It is a reunion of sorts as each marque finished on the same lap a year ago after 12 hours of intense racing. Next week's three-day test is ripe with significant "firsts" for each:
- Porsche is debuting its new 997 RSR racer in North America, the next generation of the highly successful 911 GT3 RSR. Six GT2 Porsches will be present for the Winter Test.
- Panoz Team PTG is taking over the factory effort for the Panoz Esperante GTLM, a winner in class at Sebring and Le Mans in 2006. Multimatic will continue to provide technical support. In addition, Robertson Racing will continue preparing for its Series debut with its own Esperante GTLM.
- Risi Competizione is at the Winter Test for the first time with the same Ferrari 430 GT Berlinetta that led the Houston-based organization to the class championship in 2006.
Porsche is the most successful manufacturer in the history of the Series with 70 class wins, 60 in GT2. Those numbers are likely to grow in 2007 with a collection of world-class teams fielding Porsches. Flying Lizard Motorsports is bringing both of its new 911 GT3 RSRs (and factory support) to the Winter Test, as is Series newcomer Tafel Racing. New entry Team Trans Sport and Farnbacher Loles will both have one car present at the Test.
Two new chapters for Panoz begin at Sebring with Tom Milner's Prototype Technology Group assuming command of the two-car factory program with the Esperante GTLM. Team PTG has five class wins and the 1999 GT championship to its credit with BMW. The other Esperante GTLM is the customer entry of Robertson Racing. Team owners and drivers Dave and Andrea Robertson each have driven a Panoz Esperante GTS in SCCA competition and have frequented Sebring in preparation for the team's first American Le Mans Series campaign.
Defending class champion Risi Competizione isn't resting on its 2006 achievements. After winning a class-leading four races last season, Risi will field two Ferrari 430 GT Berlinettas for the full 2007 season. One will be at the Winter Test as the Ferrari returns to the track where it debuted with a third-place GT2 result in the most thrilling and competitive class finish in the race's 54-year history.
The third annual American Le Mans Series Winter Test is January 22-24 at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, FL. Continuous updates, timing reports, photos and podcasts will be available at americanlemans.com.