With Champ Car going the way of the dodo bird after this year's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, it looks like the American Le Mans Series is poised to take over top billing at America's Monte Carlo. The street course around downtown Long Beach, California is quite a track, with a long tradition of motorsport excitement. Everything from Formula 1 to CART to Trans-Am have run here, but very few series can match the thrill of four different classes running into the dusk like the ALMS presents. This year's sophomore running of the Tequila Patrón American Le Mans Series at Long Beach showed exactly why the series deserves more support and coverage than it gets. Not only was the on-track action enthralling, but the huge crowds that Long Beach always attracts seemed to go ga-ga over the prototypes and GT cars wearing names like Porsche, Aston Martin, Corvette and Ferrari. In case you haven't seen the race yet, the results are after the jump. Don't let that stop you from clicking through the massive high-res gallery however.
All photos Copyright ©2008 Frank Filipponio / Weblogs, Inc.
Hard to imagine that an Audi 1-2 can be considered a surprise, but because their torque gets wasted on tight (and slippery) street circuits, they haven't had much success on those types of courses. Until now. In fact, it had been almost a year since the Audi R10 TDIs finished an overall 1-2 at all, but that was the case this weekend when Marco Werner led teammate Emanuele Pirro by just under 2 seconds to take the checkers in Long Beach.
After qualifying 6th and 7th, the Audis stayed behind the P2 Porsches and Acuras until about 11 minutes to go. That's when Werner finally passed Penske's Romain Dumas in the Porsche RS Spyder, with Pirro following soon after. David Brabham managed to push the Patrón Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-01B into third on the penultimate lap and held on to finish a second ahead of the Porsches, giving Acura their first win since their debut victory at Sebring last year.
When the Aston Martin crashed during practice, GT1 became a one-make race again, with Johnny O'Connell and Jan Magnussen scoring the win over the Corvette Racing sister car of Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin. Although it wasn't much of a race, it's still impressive to see these 'Vettes hammering away, finishing just one lap down on the prototypes. And man do they sound mean doing it.
The battle of the day, however, had to be the GT2 race. When the checkered flag flew, it was the second straight victory for the Tafel Racing Ferrari F430 GT, with Dirk Mueller outsprinting the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Wolf Henzler down the front straight. The margin of victory was just 0.102 seconds, the second closest in ALMS history. Patrick Pilet was a close third in another Lizard. Next up for the ALMS will be Utah on Sunday, May 18.
Tequila Patrón American Le Mans Series at Long Beach
Long Beach street circuit, Long Beach, Calif.
1. (6) Lucas Luhr, Germany; Marco Werner, Germany; Audi AG R10/TDI (1, P1), 71.
2. (7) Frank Biela, Germany; Emanuele Pirro, Italy; Audi AG R10/TDI (2, P1), 71.
3. (3) Scott Sharp, Jupiter, FL; David Brabham, Australia; Acura ARX-01B (1, P2), 71.
4. (1) Timo Bernhard, Germany; Romain Dumas, France; Porsche RS Spyder (2, P2), 71.
5. (4) Patrick Long, Oak Park, CA; Sascha Maassen, Germany; Porsche RS Spyder (3, P2), 71.
6. (5) Bryan Herta, Valencia, CA; Christian Fittipaldi, Miami, FL; Acura ARX-01B (4, P2), 71.
7. (9) Marino Franchitti, Scotland; Butch Leitzinger, State College, PA; Porsche RS Spyder (5, P2), 71.
8. (2) Luis Diaz, Mexico; Adrian Fernandez, Mexico; Acura ARX-01B (6, P2), 71.
9. (8) Chris Dyson, Pleasant Valley, NY; Guy Smith, England; Porsche RS Spyder (7, P2), 71.
10. (10) Gerardo Bonilla, Orlando, FL; Ben Devlin, England; Lola B07 46 Mazda (8, P2), 70.
11. (12) Jan Magnussen, Denmark; Johnny O'Connell, Flowery Branch, GA; Corvette C6.R (1, GT1), 70.
12. (13) Oliver Gavin, England; Olivier Beretta, Monaco; Corvette C6.R (2, GT1), 70.
13. (17) Dominik Farnbacher, Germany; Dirk Mueller, Germany; Ferrari F430 GT (1, GT2), 68.
14. (15) Jörg Bergmeister, Germany; Wolf Henzler, Germany; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (2, GT2), 68.
15. (14) Johannes van Overbeek, San Francisco, CA; Patrick Pilet, France; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (3, GT2), 68.
16. (27) Michael Lewis, San Diego, CA; Chris McMurry, Phoenix, AZ; Creation CA07-002 Judd (3, P1), 67.
17. (20) Johnny Mowlem, England; Gunnar Jeannette, Palm Beach Gardens, FL; Ferrari F430 GT (4, GT2), 67.
18. (19) Harrison Brix, San Jose, CA; Patrick Friesacher, Austria; Ferrari F430 GT (5, GT2), 66.
19. (18) Alex Davison, Australia; Marc Basseng, Germany; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (6, GT2), 65.
20. (21) Seth Neiman, Burlingame, CA; Lonnie Pechnik, Pacific Grove, CA; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (7, GT2), 65.
21. (23) Craig Stanton, Long Beach, CA; Nathan Swartzbaugh, La Habra Heights, LA; Rueben Carrapatoso, Brazil; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (8, GT2), 65.
22. (16) Jaime Melo, Brazil; Mika Salo, Finland; Ferrari F430 GT (9, GT2), 65.
23. (25) Doug Peterson, Bonita Springs, FL; Lou Gigliotti, Dallas, TX; Chevrolet Riley Corvette C6 (10, GT2), 64.
24. (24) Jonny Cocker, UK; Paul Drayson, London, UK; Aston Martin DBRS 9 (11, GT2), 64.
25. (28) David Murry, Cumming, GA; David Robertson, Ray, MI; Doran Ford GT-R (12, GT2), 63.
26. (11) Jon Field, Dublin, OH; Clint Field, Dublin, OH; Richard Berry, Evergreen, CO; Lola B06/10 AER (4, P1), 62.
27. (22) Tom Milner, Leesburg, VA; Tom Sutherland, Los Gatos, CA; Panoz Esperante Ford (13, GT2), 51.
28. (26) Chris Hall, Daytona, FL; Joel Feinberg, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Dodge Viper Comp Coupe (14, GT2), 0, Excluded.