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 were 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 engine limitations 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 first 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.

Round two at Sebring was the forty-ninth running of the event. Thirty-eight cars would compete in the 12-hour race around the 3.74-mile seventeen-turn road course.

After 12-hours of racing, all that had to be decided was which factory Audi would win. The No. 2 Audi R8 was first to return to the track after the final rounds of pit-stops but the team received a pit lane penalty for excessive speed. This allowed the No. 1 car driven by Rinaldo Capello, Michele Alboreto and Laurent Aiello to take the lead and overall win.
Franz Konrad shared his No. 26 Saleen S7-R with Terry Borcheller and Oliver Gavin. The Konrad team staged a race long duel with the No. 4 factory Corvette and won the GTS class by one lap. This was quite an achievement for the new Saleen S7R as it only debuted last fall at Laguna Seca. And, it did not show promise at the 2001 24 Hours of Daytona where it retired after only a couple of hours with a broken suspension.
LMP675 was expected to be a two car race between the Lolas of Roock-KnighHawk Racing and Gunnar Racing. Unfortunately, the Nissan-powered Lola B2K/40 of Roock-KnightHawk was the only LMP675 car to start the race. Sharing the driving duties was Claudia Huertgen, Mel Hawkins and Steven Knight. They retired after 105-laps with overheating problems.
The 4-liter V8 engine used by the GT class BMW teams was probably the most controversial issue during the 2001 ALMS season. At Sebring, only one of the four BMWs entered had the 8-cylinder motor. Porsche argued that the car was a prototype as the V8 engine was not available in the street version. ALMS rules were changed for 2002 requiring manufacturers to produce 100-cars and 1000-engines for a vehicle to compete without penalties.
BMW entered the 4.0-liter V8 BMW M3 for J.J. Lehto and Jorg Muller. The Porsche teams complained about the car’s straight-line speed but it had higher fuel consumption than the competition. The No. 42 was in contention for the GT class win until late in the race when the team was required to change brake pads. They finished tenth overall and third in the GT category.
The No. 4 factory Chevrolet Corvette C5-R of Franck Freon, Kelly Collins and Andy Pilgrim chased the winning Saleen the entire distance. The team took the GTS lead briefly late in the race but had to relinquish it after the last pit-stop to the winning Konrad entry.
Johansson Motorsport was owned by ex-CART and F1 driver Stefan Johansson. In 2000, he ran the uncompetitive Reynard 2KQ with Jim Matthews. At Sebring, he debuted the new Gulf Oil sponsored Audi R8. This was one of the two privately entered Audis. He shared the driving duties with Guy Smith. The duo started and finished fourth in LMP900 and overall.
The No. 10 Prototype Technology Group BMW M3 was shared by Bill Auberlen and Nic Jonsson. The pair qualified sixteenth overall and fourth in the GT class. Unfortunately, they were out of the race by the fifty-seventh lap with engine problems.
The No. 22 Alex Job Porsche GT3RS was driven by Randy Pobst, Christian Menzel and Timo Bernhard. They qualified second in class and after 12-hours of racing they were still on the same lap as their class winning teammates, which was good for a second in the GT category.
The No. 72 Courage C60 was driven by Laurent Redon, Jean-Christophe Boullion and future CART champion Sebastien Bourdais. The car was entered by retired French race driver Henri Pescarolo. Pescarolo had competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans a record thirty-three times - winning on four occasions. The team finished seventh in LMP900 and twenty-fifth overall.
The second privateer Audi R8 entry came from Champion Racing. The team had shown great potential in the season opener at Texas where they finished fourth. Ralf Kelleners, Dorsey Schroeder, and Andy Wallace were at the wheel for Sebring. They qualified third and completed the sweep of the LMP900 podium for Audi.
The new Panoz LMP07 was expected to be an Audi beater but never delivered. The car featured a Panoz 4-liter V8 with a paddle shift system. The No. 50 car was shared by David Brabham and Jan Magnussen and suffered through a myriad of issues at Sebring. Initially, problems were with the alternator, then power steering and finally the car was retired with a gearbox and clutch failure. They finished eighth in LMP900.
The No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C5-R shared by Ron Fellows, Johnny O'Connell and Chris Kneifel qualified right behind the pole-sitting GTS Saleen S7-R. Starter problems, which began early in the event, prevented the Corvette from re-firing after pit-stops. The team was able to manage a third place finish in class and Fellows recorded the fastest race lap for the GTS cars.
Last year’s Sebring winners – Frank Biela, Tom Kristensen and Emanuele Pirro finished second just 0.482-seconds behind their teammates. This was the closest margin of victory in the history of the 12-hour event. However, this may be misleading as the lead Audi slowed to allow the No. 2 to close for a photo finish opportunity.
Sasha Maassen, Lucas Luhr and Emmanuel Collard drove the GT class winning Alex Job Porsche GT3RS. The Alex Job Porsches were locked in a tight battle with the new V8 powered BMW until late in the race. A problem changing brake pads during the last stop took the BMW out of contention.
James Weaver demonstrates his displeasure with one of the drivers of the Seikel Motorsport Porsche GT3RS or maybe he is waving to friends watching practice. Weaver shared the Dyson entered Riley & Scott Mk IIIC with Butch Leitzinger and Elliott Forbes-Robinson. The team took delivery of the car just 13-days before the event and struggled with a number of issues - they retired with overheating problems.
Needless to say, the No. 12 Callaway C-12R attracted a lot of attention. Unfortunately, the car failed technical inspection because of fuel that was outside the accepted specifications and after qualifying ninth in the GT class was moved to the back grid. The car shared by Vic Rice, Bob Mazzuoccola and Shane Lewis retired after only 50-laps with suspension problems.
The No. 30 Petersen Motorsports Porsche GT3RS was scheduled to be driven by Bob Wollek, Johnny Mowlem and Michael Petersen. The car qualified fourth in the GT class but did not start the race. The evening before the event, French veteran sports car driver, Bob Wollek died in a bicycling accident on a public road. Out of respect to Wollek, the car was withdrawn.

