As we now approach the ALMS race at Lime Rock, the discussion has finally started on revamping the current class system to just two classes. Since the departure of the Le Mans big shots Audi this season and the death of Porsche in the LMP2 class, the racing has been junk. We have witnessed one car dominate each of the classes except GT2. Acura has a firm grip on the LMP1 and LMP2 series because they are the only car really taking part. The kicker to that point is Acura not even showing up for Le Mans! So they are clearly pretenders and that is not to mention the unforgivable things Audi and Peugeot did to the Japanese outfit at Sebring early this year. So with this once awesome series limited down to nothing more than a procession, what is one to do? Shake up the class system and have only two classes of course.
Scott Atherton spoke with Autosport on the situation and had this to say: “We’ve been working on our 2010 plans for months, and we have several different options that take into account different circumstances,” said Atherton. “It’s a case of if this happens, we do this, and if that happens, we do that. We at the ALMS have been outspoken in our interest in that, but we understand why there are two classes,” Atherton said. “At the Le Mans 24 Hours it makes perfect sense.”
The plan calls for the prototype series to be mixed together as well as the GT classes. This makes perfect since for the GT class as most GT1 teams have pulled out and Corvette have moved to the GT2 class for next season. The only flaw in the plan comes when we blend the two prototypes. The LMP2 class is still a hotly contested class in Europe and especially the 24 Hours of Le Mans. So the loss of that class in America would mean no significant U.S. presence come next year’s 24. Teams could opt to pull an Audi and really only run the 24, but we saw how well that worked. In order to be truly competitive, you will need to run a few races before the grand daddy. However, with Acura and Mazda really only fighting each other in class, is it really that big of a loss? The battle has been pretty one sided as of late in favor of Acura. Time will tell if this is the direction the series go for the 2010 season.
I say blend! To be honest I don’t watch the 24 to see a significant American presence in LMP2. So if you want to destroy that class in the states than just go for it. While I will admit that the ALMS has probably been one of the hardest hit series as far as economic downturn that had nothing to do with an already subpar GT1 class. Watching the #63 and #64 Corvettes take it to each other is as fun as watching paint dry. With that being the only team left in the GT1 class, it was nice to see common sense prevailed and they just folded up shop. This will make the GT2 class the class to watch next year just as it is this season. You will now have Ferrari, Porsche, BMW, and Chevrolet all with a legitimate chance of winning the championship. We will have to wait and see where the series decides to go, but I am here to state that a two class system is the only way I think this series stays afloat.
2 Thoughts to “Le Mans – 2010 Class Shift?”
Roger Penske confirmed on Wind Tunnel this last week that Porsche is not making a return to ALMS/LMS in 2010 with a P1 or P2 effort. ALMS better hope that Audi wants to run in the US…..
GT2 will be fine, but the prototype class is going to suffer again next year. ALMS’s plans to go to a 2 class system are more brought on by the economic realities than by any desire to change the series.
Personally, I would prefer if they went to a 2 tier system. I would also prefer them to get rid of driver changes on their 2 and 3 hour races.
As much as it pains me to say it, there does need to be only two classes. 2008 offered a fantastic and exciting ALMS season, but this year’s season has been …well… damn near non-existent. The teams that made the series great in 2008 and before are now gone: Audi and Porsche. GT1 never had much competition. Corvette basically ran off everyone else. LMP1 and GT2 are really the only two viable classes here, and even LMP1 is likely to be weak next season if Highcroft and DeFerran decide to terminate their ALMS programs and join the IndyCar Series. The future of American sports car racing, sadly, is looking bleak and in the hands of Grand Am. (shudder)
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