2001 was the third season for the American Le Mans Series. The rules for the series followed those of the legendary 24 Hour of Le Mans which meant there were four classes of cars competing.

  • Le Mans Prototype 900 (LMP900) – These were the purpose built race cars powered by a 6.0-litre normally aspirated or 4.0-litre turbocharged engine. The cars could weigh no less than 900-kilograms. Audi, BMW and Cadillac entered two factory supported cars. Privateer teams entered cars manufactured by Riley & Scott, Lola and Panoz.
  • Le Mans Prototype 675 (LMP675) – Introduced in 2001 was the LMP675 class for cars which could weigh no less than 675-kilograms. The rules for the cars were written so that the two LMP classes (LMP900 and LMP675) would be contending for the overall win.
  • Grand Touring Sport (GTS) – This class included production-based cars such as the Dodge Viper GTS-R, Chevrolet Corvette C5-R, Saleen S7-R and Porsche 911 Turbo. The cars were permitted to use 8.0-litre normally aspirated or 4.0-litre turbocharged engines. These cars could weigh no less than 1,100-kilograms.
  • Grand Touring (GT) – The GT cars were also restricted to an 1,100-kilogram weight rule and had similar engines limitation as the GTS class. These were also production-based cars such as the BMW M3, Porsche GT3RS and Chevrolet Corvette C5-R. Unlike the GTS entries, competitors in this category could not use carbon fiber brakes.

The ALMS schedule included nine North American events in 2001 but the series finale, initially planned for Lowes Motor Speedway, was cancelled. The opening round, the Grand Prix of Texas, was held at Texas Motor Speedway which was the only time in ALMS history that the opening event was not the 12 Hours of Sebring.

The final race of the 2001 American Le Mans Series season was Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. This event would determine many driving, team and manufacturer titles. It was also a qualifying event for the 2002 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with the class winners receiving automatic invitations to compete in the French classic.

The race was designed to be a smaller version of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The race length was set at 1,000-miles or 10-hours. In the three previous runnings, the 1,000-mile mark had been reached by the race winners before the 10-hour maximum time.

