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 cars 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 which 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 included ten North American events. The season kicks off with the 53rd edition of the 12 Hours of Sebring. It is followed by the series’ first visit to Road Atlanta. The remaining events will be held at Mid-Ohio, Lime Rock, Sonoma, Portland International Raceway, Road America, Mosport, Road Atlanta and the season finale at Laguna Seca.

Heavy rains for most Thursday forced series officials to cancel qualifying. It became a free practice session with none of the teams taking advantage of the additional track time. As a result, the grid was set by practice times.

Sebring would be the opening race of the 2005 American Le Mans Series season. Drivers would compete for twelve-hours around the seventeen-turn 3.74-mile road course.

As expected the front row for this year’s 12-Hours of Sebring was occupied by the ADT Champion Racing Audi R8s. Quickest in practice was the No. 1 Audi shared by J.J. Lehto, Tom Kristensen and Macro Werner. It was Lehto who gets credit for the trio starting on the pole. The team battled with the second Audi and the Dyson Lolas but they remained in first for much of the contest. In the end, they won by a margin of 6.365-seconds.
The experts predicted this year’s GT1 winner at the 12-Hours of Sebring would be one of the Corvettes. With good reason as many of the other entrants in the class were competing in new machinery. Proving them wrong was the No. 57 Aston Martin DBR9, driven by Darren Turner, David Brabham and Stephane Ortelli. The DBR9 which started fifth in class ran relatively problem free during the event to claim the class victory.
Sharing the Peterson Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Porsche GT3RSR were Jorg Bergmeister, Patrick Long and Lucas Luhr. As expected, they were the quickest GT2 entry with Bergmeister getting credit for securing the class pole. Their greatest threat for a win came from the Alex Job Racing team. Unfortunately, the Job Porsches encountered a series of problems. The three drivers captured the victory by a margin of seven laps.
The brand new Lola B05/40 entered by Telesis Intersport Racing was expected to dominate the LMP2 class. Drivers, Gregor Fisken, Duncan Dayton and team owner, Jon Field gave notice in the first session that it would be the car to beat. As practice became qualifying, due to the rain, the Lola started first in class and fifth overall. During the race, there were several issues with the Lola and at the midway point, it was retired.
A couple of cars were competing in this year’s event that are not usually seen in North America. Team LNT entered two TVR 400R in the GT2 category. Seven of these TVRs were constructed and fitted with a 4.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine. Unfortunately, it was the power plant that let the team down. On lap-136, they had their first motor failure and twenty-one circuits later the second car lost an engine.
Another car rarely seen in America is the Spyker. They made their 12-Hours of Sebring debut in 2002 which ended after ninety-two-laps with an on-track incident. This year the Spyker Squadron entered two Spyker C8 Spyders in the GT2 class. Sadly, bad luck continued to haunt the team at Sebring. The No. 47 Spyker was the first car to retire and a mechanical issue on lap 121-ended the race for the second car.
Quickest in GT1 was Oliver Gavin who shared the No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C6.R with Olivier Beretta and Jan Magnussen. The Corvette fell out of the lead in the eighth hour when Gavin was hit by a Porsche. The car lost more time in the ninth hour when there was contact between Beretta and The Racers Group Porsche. It took almost 45-minutes for the crew to repair the car. Out of contention for the win, they finished third in class.
Starting second overall and in the LMP1 category was the No. 2 ADT Champion Racing Audi R8. Emanuele Pirro would share the Audi with last year’s winners, Frank Biela and Alan McNish. The team struggled with some penalties early in the race but remained in contention for the victory. McNish drove the final stint and was in second place. He closed the gap on the leader, Tom Kristensen but not enough to make a pass.
Finishing second in GT2 and eleventh overall was the J3 Racing prepared Porsche GT3RSR of drivers, Tim Sugden and Niclas Johsson. The trio was gridded tenth in their category for the start of the race. Attrition and the misfortune of their competitors, in particular, the retirement of the always meticulously prepared Alex Job Porsches allowed them to move up the race order and capture the runner-up position.
The GT1 Maserati MC12 generated some controversy at the 12-Hour event. The MC12 is built on an Enzo Ferrari chassis but the body is longer, wider and it has a lower coefficient of drag. At issue, was the size of the car which was exceeded the class’ dimensions. Weight penalties were imposed and the Maserati raced. Drivers, Andrea Bertolini, Fabio Babini and Fabrizio de Simone, finished fifth in class.
Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connell were going for their fourth consecutive victory at the 12-Hours of Sebring. Joining the duo in the No. 3 Corvette was Max Papis. The trio started second in GT1 – ninth overall. During the race, they were in a three-way battle with their teammates and the No. 57 Aston Martin. Their teammates fell out of contention. They didn’t have the late race speed to challenge the Aston and finished second.
The quicker of the two Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche GT3RSR entries was the No. 45 piloted by Johannes van Overbeek, Darren Law and Jon Fogarty. The team was the fourth quickest GT2 car in practice. By the fourth hour, the team was second in class and held the position until they encountered brake problems in the eighth hour. Repairs were made and the trio was fortunate to capture the last spot on the class podium.
The second row of the grid was occupied by the Dyson Racing Lolas. Quicker of the two was the No. 20 B01/60 shared by Chris Dyson and Guy Smith. James Weaver, Butch Leitzinger and Andy Wallace drove the No. 16 Lola. In the second hour of the race, the Dyson/Smith car dropped out of contention and eventually, retired with a clutch issue. The remaining entry could not match the pace of the Audis and finished a distant third.
Favoured to win GT2 were the two Alex Job Racing Porsches. The No. 24 entry, shared by Randy Pobst, Ian Baas and Brian Cunningham was the first Job Porsche to retire. They encountered transmission issues after only sixty –two-laps. The second GT3RSR piloted by Timo Bernhard, Sascha Maassen and Romain Dumas led most of the first three hours of the race, but a terminal engine problem ended their day.
The ACEMCO Motorsports Saleen S7R with a driver line-up that included, Johnny Mowlem, Terry Borcheller and Ralf Kelleners were expected to challenge the Corvettes. Winning in 2001, the Saleen had proved it had the speed and reliability. Starting third in GT2, the group maintained their position until the final hour of the race. Unfortunately, a massive oil leak forced the team to retire and settle for fourth in class.
The LMP2 race became ‘survival of the fittest.’ And, the fittest of them all was the No. 10 Miracle Motorsports prepared Courage C65. The Courage was quick in practice and started behind the pole-winning entry from Telesis Intersport Racing. Sharing the car were, Jeff Bucknum, Chris McMurry and Ian James. The team had their challenges during the race which included a flat tire and stopping on course but held on for the win.

