2006 was the eighth season for the American Le Mans Series. The only significant change to the championship involved this year’s schedule. There would no longer be two events at Road Atlanta. The Road Atlanta date would be replaced by a race weekend at Houston’s Reliant Park. Also, Infineon Raceway was dropped in favour of a new venue in Salt Lake City called Miller Motorsports Park.

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.

  • Le Mans Prototype 1 (LMP1) – These were the purpose-built race cars powered by a 6.0-liter normally aspirated or 4.0-liter turbocharged engine. The vehicles could weigh no less than 924-kilograms (approximately 2,040-pounds). Competing in the series was the new factory supported diesel-powered Audi R10. Privateer teams were entered in cars such as the Lola B06/10, Creation CA06/H, MG-Lola EX257 and Zytek 06S.
  • 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 were written so that the two LMP classes (LMP1 and LMP2) would be contending for the overall win. Manufacturers producing cars for this category included Courage, Lola, Radial and Porsche.
  • Grand Touring 1 (GT1) – This class included production-based vehicles such as the Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, Saleen S7-R and Aston Martin DBR9. The cars were permitted to use 8.0-liter normally aspirated or 4.0-liter turbocharged engines. These vehicles could weigh no less than 1,125-kilograms (approximately 2,480-pounds).
  • Grand Touring 2 (GT2) – The GT cars were also restricted to a 1,125-kilogram weight rule and had similar engine limitations as the GT1 class. These were also production-based machines, which included vehicles such as the BMW M3, Porsche GT3RSR, Panoz Esperante GT-LM and Ferrari F430 GTC.

The 2006 American Le Mans Series schedule includes ten North American events. The season kicks off with the 54th edition of 12 Hours of Sebring. It is followed by a new venue - the temporary street circuit at Houston’s Reliant Park. At the end of May, teams travel to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Then the championship takes a break in June to allow some teams to compete at the 24-Hour 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 the new Miller Motorsports Park 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 a visit to Road Atlanta for Petit Le Man. Class winners at this event earn an automatic invitation to next year’s 24-Hours of Le Mans. In October, the 2006 season comes to a close with a 4-hour contest at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

In late May, round three of the 2006 American Le Mans Series was conducted at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Twenty-three entries competed on the thirteen-turn 2.258-mile road course for two-hours, forty-five minutes.