POS.CLASSDRIVERSCARENTRANTLAPSRETIREMENTS
1LMP900Capello/Alboreto/AielloAudi R8Audi Sport370-
2LMP900Biela/Kristensen/PirroAudi R8Audi Sport370-
3LMP900Wallace / Schroeder / KellenersAudi R8Champion Racing366-
4LMP900Johansson / SmithAudi R8Johansson Motorsport362-
5LMP900Field / Dayton / SutherlandLola B2K/10Intersport Racing332-
6GTSGavin / Konrad / BorchellerSaleen S7-RKonrad Team Saleen332-
7GTSPilgrim / Collins / FréonChevrolet CorvetteCorvette Racing331-
8GTMaassen / Collard / LuhrPorsche GT3RSAlex Job Racing326-
9GTPobst / Menzel / BernhardPorsche GT3RSAlex Job Racing326-
10GTLehto / MüllerBMW M3 GTRBMW Motorsport324-
11GTSFellows / O'Connell / KneifelChevrolet CorvetteCorvette Racing322-
12GTSaid / Stuck / CunninghamBMW M3PTG318-
13GTBouchut / Goueslard / DumezPorsche GT3RSLarbre Competition317-
14GTCaffi / Babini / RosaPorsche GT3RSSeikel Motor Sport312-
15GTFoster / Wankum / PabstPorsche GT3RKyser Racing306-
16GTAlzen / RichterPorsche GT3RSJürgen Alzen306-
17GTKaufmann / OrtelliPorsche GT3RSFreisinger Motorsport300-
18GTSMessley / Altenburg / HaynerDodge Viper GTS-RAmerican Viperacing298-
19GTAlexander / Pickering / GleasonPorsche GT3RCirtek Motorsport293-
20GTSmith / HornPorsche GT3RFreisinger Motorsport276Starter
21GTBuckler / McGlynn / EarlePorsche GT3RSThe Racers Group271-
22GTSPardoe / Weickardt / EllisDodge Viper GTS-RAmerican Viperacing235-
23LMP900Leitzinger / EFR / WeaverRiley & Scott Mk IIIDyson Racing205Overheating
24GTMüller / EkblomBMW M3BMW Motorsport168Engine
25LMP900Boullion / Bourdais / RedonCourage C60 PeugeotPescarolo Sport167Engine
26GTPeter / Quester / SimonPorsche GT3RRWS Motorsport127Suspension
27GTWillingham / Neuhaus / WarsPorsche GT3RDick Barbour Racing121Drive Shaft
28LMP900Magnussen / BrabhamPanoz LMP07Panoz Motor Sports109Clutch
29GTTrinkler / Lally / ZachariasChevrolet CorvetteTrinkler Racing, LLC108Steering
30LMP675Hürtgen / Hawkins / KnightLola B2K/40 NissanRoock-KnightHawk105Overheating
31GTWagner / LawPorsche GT3RKelly-Moss68Drive Shaft
32GTBurgess / BagnallPorsche GT3RSSeikel Motor Sport60Suspension
33GTAuberlen / JönssonBMW M3PTG57Engine
34GTLewis / RiceCallaway C12-RAspen Knolls/MCR50Suspension
35GTMurry / LazzaroPorsche GT3RSKelly-Moss47Drive Shaft
36LMP900Graf / SallesPanoz LMP07Panoz Motor Sports28Chassis
37GTBaron / Hindery / BuitoniPorsche GT3RSOrbit84DQ: assistance
38GTWarner / Orti / ZiegelmanPorsche GT3RBroadfoot Racing64DQ: illegal repair


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