2009 was the eleventh season of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). Initially, the ALMS classes and rules were the aligned with those used by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest at the 24 Hour of Le Mans. Beginning in 2009, changes were made to the classes participating in the series. There were five categories 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 vehicles can weigh no less than 924-kilograms (approximately 2,040-pounds). Teams enter cars such as the Lola B06/10, Acura ARX 02a and Ginetta Zytek GZ09HS. Also competing in the series at selected events are the factory supported diesel-powered Audi R15 TDI and Peugeot 908 HDI FAP. These cars are 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 vehicles which could weigh no less than 675-kilograms. In 2004, this class was renamed LMP2 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 Lola and Acura. LMP2 vehicles use smaller engines producing between 500-550 horsepower.
  • Grand Touring 1 (GT1) – 2009 would be the last year for the GT1 category. This class includes production-based vehicles such as the Chevrolet Corvette C6.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 and can weigh no less than 1,125-kilograms (approximately 2,480-pounds).
  • Grand Touring 2 (GT2) – The GT2 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 BMW M3, Porsche GT3 RSR, Panoz Esperante GT-LM, Ford GT-R, Dodge Viper Competition Coupe, Chevrolet Corvette C6.R and Ferrari F430 GT.
  • Grand Touring Challenge (GTC) – The GTC class is new for 2009 and these teams will only be invited to compete at certain events. This category is a spec class for Porsche GT3 Cup cars.

The 2009 ALMS schedule included ten North American events. The season kicked off with the 57th edition of 12 Hours of Sebring. After Sebring, the series competed on temporary street circuits at St. Petersburg, Florida and Long Beach, California. The opening rounds were followed by races at Miller Motorsports Park, Lime Rock Park, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Road America and Mosport Park. The season concluded with Petit Le Mans held at Road Atlanta and the finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

The final round of the 2009 American Le Mans Series took place at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The race was four hours in length on the eleven-turn 2.238-mile road course.

The American Le Mans Series field heads into Laguna Seca’s turn two on the first lap of the 2009 season finale. Leading the way is the pole-winning de Ferran Motorsports Acura ARX-02a driven by Simon Pagenaud. The first car behind Pagenaud is another Acura ARX-02a entered by Patron Highcroft Racing and piloted by David Brabham. Thirty-two cars started the contest and twenty-four were running at the finish.
This was Gil de Ferran`s final race and he took the opportunity to pay tribute to Jim Hall and the Chaparral team. De Ferran was in the seat for qualifying and grabbed the pole position by 0.092-seconds. His co-driver, Simon Pagenaud started the race and led the field. In the final hour of the contest, de Ferran trailed the leader, Adrian Fernandez but was able to pass him and win by a margin of 0.662-seconds.
At Laguna Seca, Patrick Long and Jorg Bergmeister were on a mission to win the GT2 championship. Their task was quite simple - just finish in points. Bergmeister performed the qualifying duties and was fifth quickest in a very tight field. The two drivers were in contention for the victory when their main rivals for the title retired in hour two. Despite taking the championship, Bergmeister battled with Jan Magnussen for the win.
Despite securing the LMP2 title at Mosport the Lowe`s Fernandez Racing team would not be back for the 2010 season. That did not deter the drivers as Luis Diaz briefly held the pole-position during qualifying. By the end of the session, Diaz was third overall and first in class. In the final hour of the race, Adrian Fernandez fought with Gil de Ferran for the overall victory but could not hold off the LMP1 entry and finished second.
Qualifying quickest in the GT Challenge category was Guy Cosmo driving the Orbit Racing-prepared Porsche GT3 Cup. Sharing the Porsche with Cosmo was John Baker. At the conclusion of four-hours of competition, Mitchell Pagerey and Shane Lewis were the first Challenge class car to receive the checkered flag. However, they and the Gruppe Orange team were excluded giving the victory to Cosmo and Baker.
The Patron Highcroft team arrived at Laguna Seca after an eventful weekend at Petit Le Mans where Scott Sharp had a massive accident in practice. It appeared that the new chassis was sorted as David Brabham qualified second overall. In the race, Brabham chased the de Ferran Acura but surrendered second with a faulty sensor. Sharp drove the final stint and while the car still encountered issues, the drivers took the LMP1 title.
The first lap of the race and the two Corvettes have sprinted ahead while the remainder of the GT2 field heads into Laguna Seca’s turn two. Leading this group is one of the title contenders – the Risi Competizione Ferrari F430 GT. Tucked in behind the Ferrari is the Farnbacher-Loles Porsche shared by Wolf Henzler and Pierre Ehret. The point’s leaders from Flying Lizard Motorsports enter the corner in third place.
Risi drivers, Jaime Melo and Pierre Kaffer, entered Laguna second in the GT2 standings. It would be difficult to win the championship as they would have to finish first or second while the class leaders would have to fail to score any points. Pierre Kaffer handled the qualifying duties and missed the pole by 0.17-seconds. Unfortunately, their title hopes ended in the second hour of the race after contact with a slower GT car.
The No. 02 GT Challenge Porsche shared by Nick Parker and Don Pickering was the slowest car in the field – starting thirty-first overall and eighth in class. Excellent driving and the team’s race strategy allowed the pair to move through the field. And, when the Snow entry retired and the Velox Motorsports and Gruppe Orange Porsches were disqualified, they were the beneficiaries of a runner-up finish.
At Laguna Seca, Jan Magnussen scored Corvette’s first GT2 pole-position. During the race, Magnussen and his teammate, Johnny O’Connell were in contention for the victory. Magnussen drove the final stint and reeled in the class leader, Jorg Bergmeister. The two traded the lead in the final hour and heavy contact between the two on the last lap sent Magnussen hard into the concrete wall. He still managed a second place finish.
Almost going unnoticed was the GT2 Farnbacher-Loles Motorsport entry shared by Pierre Ehret and Wolf Henzler. The No. 87 Porsche GT3 RSR was gridded thirteenth overall and fourth in GT2 for the start of the race. A steady performance and the problems for the No. 4 Corvette and Risi Competizione Ferrari allowed Ehret and Henzler to capture the final position on the podium.
The No. 16 Dyson Racing Lola B09/86 driven by Chris Dyson, Guy Edwards and Ben Devlin was the only entry competing in the Unclassified category. Unlike the other cars in the field, the Mazda powered Lola was fueled by biobutanol. The advantage of biobutanol is the engine runs cooler which improves the reliability of the motor. The trio started at the rear of the grid in thirtieth and finished fourteenth overall.
Sharing the Autocon Motorsports prepared Lola B06/10 were Tony Burgess, Bryan Willman and Chris McMurray. The Autocon Lola also suffered damage at Petit Le Man and the crew spent much of practice making repairs. In qualifying, the team was sixth fastest in LMP1 and would start ninth overall. Despite finishing nine-laps behind the winner, the group recorded their best finish of the season – third in LMP1 and fourth overall.
The Corvette Racing entry driven by Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta started third in the GT2 class - thanks to Gavin. At the start, the two Corvette C6.Rs led the category but in the first hour, Gavin was involved in an incident with the Muller/Milner BMW M3. The C6.R suffered damage to the bodywork. The car was repaired but fell further behind when there was contact with the Dyson Lola. The duo finished tenth in class.
Staring twenty-fifth overall and third in the GT Challenge category were Robert Rodriquez and Galen Bieker in the No. 69 P7 Racing prepared Porsche GT3 Cup. They also benefitted from the exclusion of the Gruppe Orange and Velox Motorsports Porsches and the retirement of the Snow entry to capture the final spot on the class rostrum.

