ALMS might bend rules for new Maserati

The controversial Maserati MC12 should be cleared to race in this year’s American Le Mans Series in the next few days. A deal brokered by IMSA, the sanctioning body of the ALMS, could be agreed as early as this week to allow the V12-engined supercar to race in America, even though it does not conform to the series’ regulations. The move would then be announced at next week’s official ALMS pre-season test at Sebring.

The MC12 is wider than the two-meter maximum allowed under Le Mans GT1 rules and Maserati was told it would have to build a narrower version if it wants to compete in the Le Mans 24 Hours and the series that run to its rules. IMSA is known to have worked tirelessly over the winter to persuade the Le Mans organizers to allow the car into the ALMS under the same rules that let it compete in the FIA GT Championship.

IMSA now appears to have successfully argued that the participation of the Maserati is vital to the health of the ALMS. Not only would the car provide opposition to the dominant Chevrolet Corvettes in the numerically-weak GT1 class (formerly GTS), but it would bring extra prestige to a series that is racing increasing competition from its rival, the Grand-Am Championship.

A deal is expected to be worked out in Paris this week at a meeting of GT racing’s technical working group rules think-tank. Under the agreement, the hi-tech MC12 would be subject to extra checks and measures if its performance outstrips that of more conventional cars such as the Corvette and the new Aston Martin DBR9.

IMSA boss Doug Robinson said: “We are working closely with the Le Mans organizers on this. I would say there is a 90 per cent chance that we will see the cars racing in America this year."

This agreement would not cover the Le Mans 24 Hours. The organizers are insistent that the MC12 will not be allowed to compete in the big race until a narrower version of the car has been homologated.

Should the MC12 get the go-ahead to race in the ALMS, there is almost certain to be one car on the grid for the opening race at Sebring on March 19. It would be entered under the banner of long-time series entrant Risi Competizione whose boss, Giuseppe Risi, is North America’s biggest Ferrari and Maserati dealer. Autosport Magazine

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