2009 was the eleventh season of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). Initially, the ALMS classes and rules were 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 Motorsport Park, Lime Rock Park, Mid-Ohio, Road America and Mosport Park. The season concluded with Petit Le Mans held at Road Atlanta and the finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Sebring would be the opening round of the 2009 American Le Mans Series. For the fifty-seventh time, drivers would compete for twelve-hours around the seventeen-turn 3.74-mile road course. Of note, this would be the 100th race for the American Le Mans Series.

The Prototype categories have already received the Starter’s flag and now the second wave of GT competitors begin the 57th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. On the front row are the only two GT1 entries in the field – Corvette Racing’s Chevrolet Corvette C6.Rs. Capturing the pole was Oliver Gavin in the No. 4 Corvette. Following the Corvettes are the top GT2 qualifiers Dirk Werner and Jorg Bergmeister in Porsches.
After tests in Spain and Italy, it was finally time for the Audi R15 TDI to make its racing debut. Audi Sport North America entered the No. 2 Audi driven by Allan McNish, Rinaldo Capello and Tom Kristensen. McNish started the race in second place and shot into the lead. Throughout the twelve-hours, the trio traded the lead with the No. 8 Peugeot 908 HDI FAP. In the final hour, the team had the advantage and won by a margin of 22.279-seconds.
With only two GT1 entries – both from Corvette Racing it was going to be an intermural battle for twelve hours. Winning the pole for the No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C6.R was Oliver Gavin. Sharing the Corvette with Gavin were Olivier Beretta and newcomer, Marcel Fassler. Despite a spin early in the race, they remained in contact with their teammates. At the checkered flag, the trio grabbed the runner-up spot – one lap behind the other Corvette.
Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz would share the Lowe’s Fernandez Racing Acura ARX-01b. They had the LMP2 field covered – only three cars were entered. In qualifying, Dias drove the car and put it on the class pole – 1.848-seconds quicker than the fastest Dyson entry. During the race, they drove away from their competition and by the third hour had a two-lap on the second place LMP2 entry. At the checker, the duo won the class by 211-laps.
The No. 66 de Ferran Motorsports Acura ARX-02a started on the overall and LMP1 pole thanks to Scott Dixon. Dixon was quickest early in the session but then displaced by the diesels. He went back out at the end of qualifying and recorded the fastest time on the last lap. Sharing the Acura with Dixon were Gil de Ferran and Simon Pagenaud. Suspension issues and a fuel leak contributed to an eighteenth-place finish for the team.
Mika Salo was fourth quickest in the Risi Competizione Ferrari F430 GT. However, the team would be forced to start from the rear of the grid because his teammate, Jaime Melo was not at the track. Also, sharing the car with Salo and Melo was Pierre Kaffer. Despite this penalty, the trio was in the class lead by the end of the first hour and continued to set a torrid pace. In the very competitive GT2 category, they won by an unimaginable two-laps.
Starting fifteenth overall and third in GT2 was the Advanced Engineering Pecom Racing Team Ferrari F430 GT. Driving the No. 95 Ferrari in the twelve-hour event was Luis Companc, Mathias Russo and Gianmaria Bruni. Early in the event, the trio as the only team that could match the pace of the Risi Ferrari but they too fell out of contention and finished in the runner-up spot – two-laps behind the winners.
The No. 08 Peugeot 908 HDI FAP was driven by Franck Montagny, Stephane Sarrazin and Sebastien Bourdais qualified fifth quickest but started from the pit lane. This was caused by a hydraulic problem. Once on track, the drivers carved their way through the field and by the fourth hour they were in the lead. From that point on they traded first place with the Audi but were in second at the checker.
Benefitting from the misfortune of their competition was Dominik Farnbacher and Ian James. The duo drove the No. 21 Panoz Team PTG Panoz Esperante GTLM and were gridded seventeenth overall and fifth in GT2 for the start. Issues for the Flying Lizard and Farnbacher Loles teams allowed James and Farnbacher to move up the race order. A consistent pace and an excellent race strategy allowed the team to grab third place.
The Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R15 TDI was driven by Lucas Luhr, Mike Rockenfeller and three-time Sebring winner, Marco Werner. Qualifying the Audi was the responsibility of Rockenfeller who was fourth quickest. The trio was in contention for the victory until the final hours of the event when teams cycled through their pit-stops. The No. 1 Audi lost two-laps to the winning Audi and second place Peugeot – they finished third.
Dyson Racing entered two Lola B09/86 both which would not finish this year’s twelve-hour event. The No. 16 Lola was driven by Chris Dyson, Guy Smith and Andy Lally. They started second in the LMP2 category but were quite a bit slower than the Fernandez Acura. The second car shared by Butch Leitzinger, Marino Franchitti and Ben Devlin qualified third in class. Unfortunately, both Lolas retired before the half-point of the race.
The Porsches paced the field during the GT2 qualifying session. Quickest was Dirk Werner in the Farnbacher Loles Motorsports Porsche GT3RSR. Sharing the Porsche with Werner were Wolf Henzler and Richard Lietz. Werner led for most of the first hour but was no match for the hard-charging Risi Competizione Ferrari. In the second hour, the car had an extended pit-stop and the team fell out of contention.
Winning the GT1 category was the No. 3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C6.R raced by Johnny O’Connell, Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia. While the No. 4 Corvette focused on winning the pole the O’Connell / Magnussen / Garcia crew put their efforts into the race setup. Their strategy paid off as O’Connell and Magnussen took their third consecutive victory and Garcia got his first Sebring win.
Jorg Bergmeister, driving the No. 45 Flying Lizards Motorsports Porsche GT3RSR qualified on the outside of the GT2 front row. Sharing the Porsche with Bergmeister were Patrick Long and Marc Lieb. The team’s chance for a class victory ended early when there was contact with the Robertson Ford GT. Repairs were made to the rear suspension and they finished fourth in GT2 and eleventh overall.

