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Braselton, Ga. - The prestigious invitation list is out for the 73rd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and once again the American Le Mans Series is a highly sought-after guest.
Fifteen ALMS-related race teams/cars, along with several others that have been featured on the ALMS grid throughout the series seven year span, were on the coveted list of invited entrants for the historic French endurance classic June 18-19. Last year, 10 ALMS regulars made the trip to the 8.3-mile Circuit de la Sarthe. ALMS teams won three classes: LMP2, GTS and GT.
"Without a doubt, the 24 Hours of Le Mans is the premiere sports car endurance race in the world, and once again the American Le Mans Series is well represented at this historic event," said Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the American Le Mans Series.
"With 15 entries coming directly from full-time American Le Mans Series teams, up from 10 entries in 2004, this again illustrates the strong link between the ALMS and the annual 24-hour event," Atherton added. "Additionally, the ALMS teams represented in this year's Le Mans race are all world-class and present a true threat to sweep the four classes. On behalf of all of us associated with the American Le Mans Series, I want to congratulate all the 24 Hours of Le Mans entrants and wish them the best of luck in France."
Included in the invitation list, released by the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), are two Champion Racing Audi R8s, which finished 1-2 at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, entered in LMP1. A Champion Racing Audi placed third last year at Le Mans behind two other R8s and won in LMP1 in 2003 while finishing third overall.
There are three ALMS entries for LMP2 at Le Mans: two cars from Telesis Intersport Racing and a Courage C-65 AER from Miracle Motorsports. Intersport fielded the winning LMP2 car last year at Le Mans in a Lola B2K/40 Judd, co-driven by then 20-year-old Clint Field. The team is entering a new AER-powered Lola, along with a new Judd-powered Courage.
Miracle Motorsports, which won the ALMS LMP2 championship last year, also is making its debut at Le Mans. The Courage C65 is coming off a class victory at Sebring, where it set an all-time series record for margin of victory.
The GT1 field will see the return of Aston Martin to Le Mans for the first time since 1989 with a pair of DBR9s. The manufacturer beat perennial powerhouse Corvette Racing at Sebring for its first class victory there since 1956. Corvette, which won in class at Le Mans last year for the third time in four years, will try to avenge its Sebring loss with two C6-Rs. Also noteworthy is the entry of the ACEMCO Motorsports Saleen. The team is making its first run at Le Mans and finished eighth overall and fourth in class at Sebring.
In GT2, the 2005 Sebring champion Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing team is looking for another Le Mans class triumph. The squad won in GT2 last year and also in conjunction with Alex Job Racing in 2003. And, Panoz Motor Sports will send a pair of Esperante GTLMs to Le Mans. Traditional ALMS GT2 threat Alex Job Racing and Flying Lizard Motorsports each will field one Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.
Since its inception in 1999, ALMS teams have won four overall titles and 13 class championships at Le Mans with 100 ALMS-related teams competing in the last six 24 Hour of Le Mans events. There are 50 entries overall for Le Mans: 14 in both LMP1 and LMP 2, 10 in LMGT1 and 12 in LMGT2.
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