2007 was the ninth season for the American Le Mans Series. A couple of the more notable news stories for the year was an agreement with the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council to use ethanol fuel in the entries powered by gasoline. Secondly, there were some significant changes to the schedule. In 2006 there were ten race weekends; this season, there would be twelve. The series would drop Portland International Raceway and add venues at St. Petersburg, Long Beach and Belle Isle.

The championship kicked off with the 55th edition of 12 Hours of Sebring. It was followed by one of the newest stops on the calendar - a temporary street circuit at St. Petersburg, Florida. After St. Petersburg, the teams traveled to California for an event on the streets of Long Beach. The series then headed to Texas for a race weekend at Reliant Park. In May, the championship returned to a traditional road course, Miller Motorsport Park in Utah. The series took a break in June to allow some of the teams to compete at the 24-Hour of Le Mans. In early July, competitors returned to North America to participate in the New England Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park, which is followed by the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Road America and Mosport International Raceway. On Labour Day weekend, the teams return to another temporary circuit, Belle Isle, in Detroit. The penultimate round is Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta and the season finale is held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

The championship rules were unchanged from 2006. The series is guided by the regulations used at the legendary 24 Hour of Le Mans. This meant four categories are competing for class honours.

  • 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 was the factory-supported diesel-powered Audi R10 TDI. Privateer teams were entered in cars such as the Lola B06/14, Creation CA06/H and Zytek 07S. These cars are powered by a wide range of engines producing between 600-700 horsepower.
  • 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) would be contending for the overall win. Manufacturers producing cars for this class included Acura, Lola, Radial and Porsche. LMP2 cars use smaller displacement engines producing between 500-550 horsepower.
  • Grand Touring 1 (GT1) – This class includes production-based vehicles such as the Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, Saleen S7.R and Aston Martin DBR9. The cars are permitted to use 8.0-liter normally aspirated or 4.0-liter turbocharged engines, which produce between 600-650 horsepower. These cars could weigh no less than 1,125-kilograms (approximately 2,480-pounds).
  • Grand Touring 2 (GT2) – The GT2 cars were also restricted to a 1,125-kilogram weight rule and had similar engine limitations as the GT1 class. These are also production-based machines, which include vehicles such as the BMW M3, Porsche GT3RSR, Panoz Esperante GT-LM and Ferrari F430 GT.

Sebring International Raceway hosted the opening round of the 2007 American Le Mans Series. Drivers would compete for twelve-hours around the seventeen-turn 3.74-mile road course.

Thirty-four competitors exit Sebring International Raceway’s last turn in anticipation of the Starter’s flag for the 55th running of the 12-Hours of Sebring. The front of the field is occupied by two LMP1 Audi R10s entered by Audi Sport North America. The second row includes the two quickest LMP2 teams – the first of two Penske Motorsports Porsche RS Spyders and the Acura ARX-01a of Highcroft Racing.
A new qualifying lap record was set in the LMP1 class by Marco Werner driving the No. 2 Audi R10. Werner’s time was 0.854-seconds quicker than the mark set by Allan McNish in 2006. W erner’s driving partners were Frank Biela and Emanuelle Pirro. The experienced trio had a combined total of six Sebring victories. Despite issues which included losing a tire and a stop-and-go penalty, Werner, Pirro and Biela won by a margin of six-laps.
There were three GT1 entries but it would only be a ‘two horse race.’ In addition to the two factory Corvettes, there was an Aston Martin which could maintain the pace of the Vettes. The No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C6.R driven by Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Max Papis started fourteenth overall and second in class. The intermural battle with their teammates raged on for twelve-hours with the trio taking the class victory.
Topping the GT2 qualifying sheet was Jaime Melo driving the No. 62 Ferrari F430 GT. Melo spun the car after setting the time and flat spotted the tires. The team chose replaced them and was required to start from the rear of the grid. During the race, Melo and his co-drivers, Mika Salo and Johnny Mowlem moved into the lead. The final lap for the win was a door banging duel between Melo and Jorg Bergmeister with Melo getting the victory.
The No. 1 Audi R10 was shared by last year’s winner, Allan McNish, Rinaldo Capello and Tom Kristensen. Capello was second quickest in qualifying – missing the pole by 0.352-seconds. Early in the event, the Audis battled for first overall. By the fifth hour of the race, the No. 1 car was experiencing starting issues after the pit-stops. The problem persisted and the team fell by the wayside, they finished a distant second in LMP1.
In their series debut with a new car the Andretti Green Racing team won the LMP2 category and finished second overall. Drivers, Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan and Bryan Herta, started fourth in class driving an Acura ARX-01a. In the fourth hour, Herta gabbed first place in LMP2. Mid-race, the team was trading the overall lead with the No. 2 Audi. Unable to keep pace with the overall winners, they were six-laps behind at the finish.
Another team making their American Le Mans Series debut was Lowe’s Fernandez Racing. The team was competing in a new Lola B06/43 powered by an Acura engine. Piloting the Lola was team principal, Adrian Fernandez, Luis Diaz and David Martinez. In the race, the trio joined the lead pack but could not maintain the pace of the No. 2 Audi and Andretti Green Acura. They finished a well-deserved second in class.
There was a very strong field of LMP2 entries. Leading the way was the No. 7 Penske Motorsports Porsche RS Spyder. Timo Bernhard handled the qualifying and captured the class pole. Joining Bernhard were Romain Dumas and Helio Castroneves. Bernhard led early but by the fifth hour the team was encountering electrical problems and fell off the pace. They did well to finish third, albeit seven laps behind the class winners.
The battle for the GT1 pole position was between Corvette Racing’s Jan Magnussen and Oliver Gavin. The honour went to Magnussen driving the No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C6.R. Sharing the car with Magnussen was Johnny O’Connell and Ron Fellows. On race morning the No. 3 car appeared with a new livery to recognize Ron Fellows contribution to the Corvette racing program. Unfortunately, the trio finished in the runner-up spot.
Sharing the No. 45 Porsche GT3RSR were Johannes van Overbeek, Jorg Bergmeister and Marc Lieb. The Porsche started eighteenth overall and second in GT2. The drivers stayed in contention and during the final hour were the only team that could challenge the Risi Ferrari. A late race pit-stop and penalty allowed, Bergmeister to close the gap on the Ferrari. Some heavy contact on the final lap prevented him from passing and, he finished second.
Tafel Racing entered two Porsches. Starting fourth in the GT2 class and nineteenth overall were drivers, Wolf Henzler, Robin Liddell and Patrick Long in the No. 71 GT3RSR. Midway through the contest, only three GT2 teams were on the same lap – Risi Competizione, Flying Lizard Motorsports and the No. 71 Tafel Racing Porsche. An extended pit-stop took the team out of contention and the trio finished third – eight laps behind the leaders.
In addition to Andretti Green, Highcroft Racing also entered a new LMP2 Acura ARX-01a. The Acura was raced by sports car veterans, Stefan Johansson and David Brabham along with the team principal, Duncan Dayton. Starting from the fourth position on the grid, they maintained pace with the class leaders until hour eight when an electrical problem created a shifting problem. Falling off the pace, the trio finished a distant fourth in class.
The Peterson/White Lightning Ferrari F430 GT qualified second in GT2 thanks to Tomas Enge. However, the Ferrari started from the category pole after the Risi Competizione team decided to replace their tires for the race. Partnering with Enge for the twelve-hour event were Tim Bergmeister and Memo Gidley. In the race, Enge’s class lead was short- lived – contact force him to pit early. The team would never be in contention and finished eighth.