1LMP1McNish / Capello / KristensenAudi R15 TDI383-
2LMP1Montagny / Sarrazin / BourdaisPeugeot 908 HDi FAP383-
3LMP1Werner / Luhr / RockenfellerAudi R15 TDI381-
4LMP2Fernandez / DiazAcura ARX-01b360-
5LMP1Lamy / Minassian / KlienPeugeot 908 HDi FAP356Mechanical
6GT2O'Connell / Magnussen / GarciaChevrolet Corvette C6.R349-
7GT2Gavin / Beretta / FasslerChevrolet Corvette C6.R348-
8GT2Melo / Kaffer / SaloFerrari F430 GTC332-
9GT2Bruni / Russo / Perez CompancFerrari F430 GTC330-
10GT2James / FarnbacherPanoz Esperante GTLM329-
11GT2Bergmeister / Long / LiebPorsche GT3RSR326-
12GT2Neiman / Law / Van OverbeekPorsche GT3RSR326-
13GT2Krohn / Jonsson / van de PoeleFerrari F430 GTC325-
14GT2Murry / Robertson / RobertsonFord GT-R303-
15LMP1Sharp / Brabham / FranchittiAcura ARX-02a302Mechanical
16GT2Henzler / Werner / LietzPorsche GT3RSR274-
17GT2Feinberg / Hall / HoltDodge Viper Competition Coupe251Mechanical
18LMP1de Ferran / Dixon / PagenaudAcura ARX-02a246Mechanical
19GT2Cocker / Bell / DraysonAston Martin Vantage GT2204Engine
20LMP1Willman / Burgess / McMurryLola B06/10151Electrical
21LMP2Franchitti / Leitzinger / DevlinLola B09/86 Mazda149Mechanical
22GT2Milner / MuellerBMW M3140Mechanical
23LMP2Dyson / Smith / LallyLola B09/86 Mazda127Mechanical
24GT2Gigliotti / Molo / CurranChevrolet Corvette C6.R89Mechanical
25LMP1Field / Field / DucoteLola B06/10 AER77Mechanical
26GT2Auberlen / HandBMW M327Mechnical
DNSGT2Stuck / Stuck / PastorelliPorsche GT3RSR0Did Not Start

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