The GT Fight … Race What You Sell
The GT Fight … Race What You Sell
In a world of single spec series gone mad, imagine a competition where the world’s top manufacturers race their latest cars on a level playing field. Think Porsche, Ferrari, Corvette, BMW, and Jaguar each with multiple car teams based on real cars. Sounds cool, right?
Now, add premier teams like Risi Competizione, Flying Lizard Motorsports, Corvette Racing (Pratt & Miller), Team Rahal Letterman Lanigan, Extreme Speed Motorsports, Walker Racing, Jaguar RSR and West Racing.
Stir in a who’s who international driver line-up and four different tire makers and, Voila! You have the 2011 American Le Mans Series GT competition.
How tough is it? In a bid to claim the 2010 GT manufacturer’s title, Ferrari drafted in recent F1 refugee Giancarlo Fisichella to co-drive the second car at Risi Competizione.
The Indy 500 winning RLL (BMW) team had but a single win in each of its first two seasons.
The six-time Le Mans winning Corvette Racing team has two wins in 14 starts since switching to the class in mid-2009.
Want more? The 2010 GT driver, manufacturer and team championship were literally decided in the final mile of the final lap at the final race.
Media, fans, manufacturers, teams and drivers seem to agree that the ALMS GT class has some of the best racing in the world today.
Leading the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR contingent is the Sonoma-based Flying Lizard Motorsports team.
Factory drivers Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long, the 2009 and 2010 Long Beach GT winners and ALMS Driver co-champions, are aboard the #45. Darren Law and team leader Seth Neiman co-drive the #44 FLM Porsche. Both cars are Michelin technical partners.
Hoping to add support in the manufacturer championship fight is the second year entry from Falken Motorsports, now led by longtime IndyCar team guru Derrick Walker.
Wheeling the #17 Porsche is factory ace Wolf Henzler and American Bryan Sellers. Stepping up from the single-spec Porsche GT Challenge series in a Yokohama fitted car is the Paul Miller Racing #48 entry for Bryce Miller.
The Prancing Horse hopes will ride aboard a trio of stunning new Michelin fitted Ferrari 458 Italias with the traditional red #62 for three-time Le Mans winners Risi Competizione of Houston and factory drivers Jaime Melo of Brazil and Finland’s Toni Vilander.
Bolstering the Ferrari charge for the title is a pair of stunning Patrón green 458s from the rapidly developing Extreme Speed Motorsports team led by former IndyCar and ALMS Prototype champion Scott Sharp.
Joining Sharp aboard the #01 is Oakland’s Johannes van Overbeek, while Guy Cosmo and Patrón CEO Ed Brown share the identical #02 for the Stuart, Florida-based squad.
The American iron in GT here at Long Beach comes in the form of a potent pair of Michelin fitted “Velocity Yellow” Corvette C6 ZR1s. Virginia’s Tommy Milner joins Olivier Beretta of Monaco aboard the #3 Corvette, while England’s Oliver Gavin and Denmark’s Jan Magnussen shoe the #4. Corvette Racing has three victories here on the streets of Long Beach.
Opening the 2011 ALMS season with an impressive 1-2 finish at the Twelve Hours of Sebring, the fresh BMW M3s with Dunlops for Dirk Mueller and American Joey Hand in the #56 and teammates Dirk Werner and Bill Auberlen in the #55 are the early favorites here in Long Beach.
After a disappointing inaugural campaign in 2010, Trans Am ace Paul Gentilozzi’s Jaguar XKRs from JaguarRSR are looking to make big strides in 2011, adding a second car, switching from Yokohama to Dunlop shoes, and bringing in former IndyCar stars Cristiano da Matta and Bruno Junqueira of Brazil in the # 98 and Torrance’s own PJ Jones teamed with Gentilozzi in the #99.
Jumping into the deep end of the GT shark pool for 2011 is the new West Yokohama Racing team with the #08 Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560-4 for The Netherlands’ Nicky Pastorelli and Germany’s Dominik Schwager.
This story appears in the Long Beach issue of The Alley, available online as a PDF on MichelinAlley.com and at the track at the Long Beach street circuit.