1LMP1Werner / Pirro / BielaAudi R10 TDI364-
2LMP2Kanaan / Herta / FranchittiAcura ARX-01a358-
3LMP2Fernandez / Diaz / MartinezLola B06/43 Acura356-
4LMP1Capello / McNish / KristensenAudi R10 TDI353-
5LMP2Bernhard / Dumas / CastronevesPorsche RS Spyder351-
6LMP2Brabham / Johansson / DaytonAcura ARX-01a346-
7GT1Gavin / Beretta / PapisChevrolet Corvette C6.R341-
8GT1Magnussen / O'Connell / FellowsChevrolet Corvette C6.R341-
9LMP2Leitzinger / Wallace / LallyPorsche RS Spyder340-
10LMP2Dyson / SmithPorsche RS Spyder333-
11GT1Turner / Garcia / HallidayAston Martin DBR9331-
12GT2Melo / Salo / MowlemFerrari F430 GT330-
13GT2Bergmeister / Van Overbeek / LiebPorsche GT3RSR330-
14LMP1Field / Field / BerryCreation CA06H325-
15GT2Henzler / Liddell / LongPorsche GT3RSR322-
16GT2Werner / Ehret / NielsenPorsche GT3RSR316-
17GT2Farnbacher / Tafel / JamesPorsche GT3RSR314-
18GT2Kelleners / Milner / RahalPorsche GT3RSR313-
19LMP2Theys / Lienhard / van de PoeleLola B05/40307Mechanical
20GT2Macari / Aucott / WilsonFerrari F430 GT305-
21LMP1Lewis / McMurry / WillmanLola EX257303-
22GT2Enge / Gidley / BergmeisterFerrari F430 GT300-
23LMP2Maassen / Briscoe / CollardPorsche RS Spyder297-
24GT2Jonsson / Krohn / BraunFerrari F430 GT290-
25GT2Kox / JanisSpyker C8286-
26GT2Hand / Auberlen / Kimber-SmithPanoz Esperante GTLM275Oil Leak
27GT2Maxwell / Sellers / SmithPanoz Esperante GTLM270-
28GT2Neiman / Law / PechnikPorsche GT3RSR268-
29GT2Da Silva / Collin / HerrmannPorsche GT3RSR252Clutch
30GT2Basseng / Pappas / BorchellerPorsche GT3RSR235Suspension
12LMP2Bach / Devlin / MatosLola B07/46 Mazda224-
24GT2Mediani / Aguas / Maria LopezFerrari F430 GT206Fire
30GT2Konopka / McCormick / CasadeiPorsche GT3RSR129Engine
25GT2Luyendyk / Robertson / RobertsonPanoz Esperante GTLM64Engine

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