GT Racing is out of this world

October 1, 2011

GT Racing is out of this world

October 1, 2011

You do not need a telescope or a ticket on Spaceship One to see some of the best racing on the planet.

Just follow the GT class battle in the 10-Hour/1000-mile Petit Le Mans here at Road Atlanta. Top Corvette, Porsche, Ferrari, BMW, Jaguar and Ford teams race production-derived Grand Touring cars in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS).

Intense competition in the 2011 season has earned the GT competition acclaim from racing insiders, media and newcomers alike.

Rather than a class dominated by one or two teams, five different teams representing four manufacturers and three tiremakers have scored class wins through the first eight rounds of the 2011 ALMS.

BMW and Porsche have three wins each while Corvette’s Oliver Gavin and Jan Magnussen scored the victory at Mosport.

Risi Competizione’s Ferrari took the win at with Jaime Melo and Toni Vilander. Add in Corvette’s big victory with Tommy Milner, Olivier Beretta and Antonio Garcia at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Ferrari’s lead in the Intercontinental Le Mans Challenge with Gianmaria Bruni and Giancarlo Fisichella, and you get the fuller picture of the level of competition in GT racing in 2011.

Nine different cars have at least one GT podium finish in the first eight ALMS races. BMW Team RLL opened the ALMS season with three consecutive wins and followed with a consistent and perhaps slightly restrained run to consolidate the team and driver championships for Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller.

With seven poles in eight races, BMW certainly has the speed to claim victory here, but arrives at Petit Le Mans with two objectives: Secure the ALMS GT manufacturer title for BMW and avoid incurring further performance restrictions for the 2012 season.

Porsche has been on quite a roll of late. Walker Racing/Falken Porsche of Wolf Henzler and Bryan Sellers, and the Flying Lizard Porsche of Patrick Long and Joerg Bergmeister have taken three victories in the last four races, with the Lizardmen winning the latest round in Monterey.

The launch of the new Ferrari 458 Italia has kept the Risi squad and the Extreme Speed Motorsports team hard at work to build the book on the new car’s characteristics in a steady march to the speed and consistency that comes only from miles of testing and race-week development.

Corvette is the defending Petit Le Mans GT champion and poised to repeat. So to set the scene: BMW and Porsche have three ALMS wins each, Corvette is the defending Petit Le Mans champion and – has one ALMS win and the victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and Ferrari has a very impressive new car, one win in ALMS and leads in the Intercontinental Le Mans Challenge championship.

In the most recent ALMS round in Monterey, three different GT cars led during the final three laps of the six-hour race. No wonder the consensus is that the 2011 ALMS GT competition has been out of this world.

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