Despite losing Audi for the 2009 season, the American Le Mans Series still has a lot to celebrate. For one, as we told you yesterday, Acura is on hand this week at the Winter Test event for the 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with its new LMP1 racer. The good news is that midway through the second day of on-track testing, one of the two Acura racers has the fastest lap time so far of 1:44:814 (126.723 mph) around Sebring's 3.7-mile circuit. Despite the good first showing of these ARX-02a prototype LMP1 race cars, the ARX-01b cars that raced last year in the LMP2 class were still turning in lap times that were often just as fast as their bigger brothers.
Also of worthy of celebration during the first two days of winter testing is the emergence of the BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team and its M3 GT2 car. This is the first track outing for the M3 GT2 since it was announced less than a year ago at the 2008 Chicago Auto Show. The 12 Hours of Sebring, which also kicks off the 2009 ALMS season, will be its first contest against the likes of Porsche, Ferrari, Viper, Aston Martin, Panoz and even a Ford GT in the GT2 class.
The 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring takes place March 18-21 and, along with the above new competitors, will be the only time that Audi races on North American soil this year with its brand new R15 TDI.