2005 was the seventh season for the American Le Mans Series. The rules for the championship were the same as those used at the legendary 24-Hour of Le Mans. This meant there were four categories competing for class honours. In the offseason, the GTS and GT categories received a name change – now being designated as GT1 and GT2.

  • Le Mans Prototype 1 (LMP1) – These are the purpose-built race cars powered by a 6.0-liter normally aspirated or 4.0-liter turbocharged engine. The vehicles can weigh no less than 924-kilograms (approximately 2,040-pounds). Competing in the series is the factory-supported Audi R8. Privateer teams are entered in cars such as the Lola B06/10, Lola EX257 and Zytek 04S.
  • Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) – LMP675 class was introduced in 2001 for vehicles that could weigh no less than 675-kilograms. In 2004, this became the LMP2 class and the minimum weight was set at 775-kilograms (approximately 1,708-pounds). The rules are written so that the two LMP classes (LMP1 and LMP2) can contend for the overall win. Manufacturers producing cars for this class include the Courage C65, Lola and Radial.
  • Grand Touring 1 (GT1) – This class includes production-based vehicles such as the Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, Saleen S7R, Maserati MC12, Dodge Viper and Aston Martin DBR9. The cars are permitted to use 8.0-liter normally aspirated or 4.0-liter turbocharged engines. These cars can weigh no less than 1,125-kilograms (approximately 2,480-pounds).
  • Grand Touring 2 (GT2) – The GT cars are also restricted to a 1,125-kilogram weight rule and have similar engine limitations as the GT1 class. These are also production-based machines, which include vehicles such as the Porsche GT3RSR and Panoz Esperante GTLM.

The 2005 American Le Mans Series schedule includes ten North American events. The season kicked offs with the 53rd edition of the 12 Hours of Sebring. Sebring is followed by the series’ first of two visits to Road Atlanta. The third round is held in May at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Then the championship takes a break in June to allow some teams to compete at the 24-Hours of Le Mans. In early July, competitors return to North America to participate in the New England Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park. The series then heads to the West Coast for race weekends at Infineon Raceway and Portland International Raceway. After the West Coast swing, events are held at Road America and the series only Canadian stop, Mosport International Raceway. The penultimate round is the second visit to Road Atlanta for Petit Le Man. In October, the 2005 season comes to a close with a 4-Hour contest at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

For the second consecutive year, the American Le Mans season ended with a 4-hour race into the darkness at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The LMP1 championship was settled but titles were still on the line for the other three classes.

