BRASELTON, Ga. — It’s never too early to look at the championship picture in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón. Through two rounds, all five classes feature battles with close margins — razor-thin in most cases.
Next week’s American Le Mans Monterey at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will go a long way toward further determining this year’s championship contenders. Because of the extended duration of the race on Saturday, May 11 — four hours —the contest features two additional championship points per position.
P1: Opening the season at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the No. 12 Rebellion Timepieces/Lemo Connectors/Speedy Garage Lola-Toyota of Rebellion Racing was the highest-finishing ALMS regular. The No. 6 Muscle Milk Honda Performance Development ARX-03a pairing of Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr won the Tequila Patrón ALMS at Long Beach while Rebellion’s Nick Heidfeld and Neel Jani came in second. That leaves ties in four of the class’s title races — drivers, teams, chassis manufacturer (HPD vs. Lola) and engine manufacturer (HPD vs. Toyota).
GT: With two races down, BMW and Chevrolet are in the proverbial driver’s seat in the ALMS’ deepest and most competitive class. Defending champions Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner from Corvette Racing started the season with a win at Sebring in the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6 ZR1. BMW Team RLL’s Bill Auberlen and Maxime Martin moved into a tie with a victory at Long Beach in the only the second race in their new No. 55 BMW North America, LLC/Crowne Plaza BMW Z4 GTE. The two squads share the lead in the team championship.
P2: Level 5 Motorsports and Extreme Speed Motorsports are tied in the team standings with one victory each in their HPD prototypes; Level 5 drivers Scott Tucker, Ryan Briscoe and Marino Franchitti won at Sebring in the No. 551 Siemens/Alpina Watches/Ohiya Casino Resort HPD ARX-03b for the third straight year in class, and ESM triumphed in just its second P2 race when it won at Long Beach with co-drivers Scott Sharp and Guy Cosmo in the No. 01 Tequila Patrón HPD prototype. Only four points separate seven competitors in the drivers’ race, including two-time and defending class champion Tucker.
PC: Thanks to a class win at Sebring and runner-up finish at Long Beach, PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports has an early lead over defending class champion CORE autosport. The top three teams – PR1/Mathiasen, CORE and BAR1 Motorsports — are within 10 points of each other. With his victory alongside David Cheng and David Ostella at Sebring in the No. 52 Molecule ORECA FLM09, PR1’s Michael Guasch leads in the driver championship by eight points over CORE’s Colin Braun, who co-drove the No. 05 Composite Resources ORECA with Jon Bennett to the PC victory at Long Beach.
GTC: Aside from P1, this is the most topsy-turvy points battle so far. Only four points separate seven drivers – including defending class champion Cooper MacNeil and Long Beach winners Sean Edwards and Henrique Cisneros. MacNeil won at Sebring in the No. 22 WeatherTech Porsche 911 GT3 Cup alongside co-drivers Jeroen Bleekemolen and Dion von Moltke, while Edwards and Cisneros took the No. 30 MOMO Porsche 911 GT3 Cup to victory Long Beach. The team standings are just as close with NGT Motorsport, Flying Lizard Motorsports and Alex Job Racing all within three points.