Event>>alms 2009 Winter Test, Sebring

You may have seen my post earlier in the week where we introduced you to the new Acura ARX-02a American Le Mans Series, which made its debut at the ALMS Winter Test in Sebring.

The test took place earlier this week, and Marshall Pruett has kindly allowed us to show some of his images, showcasing some of the new machines.

Rahal Letterman brought their new 'works' BMW M3 E92 GT2 race car. Its the first time people have been able to get close to it and you can tell BMW mean business.

This is the first of the 2009 race chassis and the test concentrated on reliability and basic set-ups.

Interesting lay out under the hood with the engine mounted towards the rear and low down, allowing for radiators and ducting to fill the space.

BMW return to the ALMS after a two year absence. Rahal Letterman Racing have a long history in open wheel racing in North America, but they are one of the most professional teams out there.

More images over at SpeedTV.com

Not to be out-done in GT2, current champions, Porsche have released a new improved 997 GT3 RSR for the 2009 season.

The new car is a little different visually with new air outlets in the hood, revised bumpers, rear wing and lower ride-height. Flying Lizard Racing and Farnbacher Loles were the only teams testing the new car.

However, all eyes were on the new Acura ARX-02a LMP1 car. The new Acura had been caught testing before Christmas in an unpainted Carbon black finish. Photos appeared on Muslanne's Corner and Daily Sportscar and it was immediately apparent this was something special.

The official debut did not disappoint, with two LMP1 entries for Patron Highcroft Racing and de Ferran Motorsports in attendance. The new car was developed by Nick Wirth (remember Simtek F1?) and his team in the UK, along with Honda Performance Development in the States. 

Powered by a new 4 litre engine, the most noticeable features are the single seater style front end with multiple dive planes and the unusual rear wing mount.

The swan-neck style mount allows the underside of the rear wing to be more efficient. The larger cross-section required for this style of mount is a small price to pay.

Looking closer, the car is designed to use rear tyres on all four corners for improved grip!

The frontal surface area is slightly larger to compensate, but the large dive planes suggest they have it covered.

Its a beautifully detailed machine, and the Patron car looks particularly striking. More image, with lots of detail, are available here

Unsurprisingly, Acura were fastest at the test. de Ferran Motorsport's Scott Dixon set the fastest time on the final day of the test. Dario Franchitti was second in the Highcroft machine. First time either driver had driven the new car.

Finally, as its Mazda month, we had to mention the first public running by Dyson Racing of the Lola Mazda Coupe. This chassis is the car which BK-Motorsport used at the end of last season, before the team closed down.

Having ditched the expensive Porsche RS Spyders, Dyson will run two cars in a Mazda BP livery.

The ALMS Season begins on March 21st with the 12hrs of Sebring. This will also see the debut of the all-new Audi R15 LMP1 race car.

Marshall has lots more photos from the test, including more technical shots over at the Speed TV photo albums. See below for the individual album links.

-Andy Blackmore

Images: Marshall Pruett/, Highcroft Racing, Dyson Racing, American Le Mans Series.

Speed TV ALMS  Winter Test Galleries:-

BMW M3 E92 GT2

Acura ARX-02a LMP1

General Test images Album 1 and Album 2