It’s not the first time this season that the No. 16 Dyson Lola has qualified second but jumped into the lead shortly after the start of the race. Butch Leitzinger was gridded second in the Thetford / Norcold Lola EX257 but beat the field to corner two, including the pole-winning Zytek 04S. Behind the Lola and Zytek are Leitzinger’s teammate, Chris Dyson, the two Champion Audi R8s and the new Porsche RS Spyder.
The No. 15 Zytek Engineering Zytek 04S qualified on the pole at Petit Le Mans but retired as a result of contact on the opening lap. At Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, not only was Tom Chilton the fastest qualifier but he broke the four-year-old lap record. Chilton and his co-driver, Hayanari Shimoda, traded first place throughout the race with the Champion and Dyson teams. Shimoda led the final 72-laps and won by a margin of 75.064-seconds.
As usual, the GT1 championship came down to the two Corvette Racing entries. This year the title would go to the drivers of the No. 4 Corvette C6.R, Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin. Beretta and Gavin led the title chase entering the finale. Beretta recorded the third-fastest time in the GT1 qualifying session. They maintained pace with the leaders and when their teammates encountered problems, they grabbed the lead and victory.
Porsche was going to debut their new RS Spyder at Petit Le Mans but waited until the finale at Laguna Seca. This is Porsche’s first racing prototype sports car since the 962-model, which was produced in the late 80s. The car is built to LMP2 specifications. The carbon fiber monocoque is fitted with a 3.4-liter V8 engine and a six-speed sequential transmission. Drivers, Lucas Luhr and Sascha Maassen, won their class by an eight-lap margin.
The GT2 championship was between the No. 23 Alex Job drivers (Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard) and the Petersen / White Lightning duo of Patrick Long and Jorg Bergmeister. In qualifying, Long was 0.130-seconds slower than the pole-sitter, Dumas. At the two-hour mark of the race, the Alex Job car fell out of contention. Long and Bergmeister fought with the No. 50 Panoz and BAM Porsche but were able to capture the win and title.
Qualifying the No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C6.R was Johnny O’Connell. O’Connell was 0.412-seconds slower than the GT1 pole-winning Saleen. As usual, he was partnered with Ron Fellows. Fellows started the race and took the lead early. The pair dominated the contest until the final hour. During a routine stop, the crew failed to tighten the left rear wheel. The additional time in the pits resulted in a second-place finish.
Panoz Motor Sports entered two of their Panoz Esperante GTLM models. Driving the No. 50 Panoz was Bill Auberlen and Robin Liddell. The pair scored a victory in round two but since then, they had not finished on the podium. Liddell qualified the car fourth fastest in the GT2 category. During the race, they kept pace with the front runners and Auberlen led late in the event but surrendered first place to Jorg Bergmeister and finished second.
This was an important weekend for Clint Field as he had an excellent chance of securing the LMP2 championship. Unfortunately, the team suffered through a series of issues. Sharing the Lola with Field was Liz Halliday and his father, Jon. The senior Field qualified second last. Clint only needed to complete 70% of the contest to earn the title. The Lola was in and out the pits during the race but in the end, it was mission accomplished.
Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro wrapped up the LMP1 Driver’s title in the previous round at Petit Le Mans. They started the four-hour event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in fourth place. Throughout the event, they maintained pace with the leaders – Biela led twenty-laps during his stint. They could not catch the Zytek in the final hour and captured a runner-up finish. Biela and Pirro had earned podium finishes in all ten ALMS races.
The BAM team went through a number of driver combinations before they settled on Wolf Henzler and Mike Rockenfeller, beginning at Road America. The duo earned a podium finish in round eight at Mosport. Qualifying the No. 43 Porsche GT3RSR was Rockenfeller, who was the third-fastest in GT2. At the start of the contest, he jumped into the lead. They battled with the front runners throughout the event and at the finish were third in GT2.
Early in the Thursday afternoon practice session, the left front spindle broke on the No. 58 Aston Martin DB9R while Pedro Lamy was in the ‘Corkscrew.’ The damage was repaired by the crew and the car returned Friday morning. Peter Kox qualified the Aston Martin fourth. Kox and Lamy were unable to match the pace set by the Corvettes, but they were able to capture the final spot on the GT1 podium.
For the second time in three races (Mosport being the first), Terry Borcheller set the fastest time in the GT1 qualifying session. The ACEMCO sponsored Saleen S7.R driven by Borcheller and Johnny Mowlem would start eighth overall. Before the first hour of the race was completed, Borcheller had to pit for a new power steering belt. From that point on, they were never in contention and finished fifth in class and nineteenth overall.
The No. 20 Dyson Racing Lola EX257 shared by Chris Dyson and Andy Wallace was third fastest during the qualifying session. Dyson and Wallace maintained the pace early in the race but were never a threat for the top spot. During the final hour, they lost a lap to the race leading Zytek and the No. 2 Audi. At the checkered flag, the pair were in third place – earning their sixth podium finish of the season.
Alex Job Racing drivers, Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard, had a chance of winning the GT2 Driver’s title. After Sebring, they scored a series of podium finishes but in the last two rounds, the duo had bad luck. At Laguna Seca, Dumas qualified on the class pole. The team ran with the leaders until hour two of the race when Bernhard had contact with another car. At that point, they fell out of contention and finished fifth in GT2.
The Miracle Motorsports Courage C65 entered the finale with a record that included three victories, but drivers, Jeff Bucknum and Chris McMurry, did not complete the full schedule. At Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, they were joined by James Gue. The trio qualified second in the LMP2 class but was 4.453-seconds slower than the pole-winning Penske Porsche RS Spyder. A consistent performance earned the team a runner-up finish.

1LMP1Shimoda / ChiltonZytek 04S164-
2LMP1Pirro / BielaAudi R8164-
3LMP1Wallace / DysonLola EX257163-
4LMP1Lehto / WernerAudi R8163-
5LMP2Maassen / LuhrPorsche RS Spyder163-
6LMP1Weaver / LeitzingerLola EX257162-
7GT1Beretta / GavinChevrolet Corvette C6.R158-
8GT1Fellows / O'ConnellChevrolet Corvette C6.R157-
9GT1Kox / LamyAston Martin DB9156-
10GT1Turner / BrabhamAston Martin DB9155-
11LMP2McMurry / Bucknum / GueCourage C65155-
12LMP2Cosmo / BachCourage C65154-
13LMP1Lewis / WillmanRiley & Scott MKIIIC152-
14GT2Bergmeister / LongPorsche GT3RSR151-
15GT2Auberlen / LiddellPanoz Esperante GTLM151-
16GT2Henzler / RockenfellerPorsche GT3RSR151-
17GT2Fogarty / van OverbeekPorsche GT3RSR151-
18GT2Bernhard / DumasPorsche GT3RSR150-
19GT1Borcheller / MowlemSaleen S7R148Mechanical
20GT2Sugden / JacksonPorsche GT3RSR148-
21GT2Sellers / FranchittiPanoz Esperante GTLM147-
22GT2Neiman / PechnikPorsche GT3RSR147-
23LMP2van der Steur / DevlinLola B2K/40139-
24GT1Rugolo / WeickardtDodge Viper137-
25GT2Petrini / FabrisPorsche GT3RSR129Off Course
26LMP2Field / Field / HallidayLola B05/40125-
27GT1Bertolini / de SimoneMaserati MC1294Accident
28GT2Baas / LawPorsche GT3RSR33Engine

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