A new point scoring system was implemented by the ALMS in 2001 to reduce the possibility that teammates could share the driving title. Frank Biela, on the right, celebrates the overall and class win on the victory podium with Emanuele Pirro. Pirro was also able to celebrate the LMP900 Driver’s Championship.
In the GTS class, Prodrive debuted their Ferrari 550. Prodrive had a successful record with 550s built to FIA GT specifications. but a car prepared for Le Mans rules was a new venture. The car driven by Peter Kox and Rickard Rydell qualified fifth in the GTS class but retired from the race after developing an oil leak.
The BMW Motorsport team decided to split up their regular driver pairings for the ALMS season finale. Team regulars JJ Lehto and Fredrik Ekblom along with guest driver Karl Wendlinger competed in the No. 43 BMW M3 GTR. They were the fastest qualifiers in GT but contact with the Dick Barbour Racing Porsche took them out of contention. After repairs were made to the car they bounced back to finish fourth in class.
The No. 05 shared by Chris Bingham, Oliver Gavin and Ron Johnson suffered rear-end damage when it was involved in a single-car incident at turn five during the morning warm-up. With only a few hours before the start, the crew had to replace the exhaust and rebuild the rear subframe. They were unable to take the start but despite this setback the team finished fourth in GTS.
As the race progressed, it appeared that the event would be a contest between the Audis of Team Joest and Champion Racing. But the Champion car suffered a couple of problems the most serious was losing a wheel. The duo of Johnny Herbert and Andy Wallace was able to recover and finish third which gave Audi a clean sweep of the LMP900 podium.
On lap-26, the race-leading No. 1 Audi R8, driven by Tom Kristensen, hit the turn-one wall. Although Kristensen was not hurt the damage to the car was beyond repair and he and his teammate, Rinaldo Capello, were forced to retire. The accident also eliminated Kristensen’s and Capello’s chances of winning the LMP900 title.
Petit Le Mans was not kind to the Panoz team. The No. 51 car was the first to retire after only 23-laps with an engine failure. The second car driven by David Brabham saw an opportunity to pass the leading Audi R8 while lapping a slower car. Unfortunately, Brabham’s pass was not clean and he made contact with the Brookspeed Viper. Repairs were made to the rear wing and suspension and Brabham and his co-driver Jan Magnussen finished sixth in LMP900.
The second factory Chevrolet Corvette was driven by Andy Pilgrim, Franck Freon and Kelly Collins. For much of the race they were locked in a battle with one of the Konrad Saleens, however, a couple of problems delayed the Konrad effort. By the checkered flag, the No. 4 Corvette was able to take the GTS class victory by 7-laps.
Jorg Muller earned the Driver’s title with his second place finish in the GT class. The team was more concerned about “winning the war rather than the battle” and took a conservative approach to ensure that they got good fuel mileage. He shared the No. 43 BMW GTR with Dirk Muller.
American Viperacing team claimed the final podium spot with Mike Hezemans, Jeroen Bleekemolen, and Anthony Kumpen sharing the driving duties in the No. 45 Dodge Viper GTS-R. The team had a disappointing debut last year when they were forced to retire after an accident. The second American Viperacing car did not fare as well. Despite finishing 142-laps behind the class-winning Corvette they were fifth in GTS.
It was an easy LMP675 victory for Milka Duno, John Graham and Scott Maxwell in Dick Barbour’s Reynard 01Q. The second Barbour entry, driven by the new class champion Didier de Radigues suffered problems the entire week and they were not fully resolved for the race. De Radigues and his teammates Bruno Lambert and Earl Goddard were able to finish third in LMP675.
Emanuele Pirro and Frank Biela drove the winning Joest Audi R8. Their teammates and main rivals for the championship, Tom Kristensen and Rinaldo Capello, didn’t fare as well. Their car retired early in the race when Kristensen went off the track at turn one. The No. 2 took victory over the Johansson Motorsport Audi by a comfortable 3-lap margin.
The Volkswagen-powered Racing Organisation Course Reynard 2KQs were expected to challenge the Dick Barbour team for the LMP675 win. Quickest of these was the No. 39 shared by Jordi Gene, Yannick Schroeder and Jean-Denis Deletraz which started second to the No. 5 Barbour car. Unfortunately, they had engine problems and were the first LMP675 car to retire.
Mike Fitzgerald, Johnny Mowlem and Christophe Boullion drove the No. 30 Petersen Motorsports Porsche GT3RS. The team started seventh in GT and finished sixteenth overall which good for sixth in class.
After just two laps the No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette of Ron Fellows, Johnny O’Connell and Scott Pruett retired. The car stopped on course with electrical problems and it would not re-fire. The car was returned to the pits where the crew was able to solve the problem. However, this practice is not allowed under ALMS rules and the car was disqualified. This ended Ron Fellows chance of winning the 2001 GTS driving title.
Second in LMP675 was the Nissan-powered Lola B2K/40 driven by Ben Devlin, Andrew Davis and Jason Workman. The Archangel team never fully converted the car from Grand Am to ALMS specs which meant they were giving up speed but they believed it would improve their reliability. This proved to be true as the team qualified fifth in class and was able to move up the finishing order when some of the quicker LMP675 cars retired.
James Weaver, Elliott Forbes-Robinson and Butch Leitzinger drove the No. 16 Riley & Scott Mk IIIC entered by Rob Dyson. The team qualified eighth overall and in LMP900 but failed to make the grid as the team was still working on the car. During the race, they suffered a series of issues and completed only 94-laps before retiring with clutch problems.
Franz Konrad entered a second Saleen S7R for Walter Brun and Toni Seiler. The pair retired after 152-laps with clutch problems but completed enough laps to be classified sixth in the GTS class.
The No. 6 BMW M3 GTR of Hans Stuck, Boris Said and Bill Auberlen took the GT class victory. They finished one lap ahead of the Schnitzer prepared BMW driven by Dirk and Jorg Muller. This was Auberlen’s first win in ALMS competition. The previous year he was driving a BMW V12 LMR when it got airborne and did a 360-degree back flip. The car landed on its wheels but was unable to continue.
The last time the Callaway Corvette C12-R competed was at Le Mans where it captured the class pole position. The car’s strength was its speed, which is invaluable at Le Mans. However, handling and braking are also important at Road Atlanta. Shane Lewis, Cort Wagner and Bob Mazzuoccola qualified eighth in GT but the car retired when it broke a rear stub axle.
The No. 8 Cadillac LMP 01 was involved in an incident on the pace lap. As the field approached the green for the start Max Angelelli in the Cadillac hit Jon Field in the Intersport Lola B2K/10B which forced Field to retire. Angelelli and his teammates Wayne Taylor and Christophe Tinseau were able to continue and finished fourth in class.
Early in the race the second place LMP900 Panoz of David Brabham tangled with the No. 19 Brookspeed Chrysler Viper GTS-R. The Panoz was able to return to the event after repairs were made to the suspension and body. Unfortunately, the Viper was severely damaged and the car shared by Dino Steiner, Joe Ellis and John Cooper retired.
It was a frustrating 2001 for the GT class Porsches. After wins in the opening rounds of the season they could not compete against the BMWs. At Petit Le Mans, the No. 23 Sascha Maassen/Lucas Luhr Alex Job Racing Porsche GT3RS finished third in the GT class - they were the highest placed Porsche. The results gave Maassen a third place in the GT Drivers point’s championship and Luhr a fourth.
Capturing second in LMP900 and overall was Stefan Johansson and Patrick LeMarie in the Gulf Oil sponsored Audi R8. The pair qualified fourth overall and in class. At the checkered flag, they were 3-laps behind the winning Joest entry of Frank Beila and Emanuele Pirro.
Terry Borcheller was able to capitalize on the early retirement of the Fellows/O’Connell/Pruett Corvette to take the Driver’s title in GTS. With the exit of the Corvette Borcheller only had to complete fifty laps to win the championship. He and his teammates Charlie Slater and car owner - Franz Konrad were able to finish second in GTS and thirteenth overall.

