Motorsports this weekend: March 18-19
North American TV coverage is shown below (all times Eastern), but check tvracer.com for complete listings.
American Le Mans Series:
The Mobil 12 hours of Sebring kicks off the '06 ALMS season in fine style on Saturday, with Audi breaking in its new diesel-engined R10 P1 prototypes in a 12 hour shakedown run for the 24 hours of Le Mans in June. So far all is going according to plan, with the two R10s qualifying on the front row of the grid (pole-sitter Allan McNish is shown above The sleepers in the chase for overall victory could be Penske Racing's two Porsche Spyders. The Porsche P2 prototypes occupy the second row of the grid, qualifying ahead of all of the theoretically faster P1-class prototypes except the Audis.
[Much more racing after the jump...] In GT1, the two Aston Martin DBR9s are off to a good start in their quest to defend last year's class title, qualifying ahead of the two GM Racing Corvette C6Rs. Last year the teams ran nose to tail for much of the race, and this could be the battle to watch in this year's race.
GT2 could see an end to the dominance of the ubiquitous Porsche GT3Rs, with this year's class pole captured by David Brabham's Panoz Esperante GTLM, just a tenth of a second ahead of the shiny new Ferrari F430GT of Risi Competizione's Ralf Kelleners. The fastest Porsche qualified fourth, behind the second Panoz. Nonetheless, odds are the bulletproof Porsche's will emerge victorious after 12 hours on the punishing Sebring runways.
Saturday 10:30am (live) on SPEED Channel.
The second of the season-opening "fly-away" races is happening in Sepang, Malaysia this weekend. Tropical heat will make managing engine and tire temperatures a challenge for the teams, while the track design is particularly hard on brakes. In recent years, Ferrari and Renault have qualified well here, but Honda's Anthony Davidson topped the timesheets in the second free practice Friday, giving Jenson Button some encouragement as he looks for his first GP win.
With the durability of the new V8s in question under the FIA's misguided two-race rule, we will probably see very little of the race drivers during practice, with Sauber's Villeneuve complaining that he's rationed to only 11 practice laps for an entire weekend. By the same token, practice times are largely meaningless, with teams running low rev limits to save their engines.
Sunday 1:30am live on SPEED Channel. Replayed at 12:30pm Sunday if you value your sleep.
This weekend's action is the Golden Corral 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Last year Carl Edwards scored his first Cup victory here, and he could use a good result this weekend to move up from his 23rd place standing in the points, a whopping 253 points back of leader Jimmie Johnson.
Sunday 1pm on FOX.
The straight-line racers are competing in the 37th running of the ACDelco Gatornationals this weekend in Gainesville, Florida. The early March event combines a good track, cool temperatures and near sea-level altitude for potential record-setting performances. Gainesville was the site for the NHRA's first 300 mph run, and we may see new records this weekend.
Sunday, 5pm on ESPN2.
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