2008 was the tenth 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.

  • 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 factory supported diesel-powered Audi R10. Privateer teams were entered in cars such as the Lola B06/10 and Creation CA07. These machines were powered by a wide range of engines producing between 600-700 horsepower.
  • Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) – The LMP675 class was introduced in 2001 for cars 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 were written so that the two LMP classes (LMP1 and LMP2) would be contending for the overall win. Manufacturers producing cars for this class included the Lola, Acura, Zytek and Porsche. LMP2 cars used smaller engines producing between 500-550 horsepower.
  • Grand Touring 1 (GT1) – This class included production-based vehicles such as the Chevrolet Corvette C6.R and Aston Martin DBR9. The cars were permitted to use 8.0-liter normally aspirated or 4.0-liter turbocharged engines which produced between 600-650 horsepower. These cars could weigh no less than 1,125-kilograms (approximately 2,480-pounds).
  • Grand Touring 2 (GT2) – The GT2s 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 Aston Martin DBRS9, Porsche GT3 RSR, Panoz Esperante GT-LM, Ford GT-R, Dodge Viper Competition Coupe and Ferrari F430 GT.

The 2008 ALMS schedule included eleven North American events. The season kicked off with the 56th edition of 12 Hours of Sebring. It was followed by a temporary street circuit at St. Petersburg, Florida. In addition to St. Pete, the series was also competing at Long Beach, Miller Motorsports Park and Lime Rock Park. The remaining events were held at Mid-Ohio, Road America, Mosport, Detroit (Belle Isle), Road Atlanta and the season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

The most historic race on the American Le Mans Series schedule opened the season. The fifty-sixth running of the 12-Hours of Sebring took place in mid-March on the 3.74-mile seventeen-turn road course at Sebring International Raceway.

Qualifying for the 12-Hours of Sebring took an interesting turn. Eight minutes into the Prototype qualifying, Ben Devlin driving the B-K Motorsports Lola B07/46 had a big accident in turn one bringing an end to the session. IMSA qualifying rules state that if one of the sessions runs for less than 10-minutes the times from both sessions (Prototype and Grand Touring) are discounted. As a result, the grid was set by practice times which meant there were winners and losers.

The field for the fifty-sixth running of the 12-Hours of Sebring enters the front straight in anticipation of the Starter’s flag. On the front row is the No. 1 Audi Sport North America Audi R10 driven by Rinaldo Capello. Sharing the front row with Capello is Nicolas Minassian in the Peugeot 908 entered by Peugeot Sport Total. Thirty-five cars were registered for the event, thirty-three started and twenty were classified as finishers.
It was a perfect event for the No. 7 Penske Racing Porsche RS Spyder. The drivers, Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Emmanuel Collard, started first in LMP2. They took control of the contest in the final hour and scored a 62.084-second margin of victory. The team’s Sebring 12-Hour success ended Audi’s eight-race winning streak and was also the first overall victory for the Porsche brand since 1988.
One of the winners of the IMSA qualifying rule was the No. 1 Audi R10 driven by Allan McNish, Rinaldo Capello and Tom Kristensen. McNish was second fastest in qualifying but the rule put the team on the overall pole. For the first three hours of the race, they trailed the quicker Peugeot; after it retired the trio traded the lead with their teammates in the No. 2 Audi. When the second Audi had troubles, they captured the LMP1 victory.
Only three teams participated in the GT1 category – the two factory Corvettes and a privateer Aston Martin. Scoring the class victory was the new Chevrolet Corvette C6.R shared by Ron Fellows, Jan Magnussen and Johnny O’Connell – O’Connell, at seven, was now the winningest driver in Sebring history. It was a relatively easy run for the trio as the Aston Martin could not maintain the pace and the second Corvette had driveline issues.
Jorg Bergmeister was looking for redemption after his banging match with Jaime Melo cost him the GT2 victory. This year, Bergmeister was sharing the No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR with Wolf Henzler and Marc Lieb. The trio started the race third in GT2 and inherited the class lead when the Risi Competizione Ferrari and Farnbacher-Loles Porsche made contact. From there, it was ‘clear sailing’ to the win.
If the No. 1 Audi was the winner of the IMSA qualifying rule, then the Peugeot team was the loser. Stephane Sarrazin was the fastest in qualifying but only second quick in practice. That seemed to be of little consequence as his co-driver, Nicolas Minassian jumped into the lead. Unfortunately, the Peugeot 908 developed a transmissions issue and fell out of contention. Sarrazin, Minassian and Pedro Lamy finished fourth in class.
The GT1 category was a two-horse race between the two factory Corvettes. Sharing the No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C6.R was Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Max Papis. The team started second in GT1 - Gavin was just 0.389-seconds slower than Jan Magnussen. Their chance for victory ended in the second hour when the Corvette required a half-shaft repair. The problem was fixed and they returned to finish second in class.
A beneficiary of the Risi Competizione / Franbacher-Loles incident was the No. 44 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR guided by Darren Law, Alex Davison and Seth Neiman. The trio was the slowest of the three Flying Lizard Motorsports entries but a clean race allowed them to move up the order. Unable to maintain the pace of their teammates, Bergmeister, Henzler and Lieb, they finished second in GT2 albeit two-laps behind the winners.
Jaime Melo was the quickest GT2 competitor during the qualifying session. Sharing the Risi Competizione Ferrari 430 GTC with Melo was Mika Salo and Giamaria Bruni. The team was dominating the race until the sixth hour when Melo made contact with the Farnbacher-Loles Porsche 911 GT3 RSR driven by Dirk Werner. The impact damaged both cars – leaving them stranded on the circuit.
The No. 20 Dyson Racing Porsche RS Spyder inherited second in LMP2 and overall when the Lowes Fernandez Acura was disqualified for failing the ‘stall test’ during the post-race technical inspection. Sharing the driving were Marino Franchitti, Andy Lally and sports car veteran, Butch Leitzinger. Other than a mechanical issue early in the race, it was a clean outing for the three drivers.
After the Peugeot encountered transmission problems and fell out of contention the LMP1 race was between the two Audis. Driving the No. 2 Audi R10 were Lucas Luhr, Mike Rockenfeller and Marco Werner. The two Audi teams traded the LMP1 class lead until the tenth hour when Rockenfeller went off course and damaged the car. Repairs were made and they finished second in their category, 18-laps behind the winning Audi.
While one of the Penske Racing Porsche RS Spyders enjoyed the victory, the other entry could be found at the opposite end of the result sheet. The Porsche driven by Patrick Long, Sascha Maassen and Ryan Briscoe was gridded second in LMP2 for the start. Within the first stint, the car is in and out of the pits and eventually returned to the paddock. In the fourth hour, the car is retired after completing only twenty-nine-laps.
The Krohn Racing/Risi Competizione Ferrari F430 GT was raced by Nic Jonsson, Eric van de Poele and team principal, Tracy Krohn. Krohn performed the qualifying duties and put the Ferrari thirteen on the GT2 grid – 6.387-seconds slower than the class pole-sitter and his teammate, Jaime Melo. In the ‘long run,’ the lowly qualifying position didn’t matter as the trio were rewarded with a third in GT2 for running a clean race.
The best of the LMP1 privateer teams was Intersport Racing. Drivers, Richard Berry, Jon Field and his son, Clint would drive the No. 37 Lola B06/10 AER and start the 12-hour race fourth in class and ninth overall. The trio had a relatively trouble-free event and benefitted from the problems for the Peugeot Sport Total team. At the checkered flag, the trio was ten overall and grabbed the last position on the class podium.
The third GT1 entry was the Bell Motorsports Aston Martin DBR.9. The Aston Martin would never be a threat to the Corvettes. It was a 2006 version that would eventually be fitted with the latest updates. In its current form, the car was almost 4-seconds a lap slower than the Corvettes. Drivers, Terry Borcheller, Chapman Ducote and Antonia Garcia, did the best that could be expected and finished 29-laps behind the class winner.
Dyson Racing’s primary car was driven by Chris Dyson and Guy Smith. Dyson started the race from the tenth position on the grid – sixth in LMP2. Midway through the race, the pair enjoyed a stint as the overall leaders. In the final hour, their Porsche RS Spyder fell off the pace and they finished fourth in class one lap behind the race leaders. The disqualification of the Lowes Fernandez Acura gave them the final spot on the LMP2 podium.
The first major incident of the race occurred when Dindo Capello attempted to lap the No. 46 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche, driven by Johannes van Overbeek. Capello’s Audi hit the Porsche causing it to make contact with the turn three tire barrier. Van Overbeek was able to return to the pits and the crew repaired the right-rear damage. Van Overbeek and his teammates, Patrick Pilet and Richard Lietz, finished eighth in GT2.

