2003 was the fifth 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.

  • Le Mans Prototype 900 (LMP900) – These were the purpose built race cars powered by a 6.0-liter normally aspirated or 4.0-litre turbocharged engine. The vehicles could weigh no less than 900-kilograms. Audi supported two teams. Privateers entered cars manufactured by Riley & Scott, Lola, Dallara and Panoz.
  • Le Mans Prototype 675 (LMP675) – Introduced in 2001 was the LMP675 class for cars that could weigh no less than 675-kilograms. The rules for the vehicles were written so that the two LMP classes (LMP900 and LMP675) would contend 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 Ferrari 550 Maranello. The vehicles 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 a 1,100-kilogram weight rule. This category also included production-based vehicles. Competitors raced cars such as the BMW M3, Porsche GT3RS and Ferrari 360 Modena. Unlike the GTS entries, teams in this category could not use carbon fiber brakes.

The ALMS schedule included nine North American events in 2003. The opening round was the 12 Hours of Sebring. It was followed by the first of two races at Road Atlanta, Sonoma and the series second visit to Trois Rivieres. The second Canadian event was held at Mosport, next up was Road America, then Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the Miami street circuit and finally, Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.

Round seven of the 2003 American Le Mans Series took place at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The race was scheduled to be 2-hours and 45-minutes in length around the eleven-turn 2.238-mile road course.

One of the Dyson Lolas was quickest in practice but when it counted in qualifying the Team Joest Audi R8 driven by Frank Biela captured the overall and LMP900 pole. Sharing the No. 1 Audi with Biela was Marco Werner. The race was relatively uneventful with the pair leading 115 of the 120-lap contest. This was the team’s fourth victory of the 2003 season.
For the seventh time this year, an Alex Job Racing Porsche topped the GT qualifying time sheet. Setting the quickest time and establishing a new lap record was Sascha Maassen in the No. 23 entry. Maassen and his co-driver Lucas Luhr had a relatively easy run after their teammates, Jorg Bergmeister and Timo Bernhard suffered an alternator issue. They won the class by a one-lap margin.
The No. 3 Corvette C5-R of Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connell was gridded fourth in GTS for the start. Fellows and O’Connell and their teammates in the second Corvette Racing entry were no match for the Ferraris. At the conclusion of the event, they finished third in class - one-lap down to the class winners. However, the Enge/Kox Ferrari failed the post-race inspection and Fellows and O’Connell were awarded second in GTS.
Butch Leitzinger driving the No. 16 Lola EX257 which he would share with James Weaver was the quickest in practice. The team was knocked off the top of the times sheets in qualifying but Weaver was the fastest in LMP675. He was able to stay in touch with the leading Audi early in the race but lost almost a minute when he went off-course. Despite this incident, the duo finished second overall and first in class.
With the arrival of Lolas EX257 in the LMP675 class, the older B2k/40 models became all but obsolete. Essex Racing entered a Lola B2K/40 co-driven by Jason Workman and Scott Bradley. They qualified eighteenth overall – behind the quickest GT Porsche. But Workman and Bradley had reliability on their side and as the result of attrition in the LMP675 category, they took the runner-up spot in the class.
The No. 88 Ferrari 550 Maranello shared by Tomas Enge and Peter Kox was just – 0.060-seconds slower than their teammates and started second in GTS and eleventh overall. During the race, they moved to the front of the class and took the GTS victory, finishing fifth overall. However, the post-race technical inspection uncovered an issue with the air intake box which caused it to fail the stall test - the team was disqualified.
The No. 4 Corvette out-qualified their teammates. Oliver Gavin and Kelly Collins were gridded twelfth overall and third in GTS. The two Corvette entries could not match the pace of the Prodrive Ferraris. At the checkered flag, Gavin and Collins finished fourth in GTS but an incident during the race damaged the air box on the winning Ferrari. The car failed the technical inspection and the duo was moved to third in class.
The Audi R8s dominated the LMP900 class and the ‘best of the rest’ was the Panoz LMP01s. The No. 11 Panoz was withdrawn after it was severely damaged in practice. The team’s second entry was driven by Olivier Beretta and David Saelens. The duo started third in LMP900. They inherited second in class when the Champion Audi encountered a problem and would maintain the position until the finish.
The Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Porsche GT3RS driven by Johnny Mowlem and Craig Stanton was the third quickest GT car in qualifying. Stanton jumped into an early lead but spun while being passed by the Joest Audi and one of the Dyson Lolas. The pair dropped down the race order but drove hard to improve their position and were third in class at the checkered flag.
Starting third overall and second in the LMP900 class was the No. 38 Audi R8 driven by Johnny Herbert and J.J. Lehto. In the morning warm-up, there was an electrical problem that required the crew to replace the ECU wiring harness. Less an hour into the race, Herbert pitted for what appeared to be routine stop but the Audi was taken behind the wall for a new transmission. They returned to finish third in class.
The No. 35 Ferrari 360 Modena GT struggled with reliability issues earlier in the season but those problems had been resolved and the team was posting some excellent results. Sharing the driving duties were Anthony Lazzaro and Ralf Kelleners. They were gridded fourth in the GT class. They could not maintain the pace of the Alex Job Porsches but were able to move into second by the conclusion of the event.
The Ferrari’s traded fast times all weekend but it was the No. 80 Prodrive entry qualified by Jan Magnussen that would start on the GTS pole - in the process, he set a new lap record. Magnussen and his co-driver David Brabham lost a position to their teammates during the contest and were second in class at the finish. However, the first place Ferrari was disqualified and the duo was awarded the GTS victory.