The first lap of round three for the 2006 American Le Mans Series at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The leaders enter the ‘Carousel’ in the order they started. In first place is the No. 6 Penske Motorsports Porsche RS Spyder driven by Sascha Maassen. Behind Maassen is Allan McNish in the Audi Sport North America Audi R8 and the No. 16 Lola B06/10 of Dyson Racing’s Butch Leitzinger.
After a successful debut last year, the Penske team returned with two Porsche RS Spyders. Piloting the No. 7 entry were Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas. Bernhard qualified on the pole but would start at the rear of the field when the Porsche failed the technical inspection – it was two-kilos below the minimum weight. That seemed to be of little consequence as the pair maneuvered their way to the front and won overall.
Audi Sport North America entered its new R10 TDI at Sebring and was victorious. It would not return to return to the series until after Le Mans. At Mid-Ohio, drivers, Allan McNish and Rinaldo Capello, would be competing in the old R8 model. In qualifying, McNish could not match the pace of Porsches but started second after the disqualification. Before the end of the race, McNish and Capello, would lose a position but win LMP1.
Entering the Mid-Ohio round, Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta, drivers on the No. 4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, were the GT1 points leaders. They were victorious at Sebring and Houston. Gavin qualified the Corvette and was second fastest in GT1. He jumped into the class lead early and pulled away. Beretta maintained first place and the pair scored their eighth consecutive GT1 win, a series record.
Three different races and three different GT2 class winners. At Sebring, the victory went to Multimatic Motorsports, followed by Alex Job Racing in Houston. At the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, it was the Flying Lizards’ Wolf Henzler and Johannes van Overbeek. The No. 45 Porsche GT3RSR started fifteenth overall and third in class. During the race, they finished a lap ahead of the second-place Panoz and retained the GT2 points lead.
In qualifying, the spread from the fastest to the slowest GT1 entry was 0.187-seconds. Although, there were only four cars in the category, the tight field which promised close racing. Johnny O’Connell qualified the No. 3 Corvette and was fourth in class. O’Connell and his co-driver, Ron Fellows, moved into second place, but a pit line violation resulted in a stop-and-go penalty, which contributed to the second place in GT1.
The Sebring GT2 winners, Scott Maxwell and David Brabham, were gridded sixteenth overall and fourth in their class. The pair shared the No. 50 Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz Panoz Esperante GTLM. Late in the contest, most of the class contenders had retired or encountered mechanical issues. The battle for the victory was between the No. 50 Panoz and the Flying Lizards’ Porsche. The Panoz lost a lap and finished second.
Sharing the No. 16 Dyson Racing Lola B06/10 were Butch Leitzinger and James Weaver. Leitzinger was fourth fastest in qualifying but was elevated to third after the No. 7 Porsche’s technical infraction. During his time behind the wheel, he battled with the Porsche of Timo Bernhard for third place. Weaver drove the final stint, but a flat tire took the team out of contention. They finished fifth overall and second in the LMP1 class.
The Petersen Motorsports / White Lightning Racing Porsche GT3RSR started first in GT2 and thirteenth overall, with the credit going to Patrick Long. Long and his co-driver, Jorg Bergmeister, were in contention for most of the contest. On lap-93, the left-rear half shaft failed on the Porsche. The defending class champions were classified nineteenth overall and seventh in the GT2 category.
The No. 6 Penske Motorsports entry was piloted by Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr. With the disqualification of their teammates, they started on the pole. Maassen led the field during his stint. After the scheduled stop, Luhr took over the driving, but a flat tire forced him to pit and lose first place. For the remainder of the contest, he chased his teammate, Romain Dumas and finished second overall and in the LMP2 class.
Starting third in GT1 and ninth overall was the Aston Martin DB9 of Tomas Enge and Darren Turner. Enge led the class briefly when the first place Corvette pitted. Shortly after his stop, the Aston Martin suffered a flat tire. Enge and Turner lost a lap to the Corvettes during a full race caution and the second round of pit-stops. The No. 007 Aston Martin was eighth at the checkered flag and third in the GT1 category.
The defending LMP2 champion, Clint Field, was sharing the Intersport Racing Lola B05/40 with Liz Halliday. The team won the first two rounds of 2006 but would be hard-pressed to maintain the pace of the Penske Porsches. In qualifying, team owner Jon Field was fifth quickest. A shifter issue at the beginning of the race prevented the Intersport team from being a threat. They finished third in LMP2 but were still the class point leaders.
In the previous round at Houston, the Risi Competizione Ferrari F430 GTC started on the class pole. At the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Mika Salo was second fastest during the qualifying session. Salo and his co-driver, Jaime Melo, would start fourteenth overall. Despite the solid qualifying performance, it was a dismal race for the pair. They finished sixth in class after a flat tire on the opening lap and mechanical issues during the race.
Sharing the No. 44 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche GT3RSR were Seth Neiman and Darren Law. The Porsche was gridded eighteenth overall and sixth in GT2 for round three. In the race, Neiman and Law inherited positions when their competition encountered problems. At the checkered flag, they were two-laps behind the class winners – fourteenth overall but third in the GT2 category.

1LMP2Dumas / BernhardPorsche RS Spyder119-
2LMP2Maassen / LuhrPorsche RS Spyder119-
3LMP1McNish / CapelloAudi R8119-
4LMP2Halliday / FieldLola B05/40116-
5LMP1Weaver / LeitzingerLola B06/10116-
6GT1Gavin / BerettaChevrolet Corvette C6-R116-
7GT1Fellows / O'ConnellChevrolet Corvette C6-R116-
8GT1Turner / EngeAston Martin DBR9115-
9GT1Sarrazin / LamyAston Martin DBR9115-
10LMP2Cosmo / BachCourage C65112-
11GT2Henzler / Van OverbeekPorsche GT3RSR111-
12LMP1McMurry / LewisLola EX257111-
13GT2Maxwell / BrabhamPanoz Esperante GTLM110-
14GT2Neiman / LawPorsche GT3RSR109-
15GT2Auberlen / HandBMW M3 E46109-
16GT2Marks / SellersBMW M3 E46107-
17GT2Melo / SaloFerrari F430 GTC105-
18LMP2van der Steur / DevlinLola B2K/40104-
19GT2Bergmeister / LongPorsche GT3RSR93-
20GT2Jeannette / MilnerPanoz Esperante GTLM57Electrical
21LMP1Smith / DysonLola B06/103Transmission
22GT2Rockenfeller / GrafPorsche GT3RSR0Transmission

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