Friday, September 29, 2006

Petit Le Mans is tomorrow

The third prong to sportscar "triple crown" (on the Le Mans racing side of things anyway) happens tomorrow: the Petit Le Mans. Race duration is 10 hours or 1000 miles, and most importantly the winners of each class get an automatic selection for next year's Le Mans 24 Hours. There is one caveat however: you gotta be running in ACO-spec. This means that if the Aston Martins take the weight break that has been handed to them by IMSA all year, and win, they don't get the pre-selection. This is not the end of the world for them, since they already have one entry for coming second in the 24 this year, and a second entry is almost 100% certain. It is also an issue for any teams running cars that are not legal LMP1 or LMP2 cars, for example the Lolas that Highcroft Racing and Autocon Racing have - they are actually older LMP675 cars and would have been ineligible to run in the 24 this year or any of the Le Mans Series races (the ALMS chose to "grandfather" them in order to boost its entry numbers.)

Not to keep harping on about the same thing over and over, but a 28-car entry at PLM is pretty poor, yet officials, media and even Radio Le Mans are all saying it's no big deal, the racing is great, the crowds are good, car count isn't important, the technology is fascinating, blah, blah... Well call me selfish but I want more cars in the ALMS. If the European series can get 45 entries, why can't we? Everyone is saying the LMS and ALMS are going from strength to strength, but until I see more entries I'm going to be skeptical. The old adage in sportscar racing is that you can't believe anything about new cars until they line up on the grid.

All that being said, I'm looking forward to the race tomorrow, and will be tuned in to Speed Channel and Radio Le Mans all day. I'll even forego a night of boozing tonight so I can wake up early to see the start!

(photo credit: American Le Mans Series)

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