1LMP1de Ferran / PagenaudAcura ARX-02a168-
2LMP2Fernandez / DiazAcura ARX-01b168-
3LMP1Sharp / BrabhamAcura ARX-02a164-
4LMP1Willman / McMurry / BurgessLola B06/10 AER159-
5LMP1Mowlem / JohanssonGinetta-Zytek 09HS158-
6GT2Bergmeister / LongPorsche GT3 RSR155-
7GT2O'Connell / MagnussenChevrolet Corvette C6.R155-
8GT2Henzler / EhretPorsche GT3 RSR154-
9GT2James / FarnbacherPanoz Esperante GTLM154-
10GT2Neiman / LawPorsche GT3 RSR153-
11GT2Milner / MullerBMW M3153-
12GT2Stuck / WestbrookPorsche GT3 RSR153-
13GT2Sellers / Cicero IIPorsche GT3 RSR150-
14UNCDyson / Smith / DevlinLola B09/86 Mazda150-
15GT2Sutherland / Drissi / GigliottiChevrolet Corvette C6.R150-
16GTCBaker / CosmoPorsche GT3 Cup144-
17GT2Gavin / BerettaChevrolet Corvette C6.R143-
18GTCParker / PickeringPorsche GT3 Cup140-
19GTCBieker / RodriguezPorsche GT3 Cup140-
20GT2Murry / Robertson / RobertsonFord GT-R139-
26GTCBrown / SweedlerPorsche GT3 Cup138-
5LMP1Field / FieldLola B06/10 AER125Mechanical
4LMP2Graf / PickettPorsche RS Spyder124Mechanical
20GTCCurtis / SofonasPorsche GT3 Cup89-
18GTCSnow / SnowPorsche GT3 Cup52Engine
11GT2Melo / KafferFerrari F430 GTC49Mechanical
11GT2Goossens / GentilozziJaguar XKR46Mechanical
17LMP2Franchitti / LeitzingerLola B09/86 Mazda31Mechanical
14GT2Auberlen / HandBMW M33Mechanical
17LMP1Dryson / CrockerLola B09/60 Mazda2Accident
21GTCLewis / PagereyPorsche GT3 Cup0Disqualified
20GTCHoaglund / FaietaPorsche GT3 Cup0Disqualified
22LMP1Noda / Wagner / KonstantRadical SR90Did Not Start

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