Sebring '08 Preview: Full speed ahead on fuel diversity!

The American Le Mans Series kicks off its 2008 season next weekend with the 56th running of the 12 Hours of Sebring in central Florida. The ALMS has long had the most diverse field of race cars of any major series in North America and this year it's getting even more so as the series makes a push for greener racing. This is the only series that has cars running on three different fuels; gasoline, ethanol and diesel all play a major part. In the LMP1 class, Audi is kicking off its third year running the diesel-powered R10 TDI. They'll get competition this time from Peugeot, which is bringing one of their 908 HDi prototypes to race in the U.S. for the first time.

In the production-derived GT1 ranks, the Corvette C6Rs will tackle an Aston Martin DBR9 with all of them using cellulosic E85 fuel. The same fuel will also power an LMP1 Lola entered by Intersport racing. The rest of the field for now will continue using the E10 ethanol/gasoline blend that was used in 2007. As the season progresses and going into 2009, other teams are likely to make the switch to E85 and possibly even diesel. Although Honda representatives were non-committal at the Detroit Auto Show, it appears that they are looking hard at diesel power especially as they are about to introduce a diesel-powered Acura TSX in the U.S. next year. ALMS officials are also encouraging other alternative powertrains, such as hybrids, and they are open to looking at all options. When the 2008 draws to a close at the Petite Le Mans race at Road Atlanta this fall, ALMS will also introduce their first Green Challenge that will measure a variety of sustainability efforts by teams in addition to their on-track performance and fuel efficiency. ALMS officials are working hard to encourage innovation and diversity in the field that can help advance powertrain and fuel technology. For those of us who enjoy motorsports it's by far the most interesting and exciting series to watch and I for one will be among the happy spectators this year.

[Source: American Le Mans Series]

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