Trackside Tidbits – LMPC Preview

March 18, 2010

Trackside Tidbits – LMPC Preview

March 18, 2010

The Green Earth Team Gunnar Oreca FLM09 entry is one of six entries in the LMPC class this weekend. Photo credit: Rick Dole

The Le Mans Prototype Challenge class has bolstered the prototype field in advance of Sebring’s season opener. The ALMS’ newest class (of five this race and four the remainder of the season) sees six Oreca FLM09 entries on MICHELIN® tires.

Ordinarily there would only be eight prototypes in the field since the Intersport Racing P1 Lola B06-10 AER has withdrawn on account of Jon Field’s Monday testing accident, but the six LMPC cars make it a solid 14 in the race.

The class had its introduction Wednesday in a debrief led by IMSA Vice President of Operations Scot Elkins, who informed them of official rules and regulations, and also Michelin’s role in getting the class off the ground.

The rules stipulate only one of the three drivers for this race can be classified as “pro.” That said, the regulations for drivers still allow some rather large names the opportunity to race in this class.

Case in point, Genoa Racing, the longtime open-wheel operation owned by Angelo Ferro and managed by Thomas Knapp, has the services of two-time Sebring winner Andy Wallace, 2009 Indy Lights champion J.R. Hildebrand, and Tom Sutherland, who has one prior Sebring start (2008 in a GT2 Panoz Esperante).

Another strong effort is from Level 5 Motorsports, a late entrant to the field but with two cars, the only team in the class to do so. Team owner and driver Scott Tucker is listed as a driver for both cars, with co-drivers including Christophe Bouchut, Marc Wilkins, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and James Gue.

Hunter-Reay’s busy 2010 schedule has also included racing for Tucker in Grand-Am and racing in IndyCar, and noted how impressed he was with Tucker’s organization.

“These guys know how to do it right,” Hunter-Reay said. “They’ve done a lot in a very short time.”

Green Earth Team Gunnar sees the return of ALMS veteran Gunnar Jeannette to competition. Jeannette was the first to test the Oreca FLM09 on American soil, during the week at last year’s Petit Le Mans.

Now, long-time fans will recognize his No. 99 entry and Green Earth Technologies sponsorship as representing a striking resemblance to the well-liked “crocodile” color scheme Audi ran in the New Year’s Eve 2000 race at Adelaide, Australia.

Although Intersport lost its P1 entry and it also ends a 13-year streak of starts for Jon Field at Sebring, the team still has an LMPC entry for Mitch Pagerey, Brian Wong and David Ducote.

Primetime Racing Group completes the field this weekend, a veteran ALMS team advancing to prototypes after racing a Dodge Viper in GT2 the last few seasons. Team owner Joel Feinberg is one of the drivers, paired with 20-year-old Kyle Marcelli for the season and another ex-Viper racer, Tom Weickardt, this weekend.

“It was the case of right place, right time for me,” Marcelli said. “It’s a big step up because these prototypes are completely different from the IMSA Lights.”

Marcelli previously competed in the IMSA Lights division and has also earned accolades for his records in go-karting.

Latest Photos

Latest Video

A memorable IMSA season ended with the excitement of Motul Petit Le Mans

Wednesday October 18, 2023