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USCC Point Standings
2014 After Road America
Prototype Drivers
Pos Drivers Total
1 Joao Barbosa 285
1 Christian Fittipaldi 285
2 Jordan Taylor 269
2 Ricky Taylor 269
3 Michael Valiante 267
3 Richard Westbrook 267
4 Gustavo Yacaman 253
5 Scott Pruett 250
6 Ed Brown 233
6 Johannes van Overbeek 233
7 Ryan Dalziel 228
7 Oswaldo Negri Jr. 228
7 John Pew 228
7 Scott Sharp 228
8 Memo Rojas 218
9 Joel Miller 198
10 Olivier Pla 172
11 Tristan Nunez 164
12 Sylvain Tremblay 133
13 Brian Frisselle
14 Eric Curran 124
15 Boris Said 117
16 Alex Brundle 113
17 Tom Long 18
18 Sage Karam 104
19 Katherine Legge 102
120 Max Angelelli 85
21 Brian Frisselle 84
22 Andy Meyrick 82
23 Sebastien Bourdais 67
24 Marino Franchitti 60
25 Tristan Vautier 19 58
26 HoPin Tung 57
27 Jon Fogarty 1 54
28 Gabby Chaves 16 53
29 Simon Pagenaud 52
30 Mike Rockenfeller 51
31 David Brabham 50
31 Scott Dixon 50
31 Tony Kanaan 50
32 Guy Cosmo 46
32 Klaus Graf 46
32 Anthony Lazzaro 46
32 Lucas Luhr 46
33 Justin Wilson 43
34 Byron DeFoor 41
34 David Hinton 41
34 Jim Pace 41
35 Wayne Taylor 33
36 Fabien Giroix 31
36 John Martin 31
37 Alex Popow 30
38 Roman Rusinov 26
38 Oliver Webb 26
39 Kyle Larson 24
40 Frank Beck 23
41 Ben Devlin 22
41 Max Papis 22
41 Bradley Smith 22
42 Jamie McMurray 21
43 AJ Allmendinger 20
44 James Hinchcliffe 19
44 Jann Mardenborough 19
45 Alexander Rossi 16
45 Sebastian Saavedra 16
46 Brendon Hartley 15
46 E.J. Viso 15
47 Memo Gidley 14
47 Alex Gurney 14
48 Scott Mayer 1 3
49 Pierre Kaffer 1
49 Darren Law 1
Is the ALMS half empty or half full?

by David Philipps
Tuesday, August 25, 2009

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The American Le Mans Series’ announcement at Road America of its consolidation of the LMP and GT classes - coupled with the introduction of the LMP Challenge class - will provide pundits and seers with plenty to chew on in the coming weeks and months. Purists will doubtless decry the introduction of a dreaded “spec” series to an arena whose raison d’être is diversity and technical innovation, not homogenization and technical stasis. Pragmatists will embrace a decision that, in one fell swoop, makes for a rational consolidation of four classes into two while promising perhaps a half-dozen new, high-tech - albeit identical - prototype-esque entries to the grid.

Rather than purists and pragmatists, Series boss Scott Atherton preferred the “is the glass half empty or half full” analogy in his public comments at Road America. From the “half empty” perspective, he readily conceded that, as with the Challenge GT cars added to the field earlier this year, one aim of introducing the LMP Challenge cars is to increase numbers. But, as he was quick to note, it is not the only aim or outcome of a Challenge class. From the “half full” point of view, he noted that at least one current Challenge program is planning to move up to GT2 in 2010. So in addition to bulking up what - from the perspective of mid-August ’09 - otherwise promises to be a gossamer thin prototype entry next year, the LMP Challenge class may provide entry to the “real” prototype class.

Others were also thinking long-term…say ’11 and beyond. With the ACO expected to announce its rules for 2011 shortly - rules that are widely anticipated to reduce if not eliminate the unfair advantage enjoyed by diesel-engined prototypes since ’06 - there were some at Road America who viewed the LMP Challenge and class consolidation as a move to bridge the Series circa ’09 and ’11. In other words, it is a move to get the Series over the hump of what figures to be a challenging ’10 campaign (at least prototype-wise) and into an ‘11 season that could see a renaissance of multi-manufacturer involvement in prototypes coinciding with the new ACO rules and - we can all hope - a robust economic recovery.

On the race track, meanwhile, Road America proved without a doubt the GT2 - soon to be just GT - class is alive and well. BMW earned its first pole of the season for its new M3 (and its new partnership with Rahal Letterman Racing) and went on to an impressive 1-2 in the race itself. Corvette was again competitive in just the second outing of its GT2 car, and grabbed third place when Johnny O’Connell took advantage of a late-race bobble by Patrick Long in the Flying Lizard Porsche.

Although BMW deep-sixed its Formula One program and Formula BMW Americas, the Bavarians did so while sending clear signals that its American Le Mans Series program is exactly the kind of motorsports venture that makes sense to them. Porsche? Absent from the podium for the first time since Sebring (two Ferraris and a Panoz) and barring the remote possibility that its evolving relationship with Audi and VW will contravene the fundamental laws of physics, it will remain a bulwark of the GT class. Although Ferrari’s plans are a little murky but with Corvette planning to sell its new car to privateers, the GT class figures to be on solid ground; solid enough that the day may soon arrive when the GT Challenge cars are no longer needed to inflate the grid.

And that raises the possibility that should the LMP class enjoy a rebirth in 2011, we could see another tweak to the structure, one that puts the two Challenge classes - GT and LMP - in a race of their own while their big brothers are left to duke it out among themselves. With IMSA Lites, this would give American Le Mans Series a true ladder system the likes of which sports car racing has seldom before enjoyed.

There’s another equally intriguing dimension to the LMP Challenge category. With a fixed price of $380,000 for a turn-key car, a targeted budget of $1 million for a season of racing and driver qualification rules that will more or less require a pairing of a pro and gentleman driver in each entry, the LMP Challenge could look very attractive to some teams and team owners now competing in the Rolex Grand-Am Series Daytona Prototypes; particularly those “gentleman” owners and/or drivers who no longer have the requisite talent (or budget) to compete with the full-on professional programs…and who find the prospects of racing at Sebring, Long Beach, Lime Rock, Road America, Mosport and Road Atlanta enticing.

All of this borders on, if not goes well into, the realm of pure speculation. Much of this will not even begin to become clear until the end of 2009, indeed until 2011. One thing is certain however. After years of kowtowing to an ACO that is focused on the unique dynamics of the 24 Hours of Le Mans; of being at the mercy of manufacturers’ sometimes capricious decisions; of taking the high road in the face of spurious annual rumors of an impending fire sale; and with its dramatic consolidation of classes and introduction of GT and now the LMP Challenge classes, the American Le Mans Series has come out swinging.

David Phillips is one of North America’s most respected and renowned motorsports journalists. His ‘Another Turn’ feature appears regularly on americanlemans.com. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Le Mans Series.

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