2010 is the twelfth season of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). The schedule includes nine North American events and is similar to the previous year’s calendar with two major exceptions. The Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca event moves from October to May and the Saint Petersburg race has been dropped from the schedule. The season kicks off with the 58th edition of the 12 Hours of Sebring. It is followed by Long Beach, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Miller Motorsport Park, Lime Rock, Mid-Ohio, Road America, Mosport Park and the season finale at Road Atlanta.

Initially, the ALMS classes and rules were the aligned with those used by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest at the 24 Hour of Le Mans. Beginning in 2009, changes were made to the classes participating in the series. To address cost concerns, additional adjustments were made to the groups in 2010.

  • Le Mans Prototype (LMP) – For 2010, the LMP1 and LMP2 classes were combined. The series technical staff made changes to the rules to allow these two groups to compete on a level playing ground. Teams enter cars such as the Lola B09/60, HPD ARX 01c, Lola B09/86, Porsche RS Spyder and Lola B06/10. A number of different engine options are available.
  • Le Mans Prototype Challenge (LMPC) – Also new for 2010 is the Le Mans Prototype Challenge class – introduced to provide an entry-level category for new and gentlemen drivers. This is a spec class that uses the ORECA FLM09 chassis. The cars are powered by a Chevrolet LS3 engine which produces approximately 485-horsepower.
  • Grand Touring (GT) – In the new year, the former GT2 class was renamed GT. This group includes production based vehicles such as the Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, Porsche GT3 RSR, BMW M3, Jaguar XKRS, Ferrari F430 GTE and Ford GT-R.
  • Grand Touring Challenge (GTC) – In 2009, the GTC class was introduced. This category is a spec class for Porsche GT3 Cup cars.

The championships are decided by awarding points to the top ten cars and drivers that complete at least 70-percent of their class winner's distance. To earn points, competitors are required to drive a minimum amount of time (45-minutes except Long Beach which is set at 30-minutes) and a minimum number of laps (dependent on the size of the racetrack).

Teams that enter the full season are awarded points towards team championships. The championship-winning teams earn an automatic entry to the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans but the cars must conform to Automobile Club de l’Ouest regulations for LMP1, LMP2 and GT categories.

Round six of the 2010 American Le Mans Series was conducted at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in early August. Thirty-three entries were scheduled to compete on the thirteen-turn 2.258-mile road course for two-hours, forty-five minutes. Unfortunately, the Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder driven by team principal, Greg Pickett suffered severe damage during the Thursday’s test session. Pickett was injured and the car was withdrawn.

