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Classes

Prototype (P)

Prototype Challenge(PC)

GT Le Mans (GTLM

GT Daytona (GTD)

USCC Point Standings
2014 After Watkins Glen
Prototype Drivers
Pos Drivers Total
1 Joao Barbosa 31
1 Christian Fittipaldi 31
2 Brian Frisselle 26
2 Burt Frisselle 26
3 Sage Karam 26
4 Max Angelelli 25
4 Jordan Taylor 25
4 Ricky Taylor 25
5 Scott Pruett 24
5 Memo Rojas 24
6 Sebastien Bourdais 23
7 Michael Valiante 22
7 Richard Westbrook 22
8 Scott Dixon 22
8 Tony Kanaan 22
9 Ryan Dalziel 21
9 Scott Sharp 21
10 Johannes van Overbeek 21
10 Ed Brown 21
11 Marino Franchitti 20
12 Alex Brundle 20
12 Gustavo Yacaman 20
13 Eric Curran 18
13 Boris Said 18
14 Oswaldo Negri Jr. 18
14 John Pew 18
15 Joel Miller 18
15 Tristan Vautier 18
16 Gabby Chaves 18
16 Katherine Legge 18
17 David Brabham 17
18 Simon Pagenaud 17
19 Wayne Taylor 15
20 Fabien Giroix 14
20 John Martin 14

Manufacturers
1 Chevrolet 38
2 Ford 34
3 Nissan 28
4 Honda 26
5 Mazda 18
The changing face of LMP2

by David Phillips
Thursday, November 20, 2008

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Laguna Seca action
The past couple of seasons have seen LMP2 vie with GT2 as the most fiercely-contested class in the American Le Mans Series. Acura’s entry into the category in 2007 (and its remarkable debut victory at Sebring) triggered a head-to-head confrontation with Porsche that produced some of the best prototype racing in years. Indeed, Acura vs. Porsche generally had outshown the “bigger, faster” LMP1 class where Audi usually had its way, notwithstanding flashes of speed from Intersport Racing and cameo appearances by Peugeot.

Spearheaded by Penske Racing with Dyson Racing chipping-in, Porsche managed to win the LMP2 team, driver and manufacturers titles in ’07 and ’08, but not without a real fight from Acura’s Andretti Green, Patr¢n Highcroft and Lowes Fernandez Racing and, in ’08, de Ferran Motorsports.

But those heady days of Acura vs. Porsche, Romain Dumas/Timo Bernhard vs. David Brabham/Scott Sharp, Patrick Long/Sascha Maassen vs. Adrian Fernandez/Luis Diaz, Chris Dyson/Guy Smith vs. Gil de Ferran/Simon Pagenaud have been consigned to the historical vaults now that Acura is going LMP1, Penske is racing elsewhere and Porsche has, evidently, withdrawn its factory support for LMP2.

All is not lost in LMP2, however. Acura will still have a strong presence in the category with Lowe’s Fernandez returning for a third season even as Patr¢n Highcroft and De Ferran move “up” to LMP1 and Andretti Green Racing (at least as of now) moves out of Series competition altogether. Although the cost of fielding an Acura ARX-01b is not insignificant and the worldwide economic meltdown makes new sponsors scarcer than hens teeth, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that another team could step forward to run LMP2 Acuras (or Porsches, for that matter) otherwise destined to become show cars in 2009.

What’s more intriguing, however, are the prospects for a revitalized LMP2 program from Mazda. Dyson Racing recently revealed it will not be racing Porsche RS Spyders next year and - while nobody is talking on the record - it appears the Poughkeepsie-based team will take over the Mazda LMP2 program from B-K Motorsports in the coming season. That’s a prospect that figures to be good for Dyson, for Mazda and LMP2.

Dyson, of course, is one of the most accomplished teams in American sports car racing with a dozen wins in the storied Camel GT series and another nine wins (including four overall) in American Le Mans Series competition since 1999. And while it fielded a typically professional effort with its Porsche RS Spyders the past two seasons, Dyson Racing was generally a step or two behind its cohorts at Penske in the Porsche development pipeline.

That would no longer be an issue should rumors of Dyson’s partnership with Mazda come to fruition.

For its part, Mazda is widely believed to have been more competitive than the small B-K Motorsports team had been able to demonstrate the past couple of years. And a partnership with a veteran outfit like Dyson - particularly if Dyson’s deal with Michelin tires is part of the bargain - would enable Mazda to really show what it’s got. And the Mazda MZR-R engine - now installed in the handsome Lola B08/86 coupe - figures to give the Acura LM V8 a run for its money.

This is not to imply LMP2 circa 2009 will match the past two seasons where four (and at times five) Porsche RS Spyders did battle with three or (in ’08) four Acuras for class honors and, many a time, with the Audi R10s for the overall win. But it is to say the prospects of Acura going head-to-head with Mazda next season on a more or less equal playing field promise to be intriguing.

David Phillips is one of North America’s most respected and renowned motorsports journalist. His ‘Another Turn’ features will appear periodically on americanlemans.com throughout the season. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Le Mans Series.

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