The opening round of the swansong season of the American Le Mans Series is already upon us: the teams have gathered at the legendary Sebring circuit in Florida ahead of this weekend’s 12 Hours – the last of the LMP1 era. There’s a mighty battle ahead: Audi may have rocked up with a pair of R18 E-Tron Quattros, but the surprise is that Audi have only topped one of the four test sessions so far. They may be sandbagging, but Rebellion, Muscle Milk and Dyson will all be aiming squarely at the R18s, looking to take this last opportunity to take a four-ringed scalp.
It’s in GT where the heat will really be turned up: BMW have rejoined the fray with their brand new Z4 in the GTE-Pro class, where they’ll be facing off against the cream of manufacturer opposition from Corvette, Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin and Viper. The Rahal-Letterman-Lannigan team will be fielding two Z4s, and have been out testing ahead of the race: the unique deep growl of the Z4 makes it easy to pick out in the GT field. This video has some great footage of the car in action, and talks to the team’s six drivers about their new mount.
Our own Larry Chen will be embedded with the RLL team throughout the race weekend, so stay tuned for updates from him as he finds out from the inside just what it’s like to tackle the toughest race on the calendar.
Testing continues today, with practice and qualifying over Thursday and Friday. The great race kicks off at 10.45am Eastern on Saturday March 16th. Turn one has been radically changed with the extension to the pitlane required to house such a big field of cars: a solid wall now runs down the outside of the braking zone where before there were just cones, so what was already a difficult corner has just been pumped up a level. Make sure you’re somewhere where you can watch the rolling start if at all possible!