1LMP900Biela / WernerAudi R8120-
2LMP675Weaver / LeitzingerLola EX257120-
3LMP900Beretta / SaelensPanoz LMP01118-
4LMP900Herbert / LehtoAudi R8115-
5LMP900Lewis / DrissiR & S MK III C113-
6GTSMagnussen / BrabhamFerrari 550 Maranello113-
7LMP900C. Field / SutherlandR & S MKIII C112-
8GTSFellows / O'ConnellChevrolet Corvette C5-R111-
9GTSGavin / CollinsChevrolet Corvette C5-R111-
10GTSNaspetti / Schiattarella / AuberlenFerrari 550 Maranello110-
11GTMaassen / LuhrPorsche GT3RS108-
12GTSBelloc / WeickardtDodge Viper GTS-R108-
13GTKelleners / LazzaroFerrari 360 Modena107-
14GTMowlem / Stanton / JonssonPorsche GT3RS107-
15GTLiddell / CaffiPorsche GT3RS106-
16GTBuckler / WagnerPorsche GT3RS106-
17LMP675Workman / BradleyLola B2K/40106-
18GTGregoire / Salazar /AlexanderFerrari 360 Modena105-
19GTLewis / BorchellerFerrari 360 Modena105-
20GTGleason / BuntingPorsche GT3RS104-
21GTBernhard / BergmeisterPorsche GT3RS104-
22GTSchrom / EhretPorsche GT3RS104-
23GTJay Policastro / Joe PolicastroPorsche GT3RS103-
24GTRice / WarnockPorsche GT3RS103-
25GTEarle / NeuhausFerrari 360 Modena101-
26LMP675Jon Field / DaytonLola EX257101-
27GTHindery / BaronPorsche GT3RS98-
28GTFoster / Nyberg /SkeltonPanoz Esperante GT-LM95-
29GTJackson / MurryPorsche GT3RS84-
30LMP675C. Dyson / WallaceLola EX25740Engine
31GTNegri / FrissellePorsche GT3RS36Gearbox
32LMP675Bucknum / Willman / McMurryPilbeam MP9126Motor
33GTPumpelly / LallyPorsche GT3RS16Transmission
-GTSKox / EngeFerrari 550 Maranello-Disqualified

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