Ready for the Last Lap

October 13, 2013

Ready for the Last Lap

October 13, 2013

last lap photoAnd then there were two…or maybe three, but certainly no more than four.

After nine events, 1,185 laps, and 3,362 miles of competition, the 2013 American Le Mans Series Championship battles have, in several cases, been narrowed down to just two rivals.

Championships are made to be won and there are those, especially teams and drivers with nothing to lose, who will rise to the challenge.

With 24 points to the Petit Le Mans class winners of the 10 Hour/1000 mile race here on a fast, tight Road Atlanta circuit filled with endless traffic, anyone mathematically still alive for a championship is a threat. The risk of a DNF or poor finish weighs heavily on the current point leaders, some of whom are new to the pressures of a title deciding race.

In the P1 top prototype class, the 2013 ALMS Manufacturer, Team and Driver championship trophies are already engraved. Muscle Milk Pickett Racing Honda and drivers Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr have successfully defended all their titles, and dominated the season currently riding an ALMS record of eight consecutive race wins.

The P2 driver championship hover is very much on the line here as Level 5 Motorsports boss Scott Tucker holds a narrow six point lead over former ALMS P1 champ Scott Sharp of Extreme Speed Motorsports. Level 5 has already put the lock on the P2 team title.

In the intergalactic battle that has seen six different cars from four manufacturers take GT class victories, the GT driver championship is down to two. Corvette Racing’s Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia hold a 16 point edge over BMW Team RLL’s strongman Dirk Mueller.

Chevrolet and Corvette Racing have already put away their seventh ALMS GT Manufacturer and Team titles in the last ten years and the team’s 2012 GT driver champions Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner stand third, but are 25 points out.

Two is not the number in the single spec PC class where four teams are still in ALMS championship contention.  The 2011 and 2012 PC champs from CORE autosport are deadlocked for the team title with PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports while BAR1 Motorsports is just seven points down. Performance Tech Motorsports completes the foursome as it trails by 18 points.

On the PC driver front, Mike Guasch has an 11 point edge over Chris Cumming, while Jonathan Bennett is a single point further back. Tristan Nunez trails Guasch by 18.

In GTC, where single specification Porsche 911s unite, Alex Job Racing’s Jeroen Bleekemolen and Cooper MacNeil hold a 13 point edge on Henrique Cisneros of NGT Motorsport and 16 points over Flying Lizards’ Nelson Canache Jr. and Spencer Pumpelly.

The GTC team championship has a slightly different order as Flying Lizard holds a two point edge over the AJR squad with NGT trailing the Lizards by 15 markers.

Michelin has won the ALMS Tire Championships in the P1, P2 and GT classes as their technical partner teams are undefeated in those three classes in 2013.

Teams must complete 70 percent of the winner’s distance to be eligible for points.

Here, in recent years championships have literally been won and lost on the last lap. It will be no surprise if the final championships in ALMS history are determined on the final lap of the final race.

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