mans Series GT class competition, BMW and Corvette have scored eight of the nine podium positions and 11 of the top 12 finishes.

Corvette Racing’s Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin arrive at Lime Rock Park after consecutive GT class wins at Long Beach and Monterey following a season-opening Sebring third-place finish.

Defending ALMS GT champions BMW Team RLL and drivers Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller have a 2012 Sebring win followed by second and fourth place runs.

Meanwhile, Corvette’s Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia have a pair of seconds to sandwich their fourth place run at Long Beach.  BMW’s Bill Auberlen and Joerg Müller carry a third at Monterey and a fourth at Sebring on their scorecard.

The only intruder on this seemingly private podium party is the Extreme Speed Ferrari of Scott Sharp and Johannes van Overbeek. They led much of the first half of the Long Beach race and claimed the final podium spot. The pair also notched a fifth place finish at Monterey.

Porsche has been conspicuously and surprisingly absent from the GT podium through the first three races as both the Flying Lizard and Falken squads look to follow up their second-half 2011 wins in 2012.

The highest Porsche finish to date belongs to the Paul Miller Porsche driven by Sascha Maassen and Bryce Miller. They scored a fifth at Sebring, while the Flying Lizard Porsche of former champions Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long was sixth at Monterey.

Rule changes for 2012 have produced new, wider cars and taller tires for Michelin teams that require new race set-ups. The early results are, in part, reflective of adapting to the impact of those changes.

While the early season results for Corvette Racing and BMW are impressive, they are by no means an indicator of what to expect for the summer stretch of the ALMS season that kicks back off here at LRP.

A massive seven-week long break for the recently contested 24 Hours of Le Mans provides many opportunities for testing and development for the remaining races. With top teams from Porsche, BMW, Corvette, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Lotus, and, soon, SRT Viper and four different tire makers, the 2012 GT battles have actually just begun.

Want proof? In 2011, BMW dominated the early going, taking three consecutive wins, but Porsche, Corvette and Ferrari combined to win all of the remaining events.

Spicing the mix is the recent debut of the Lotus Evora entry by the multi-time ALMS GT champion Alex Job Racing squad. Meanwhile, a highly anticipated pair of factory SRT Viper entries from Riley Technologies is being prepared to join the GT fray within the next few races.

“The ALMS GT competition has been tremendous. There are so many great teams, drivers and manufacturers and we are all working hard because we all want to win,” said Silvia Mammone, Michelin motorsports manager.

“The GT field keeps getting deeper and deeper, but there are still just three spots on the podium, so competition can only get more fierce and securing a podium finish even tougher.”

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