The first lap through ‘The Carousel’ and Clint Field in the No. 37 Lola B06/10 leads after jumping from his fourth starting position. Behind Field is the Dyson Racing Lola B09/86 of the second fastest qualifier, Chris Dyson. Trailing these two is the Patron Highcroft Racing HPD ARX-01c shared by Simon Pagenaud and David Brabham. Field and his father, Jon would lead the contest until they retired with an engine problem.
Scott Tucker and his co-driver, Christophe Bouchut were the class of the Le Mans Prototype Challenge field. The duo had three class victories in the first five events and led the title chase. At Mid-Ohio, Bouchut put the Level 5 Motorsports Oreca on the class pole. The pair dominated the race – winning their category by a lap and finishing third overall.
Almost a second slower than the pole-winning Drayson entry was the Lola B09/86 of Dyson Racing. Chris Dyson qualified the Lola and would be sharing the driving duties with Guy Smith. The pair inherited the lead of the race when the engine in the Intersport Lola failed. Despite pressure from the Patron Highcroft Racing HPD ARX 01c they held on for the victory. This was Dyson’s first overall victory since 2005.
Second quickest in the Grand Touring qualifying was the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 430 GT shared by Gianmaria Bruni and Jaime Melo. With less than fifty-minutes left in the race, Melo and the team decided to change just two tires during the final stop. That decision put the Ferrari ahead of the No. 4 Corvette. And, then Melo passed the two class-leading BMWs for first place. Despite pressure from the Corvette, he won.
Tim Pappas and Jeroen Bleekemolen topped the Grand Touring Challenge timesheets in Thursday’s test, the two practice sessions and qualifying. Porsche Supercup competitor, Bleekemolen handled the qualifying and earned his fourth-consecutive class pole. Pappas started the race but was hit by the Hines/Miller entry. Before the pit-stop, he moved from last to second and during his stint, Bleekemolen took the lead and win.
Winning his first ALMS pole and setting a new Mid-Ohio lap record was Jonny Cocker. Cocker would share the Lola B09/60 with team owner, Paul Dryson. At the start, Cocker dropped back to fourth but remained in contention. At the pit-stop, Drayson took over but went off course while lapping a slower GTC entry. The Lola’s suspension was damaged and repairs were made but the car was uncompetitive.
Third quickest overall and in the Prototype category was Simon Pagenaud driving the Patron Highcroft Racing HPD ARX 01c. During the race, Pagenaud along with his co-driver, David Brabham inherited second place when the Intersport Lola retired. They challenged the race leading Dyson Lola but could not make the pass and fell short of the victory by just 0.506-seconds.
Prior to the race weekend, Corvette Racing spent two days testing at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Quicker of the two entries was the No. 4 of Oliver Gavin and Olivier Berretta which would be gridded third for the start. Gavin drove the final stint and was passed by the Ferrari of Melo and Bruni during the last pit-stop. He chased, Melo and closed within 0.582-seconds at the checkered flag – finishing second in class.
Grand Touring Challenge qualifying for the GMG Racing prepared Porsche 911 GT3 was performed by James Sofronas. During the session, Sofronas was third quickest - only 0.775-seconds slower than the pole-sitter, Jeroen Bleekemoen. Sharing the No. 32 with Sofronas was Bret Curtis. When the second place entry retired from the race, Sofronas and Curtis inherited the position and recorded their best finish of the season.
Showing good speed at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course was the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca FLM09 shared by Ricardo Gonzalez and former Grand-Am competitor, Luis Diaz. In qualifying, Diaz was the second quickest driver in the Le Mans Prototype Challenge category. They finished in the runner-up position – a good showing for their first Le Man Prototype Challenge race of the season.
Toni Vilander scored his second Grand Touring pole-position for Risi Racing driving the No. 61 Ferrari 430 GT. Sharing the Ferrari with Vilander was Giancarlo Fisichella who drove the final stint. With just ten minutes left in the contest, Fisichella had contact with another Grand Touring competitor. Suspension damage caused by the accident led to the retirement of the car.
The only team that appeared to be a threat to the Level 5 Motorsports entry in the Le Mans Prototype Challenge category were Gunnar Jeannette and Elton Julian. Jeannette and Julian drove an Oreca entered by Green Earth Team Gunnar and had victories at Long Beach and Lime Rock. In qualifying, Jeannette recorded the fourth quickest time. During the race, they had moved to first in class but fell to third by the checker.
The No. 23 Alex Job Racing prepared Grand Touring Challenge Porsche 911 GT3 was qualified by Bill Sweedler. Sweedler and his teammate, Romeo Kapudija were gridded fifth in class for the start of the race. During the event, the pair moved in front of the Velox Motorsport and Orbit Racing entries. They captured the final spot on the podium - finishing just 0.247-seconds behind the runner-ups – Sofronas and Curtis.
Joey Hand shared the No. 92 Rahal Letterman Racing BMW M3 with Bill Auberlen and qualified the car seventh quickest in the Grand Touring category. Despite an off-track excursion for Auberlen, an excellent race strategy kept the BMW in contention. With less the fifty-minutes left in the contest, the pair lost the lead to the quicker No. 62 Ferrari and was passed by the Gavin/Beretta Corvette. They held on to finish third.

POS.CLASSDRIVERSCARLAPSRETIREMENTS
1LMPDyson / SmithLola B09/86 Mazda119-
2LMPPagenaud / BrabhamHPD ARX-01c Honda119-
3LMPCTucker / BouchutOreca FLM09115-
4LMPBurgess / WillmanLola B06/10 AER114-
5LMPCGonzalez / DiazOreca FLM09114-
6LMPCJulian / JeannetteOreca FLM09113-
7LMPCWong / MarcelliOreca FLM09113-
8LMPCTucker / WallaceOreca FLM09113-
9GTMelo / BruniFerrari 430 GT112-
10GTBeretta / GavinChevrolet Corvette C6.R112-
11GTAuberlen / MilnerBMW M3112-
12GTBergmeister / LongPorsche GT3 RSR112-
13GTSharp / Van OverbeekFerrari 430 GT112-
14GTMuller / HandBMW M3 GT112-
15LMPCZugel / MontecalvoOreca FLM09111-
16GTNeiman / PiletPorsche GT3 RSR111-
17GTHenzler / SellersPorsche GT3 RSR110-
18GTGentilozzi / GoossensJaguar XKR-S107-
19GTCPappas / BleekemolenPorsche GT3 Cup106-
20GTCCurtis / SofronasPorsche GT3 Cup105-
21GTCSweedler / KapudijaPorsche GT3 Cup105-
22GTCHines / MillerPorsche GT3 Cup105-
23GTCVento / LewisPorsche GT3 Cup103-
24GTCPumpelly / RichardPorsche GT3 Cup103-
25GTCBeggs / BaronPorsche GT3 Cup103-
26LMPField / FieldLola B06/10 AER100Mechanical
27GTVilander / FisichellaFerrari 430 GT100Mechanical
28GTBrown / CosmoFerrari 430 GT96Accident
29GTMurry / RobertsonFord GT-R96-
30GTO'Connell / MagnussenChevrolet Corvette C6.R49Mechanical
31LMPBuncombe / PrendevilleRadical RS944Mechanical
32LMPDrayson / CockerLola B09/60 Judd39Accident
33LMPPickett / GrafPorsche RS Spyder0Did Not Start


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