1LMP2Bernhard / Dumas / CollardPorsche RS Spyder351-
2LMP2Leitzinger / Franchitti / LallyPorsche RS Spyder351-
3LMP1McNish / Kristensen / CapelloAudi R10 TDI351-
4LMP2Dyson / SmithPorsche RS Spyder350-
5LMP2Sharp / Brabham / JohanssonAcura ARX-01b349-
6LMP1Werner / Luhr / RockenfellerAudi R10 TDI333-
7LMP2Lienhard / Theys / LammersPorsche RS Spyder333-
8GT1O'Connell / Magnussen / FellowsChevrolet Corvette C6.R328-
9LMP1Field / Berry / FieldLola B06/10 AER327-
10GT1Beretta / Gavin / PapisChevrolet Corvette C6.R320-
11LMP1Minassian / Sarrazin / KlienPeugeot 908 HDi FAP318-
12GT2Bergmeister / Henzler / LiebPorsche GT3RSR314-
13GT2Law / Davison / NeimanPorsche GT3RSR311-
14GT2Jonsson / Krohn / van de PoeleFerrari F430 GT308-
15GT2Ehret / Tafel / SimonsenFerrari F430 GT305-
16GT1Garcia / Borcheller / DucoteAston Martin DBR.9299-
17GT2Feinberg / HallDodge Viper Competition Coupe295-
18LMP2Herta / Fittipaldi / AndrettiAcura ARX-01b287Mechanical
19GT2Stanton / Alzen / SwartzbaughPorsche GT3RSR286-
20GT2Muller / Farnbacher / BellFerrari F430 GT280-
21GT2Pilet / Van Overbeek / LietzPorsche GT3RSR280-
22LMP1McMurry / Burgess / WillmanCreation CA07250Mechanical
23GT2Milner / Hand / SutherlandPanoz Esperante GTLM Ford200Mechanical
24GT2Murry / Robertson / RobertsonFord GT-R186Accident
25GT2Konopka / Casadei / HornakPorsche GT3RSR173Mechanical
26GT2Melo / Salo / BruniFerrari F430 GT137Accident
27GT2Werner / Miller / BassengPorsche GT3RSR136Accident
28GT2Peterson / Gigliotti / GoossensChevrolet Corvette C.699Mechanical
29LMP2Vergers / Ravier / BaraziZytek 07S88Accident
30GT2Cocker / Sugden / DraysonAston Martin DBRS970Accident
31LMP2Briscoe / Maassen / LongPorsche RS Spyder29Mechanical
32LMP2Fernandez / DiazAcura ARX-01b0Disqualified
33LMP2Devlin / Bonilla / MatosLola B07/460Disqualified
34GT2Jeannette / Mowlem / KellenersFerrari F430 GT0Did Not Start

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