POS.CLASSDRIVERSCARENTRANTLAPSRETIREMENTS
1LMP 900Biela / PirroAudi R8Audi Sport North America394-
2LMP 900Johansson / LemarieAudi R8Johansson Motorsport391-
3LMP 900Herbert / WallaceAudi R8Champion Racing388-
4LMP 900Angelelli / Tinseau / TaylorCadillac NorthstarTeam Cadillac382-
5LMP 900Goossens / CollardCadillac NorthstarTeam Cadillac364-
6GTSPilgrim / Collins / FreonChevrolet CorvetteCorvette Racing362-
7LMP 675Maxwell / Duno / GrahamReynard 01Q JuddDick Barbour Racing361-
8GTStuck / Said / AuberlenBMW M3 GTRPrototype Technology Group360-
9GTMuller / MüllerBMW M3 GTRBMW Motorsport359-
10LMP 900Magnussen / BrabhamPanoz LMP-1Panoz Motor Sports358-
11GTMaassen / LuhrPorsche GT3RSAlex Job Racing355-
12GTLehto / Ekblom / WendlingerBMW M3 GTRBMW Motorsport355-
13GTSKonrad / Borcheller / SlaterSaleen S7-RKonrad Team Saleen355-
14GTMenzel / PobstPorsche GT3RSAlex Job Racing353-
15GTSHezemans / KumpenDodge ViperAmerican Viperacing349-
16GTMowlem / Boullion / FitzgeraldPorsche GT3RSPetersen Motorsports344-
17LMP 675Devlin / Davis / WorkmanLola B2K/40Archangel Motorsport341-
18GTBurgess / Plumb / ButtieroPorsche GT3RSSeikel Motor Sport341-
19GTFoster / Wankum / BundyPorsche GT3RSKyser Racing329-
20GTEarle / Hayden / HaydenPorsche GT3RSebah Automotive Limited325-
21GTGabel / Schultheis / LowmanPorsche GT3ROrbit324-
22GTSBingham / Gavin / JohnsonSaleen S7-RPark Place Racing312-
23GTJeannette/Policastro Jr/PolicastroPorsche GT3RGunnar Racing253-
24GTLewis / Wagner / MazzuoccolaCallaway C12-RAspen Knolls/MCR221Wheel
25GTSAllen / Weickardt / FairbanksDodge ViperAmerican Viperacing220-
26LMP 675deRadigues/Goddard/LambertReynard 01QDick Barbour Racing213-
27LMP 675Hurtgen / Knight / HawkinsLola B2K/40Roock-KnightHawk Racing209Half Shaft
28GTHindery / Kester / BaronPorsche GT3RSOrbit183Drive Shaft
29GTSBrun / SeilerSaleen S7-RKonrad Motorsport152Clutch
30GTWillingham / Harvey / HancockPorsche GT3RDick Barbour Racing137Accident
31GTMurry / Jonsson / CunninghamBMW M3 GTRPTG136Fire
32LMP 675McMurry / Arsenault / WillmanPilbeam MP84Team Bucknum Racing108Accident
33GTSRydell / KoxFerrari 550Prodrive Allstars103Oil System
34LMP 900Weaver / LeitzingerRiley & Scott Mk IIIDyson Racing94Clutch
35LMP 675Gene / Schroeder / DelétrazReynard 2KQROC60Engine
36GTSSteiner / Ellis / CooperChrysler ViperBrookspeed35Accident
37LMP 900Kristensen / CapelloAudi R8Audi Sport North America26Accident
38GTFranchitti / Burt / KellenersFerrari 360MSB Motorsport26Outside Assistance
39LMP 900Graf / LagorcePanoz LMP-1Panoz Motor Sports23Engine
40GTSFellows / O'Connell / PruettChevrolet CorvetteCorvette Racing2Electrical
41LMP 900Field / Sutherland / NeuhausLola B2K/10BIntersport Racing0Accident


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