New prototypes take center stage at Sebring test
Leading up to this year's American Le Mans Series Winter Test, the prototype talk revolves around six high-tech sports that will turn their first laps in the public eye. The three-day session, starting Monday at Sebring International Raceway, will serve as a springboard to the 2007season.
The most prominent new entries into the Series are three Acura-powered LMP2s that comprise the first factory motorsports program for the American Honda Motor Company's luxury brand in its 20-year history. Andretti Green Racing and Highcroft Racing each will field Courage LC75s and Lowe's Fernandez Racing will enter a Lola B05/40, all of which are full-season entries with the new Acura powerplant.
All three teams have conducted private testing leading up to the 2007 American Le Mans Series, which starts with the 55th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 17. The driver roster for each team is ripe with household names. Bryan Herta, Dario Franchitti and Danica Patrick have been entered for Andretti Green Racing, as have Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz for Lowe's Fernandez Racing. The Highcroft Courage will see David Brabham, Stefan Johansson and team owner Duncan Dayton taking turns behind the wheel.
Not to be outdone, Porsche will have three of its second-generation Porsche RS Spyders at Sebring for the Winter Test. Two will belong to Penske Motorsports, which swept the P2 class championships in 2006. The other will be running under the banner of Dyson Racing. The Poughkeepsie, NY-based team moved to P2 and Porsche in December to renew a relationship that stretches back to 1985. Dyson is the first customer team to take delivery of the RS Spyder with the team awaiting delivery of its second Porsche.
Chris Dyson and Guy Smith, who will team in the No. 20 entry for the full season, have been entered for the Test. In the Penske camp, last year's class co-champion and Porsche factory driver Sascha Maassen is slated to drive with Australian Ryan Briscoe. In the team's other entry, German Timo Bernhard and Frenchman Romain Dumas (both factory drivers) will reunite.
Dublin, OH-based Intersport Racing took the fight to Porsche and Penske throughout the 2006 season, and the 2005 class champion is eager to do the same again this year. Jon Field, Clint Field and Richard Berry will pilot the team's AER-powered Lola B05/40 at the Winter Test. In last season's Sebring 12 Hours, Intersport won in LMP2 and finished second overall to make it the highest-finishing P2 entry in the race's history.
Intersport also has a new tire partner entering the 2007 season as it will run on KUMHO rubber for entire schedule. In previous testing, Intersport has reported significant performance gains on the KUMHO tires.
In LMP1, Autocon Motorsports is back for a second season with its AER-powered Lola EX257. The California-based team returns with team owner Mike Lewis, Chris McMurry and Bryan Willman. The 2007 season will mark the first with the Lola sporting JeanRichard colors as the Swiss timepiece continues as the team's primary sponsor. ALMS