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 cars 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) – 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 cars 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 in 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.

Round six of the 2009 American Le Mans Series was conducted at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Drivers would complete for two-hours, forty-five minute on the 2.258-mile thirteen-turn road course in the Acura Sports Car Challenge.

The 2009 LMP1 podium for the Acura Sports Car Challenge at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. In the center, from de Ferran Motorsports, are Simon Pagenaud and team principal, Gil de Ferran. This was the duo’s third consecutive victory. On the left side of the rostrum are the runner-up’s, Scott Sharp and David Brabham. Completing the podium is the father and son team, Jon and Clint Field.
What a difference a year makes. The 2008 Acura Sports Car Challenge started out promising for the de Ferran Motorsports team but ended in tragedy when the car caught fire during a pit-stop and injured a crew member. Teammates, Simon Pagenaud and Gil de Ferran, were victorious in the previous three rounds. Entering Mid-Ohio with momentum behind them, they started on the pole and scored another win.
The No. 9 Patron Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-02a was driven by Scott Sharp and David Brabham. The pair won the second round at Saint Petersburg, Florida but since that race, they were unable to beat the de Ferran Motorsports Acura. It appeared that the Mid-Ohio event would follow this trend. Sharp and Brabham were gridded second for the start and finished second - 8.358-seconds behind the winning LMP1 Acura.
Until round-five at Lime Rock, the Lowe’s Fernandez Racing teammates, Luis Diaz and Adrian Fernandez were unbeatable. They entered Mid-Ohio with the LMP2 points lead as the result of victories at Sebring, St. Petersburg, Long Beach and Miller. They qualified third overall and first in class driving the No. 15 Acura ARX-01b. During the race, they were challenged by the Dyson and Cytosport teams but took the victory.
GT2 point leaders, Jorg Bergmeister and Patrick Long, made it five victories in a row at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and in the process set a new American Le Mans Series record for GT2 category wins. Although, they beat the second place Corvette by a comfortable margin (21.001-seconds) it was a challenging event. During the race, Bergmeister was hit by a Challenge car which cracked the wheel.
The 2009 LMP2 podium at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. In the center, from Lowe’s Fernandez Racing, are Luis Diaz and team principal, Adrian Fernandez. Diaz and Fernandez finished third overall giving Acura the top three spots at the event. On the left side of the rostrum are Greg Pickett and Klaus Graf, drivers of the Team Cytosport Porsche RS Spyder. Completing the podium is Butch Leitzinger and Marino Franchitti.
The biggest threat to the No. 45 Flying Lizards Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR was the Risi Competizione Ferrari F430 GT. Sharing the Ferrari were Jaime Melo and Pierre Kaffer – Melo qualified the car second quickest in GT2. Unfortunately, the Ferrari lacked the top speed of their competitors and the safety car split the class leaders during a caution period all of which contributed to the team’s poor showing – fifth in class.
The GT Challenge class was introduced in 2009 for Porsche GT3 Cup cars. This group was only invited to participate in five race weekends. The husband and wife team of Melanie and Martin Snow shared the No. 57 Snow Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. The Porsche started twenty-third overall and fourth in class. Other than an incident at the start, the Snows had a relatively clean run to first in their category.
The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and the round six-podium for the Grand Touring category. On the left side of the rostrum from Corvette Racing are the runner-up’s, Johnny O’Connell and Jan Magnussen. To the right and completing the podium are Tommy Milner and Dirk Mueller, half of the BMW Rahal Letterman Racing team. In the center for the fifth time in 2009 are the Flying Lizards’, Patrick Long and Jorg Bergmeister.
At Mid-Ohio, Corvette Racing debut their new GT2 spec Chevrolet Corvettes. After years of competing in the GT1 category, the team decided to showcase their car in the more competitive GT2 class. Quicker of the two entries was the No. 3 Corvette C6.R shared by Jan Magnussen and Johnny O’Connell. Magnussen was third quickest in qualifying. In the race, they took the runner-up spot in GT2 with their teammates finishing fourth.
Greg Pickett and Klaus Graf made their 2009 debut at Mid-Ohio. Competing in the No. 6 Porsche RS Spyder they were fast from the very first session and qualified fourth quickest in LMP2. During the race, an unlucky positioning of the pace car during the final full-course caution cost them a lap to the class winning Acura. Despite this setback, Pickett and Graf finished in second in their category by just 10.482-seconds.
Former LMP competitor, Guy Cosmo shared the Orbit Racing prepared Porsche 911 GT3 Cup with John Baker. Cosmo performed the qualifying duties and put the Porsche on the GT Challenge pole – seventeenth overall. Problems during the event prevented Cosmo and Baker from challenging the race winning Snow entry. They finished in the runner-up position two-laps behind the class winners.
BMW Rahal Letterman Racing entered two BMW M3s in the GT2 category. The No. 92 BMW was raced by Dirk Mueller and Tommy Milner. Starting from the twelfth spot on the grid (fourth in GT2) both drivers had a terrific battle for position. During the first stint, Milner fought with the Risi Ferrari for fourth place and Mueller got the upper hand on Olivier Beretta to grab the final spot on the GT2 podium.
Dyson racing entered two Lola B09/86. The No. 16 Lola was shared by Chris Dyson and Guy Smith. After an early stop, they were on a different pit strategy than the other teams. Now at the rear of the field, Dyson carved his way through the pack. His co-driver, Smith was second in LMP2 when the turbocharger failed on lap-62. It appeared that their teammates were going to win until the suspension failed.
The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and the round-three podium for the Grand Touring Challenge class. On the left side of the rostrum from Orbit Racing are the runner-up’s, Guy Cosmo and John Baker. To the right and completing the podium are the winners from previous round at Lime Rock, Bob Faieta and Wesley Hoaglund. In the center for the second time in 2009 are the husband and wife team of Martin and Melanie Snow.

1LMP1de Ferran / PagenaudAcura ARX-02a118-
2LMP1Sharp / BrabhamAcura ARX-02a118-
3LMP2Fernandez / DiazAcura ARX-01b116-
4LMP2Graf / PickettPorsche RS Spyder116-
5LMP1Field / FieldLola B06/10 AER115-
6LMP1Mowlem / JohanssonGinetta-Zytek 09HS114-
7GT2Bergmeister / LongPorsche GT3 RSR108-
8GT2O'Connell / MagnussenChevrolet Corvette C6.R108-
9GT2Milner / MullerBMW M3107-
10GT2Gavin / BerettaChevrolet Corvette C6.R107-
11GT2Melo / KafferFerrari F430 GTC107-
12GT2Henzler / RaggingerPorsche GT3 RSR107-
13GT2James / FarnbacherPanoz Esperante GTLM107-
14GT2Auberlen / HandBMW M3106-
15GT2Neiman / LawPorsche GT3 RSR104-
16GT2Murry / Robertson / RobertsonFord GT-R102-
17LMP2Franchitti / LeitzingerLola B08/86 Mazda100-
18GTCSnow / SnowPorsche GT3 Cup100-
19GTCBaker / CosmoPorsche GT3 Cup98-
20GTCHoaglund / FaietaPorsche GT3 Cup98-
21GTCLewis / VentoPorsche GT3 Cup96-
22LMP2van der Steur / PecorariRadical SR9 AER80-
23GTCParker / PickeringPorsche GT3 Cup77Not Running
24UNCDyson / SmithLola B09/86 Mazda62Mechanical
25LMP1Willman / DrissiLola B06/10 AER40Transmission
26GTCBrown / SweedlerPorsche GT3 Cup0Accident

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