1LMP1Lehto / Werner / KristensenAudi R8361-
2LMP1Pirro / Biela / McNishAudi R8361-
3LMP1Weaver / Leitzinger / WallaceLola EX257341-
4GT1Turner / Brabham / OrtelliAston Martin DBR9338-
5GT1Fellows / O'Connell / PapisChevrolet Corvette C6.R337-
6GT1Beretta / Gavin / MagnussenChevrolet Corvette C6.R323-
7GT2Bergmeister / Long / LuhrPorsche GT3RSR321-
8GT1Borcheller / Mowlem / KellernersSaleen S7R318Oil Leak
9GT1Bertolini / Babini / de SimoneMaserati MC12316-
10GT1Empringham / Figge / DalzielChevrolet Corvette C5.R315-
11GT2Jonsson / SugdenPorsche GT3RSR314-
12LMP2McMurry / James / BucknumCourage C65311-
13GT2Fogarty / van Overbeek / LawPorsche GT3RSR311-
14GT1Belloc / Rugolo / WeickardtDodge Viper310-
15GT1Kox / Lamy / SarrazinAston Martin DBR9303-
16GT2Cawley / Sluszny / KrohnPorsche GT3RSR297-
17GT2Vergers / Barazi / ThompsonPorsche GT3RSR278-
18GT2Lally / Pumpelly / IvankovichPorsche GT3RSR275-
19LMP1Smith / DysonLola EX257264Clutch
20GT2Maxwell / Sellers / JeannettePanoz Esperante GTLM239-
21LMP2Primat / Bennett / MitchellCourage C65238Engine
22GT2Rockenfeller / Jensen / BurgessPorsche GT3RSR207Engine
23LMP1Lewis / Drissi / WillmanRiley & Scott Mk IIIC202Transmission
24LMP2Field / Dayton / FiskenLola B05/40166Transmission
25GT1Smith / Cole / SutherlandSaleen S7R159Accident
26GT2Dean / Hynes / PearceTVR 400R157Engine
27GT1Bouchut / Gollin / BourdaisFerrari 550155Transmission
28GT2Kane / Hughes / TomlisonTVR 400R136Engine
29LMP1Theys / Barbosa / KrummDallara SP1130Transmission
30GT2Auberlen / Liddell / NaspettiPanoz Esperante GTLM121Electrical
31GT2Coronel / Goossens / CrevelsSpyker C8121Mechanical
32GT2Bernhard / Maassen / DumasPorsche GT3RSR98Engine
33LMP2Field / Halliday / RidpathLola B2K/4062Electrical
34GT2Baas / Pobst / CunninghamPorsche GT3RSR62Transmission
35GT2Murry / Neiman / PechnikPorsche GT3RSR46Engine
36GT2Ehret / Buckler / DavisPorsche GT3RSR21Engine
37GT2Franchitti / Munsterhuis / Van MerksteijnSpyker C818Driveline
38LMP2Binnie / Julien / SharpeLola B05/4211Disqualified

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