It’s been a desperately slow summer when it comes to local Middle Eastern Motorsport… thankfully though we have the European season, with epics such as Le Mans, Spa24hrs, the Silverstone 6hrs, British Touring cars etc etc. Closer to our activities though and shining slightly brighter on our radar is the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). With it’s mix of superb race tracks, a killer GT grid and local interest (Oryx Racing) battling it out in the LMP category, it makes for exciting racing and strong interest from c&p.
It’s good news then, that contributing writer and probably one of the best photographers (more than just motorsport) we know, is on the ground in the US documenting events as they happen… well, when he is isn’t busy and is able to travel.
Take it away Camden >>>
Welcome to Mid Ohio and my photo diary of events as they happened. Endurance sportscar racing is always a delight to photograph. I enjoy every minute I get to stand track side and peer through the viewfinder at the amazing machinery in action.
This image on the 45 Flying Lizard Porsche is perhaps a symbol of how the season is going for the team. It’s a bit off and missing a few pieces, namely a win. It might not be accurate to say that the Porsches have been uncompetitive this year in GT racing, but it is obvious that they are perhaps not as strong as in years past. The Lizards have had their fair share of bad luck this year as well.
The GT class this year has belonged to the Bavarian machines from BMW Team RLL (Rahal Letterman Lanigan). Since the first race of the year in Sebring, Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller have qualified the German sport-sedan on pole for every race so far. To try and bring the competition a little bit closer, the ALMS rule makers have dropped a smaller restrictor size on the BMW team to try and limit their speed. This hasn’t seemed to have changed much… at least not for outright qualifying performance.
The silhouette of the Aston Martin Lola is perhaps one of the most beautiful shapes ever to grace a race circuit.
Similarly, the BMW M3 is in my opinion the meanest looking GT car when viewed from the front. In the reverse direction, the award goes to the plus-sized rear end of the Porsche 997 RSR.
GT racing right now is very strong with a number of national and international series and lots of manufacturer support.
However, it’s no secret that the prototype classes are a bit lacking at the moment. It is a bit sad that Honda and Highcroft Racing have parted ways. They had a stunning performance in the 12 Hours of Sebring and were able to take the fight to the diesel monsters of Audi and Peugeot. It’s also a shame that the car which only ran one race and had quite a lot of potential is now sitting – patiently waiting – in a garage somewhere.
After a fairly poor season last year, Corvette Racing may have been a little conservative on engine development this year, yet even still they have had some good performances. They are certainly eager wins this year.
…As is their tyre supplier Michelin.
Toni Vilander fastens the strap on his crash hat before hopping into the Ferrari 458. The new Italian machinery is visually quite striking in the traditional Ferrari red, as well as the black-green of Extreme Speed Motorsports.
With three times the displacement and three times the number of cylinders between the Aston Martin and Mazda powerplants, it’s amazing that the competition between the top LMP1 can be as close as it is. The secret and magical ingredient here is the turbocharger. The little turbo Mazda engines in the two Dyson cars put up a strong fight against the naturally aspirated V12 of the Aston Martin.
The Jaguar XKR certainly wins the award for loudest GT car. The Rocketsports team has certainly made large improvements to the reliability and pace of this car for 2011. One aspect that seems to have unfortunately (at least from a photographers point of view) disappeared from the Jaguar repertoire this year, is the spectacular flames shooting out of the exhaust on deceleration.
The spectators are a large part of any sport and these two gentlemen look to be having a excellent time perched atop their motorhome.
The BMWs were again the class of the field while the sun stayed out.
But sometimes the sunshine doesn’t last very long. The rain tires from Falken have proven in the past to very efficient, possibly even better than the offerings from tire giants Michelin and Dunlop. While the likes of Porsche, BMW, and Corvette struggled in the wet conditions, the teal and green machine with Wolf Henzler behind the wheel passed a number of cars and found itself in the lead.
It eventually came to a point where the conditions were borderline impossible to drive in safely and the race was stopped a few minutes short.
Team Falken came away with their debut win in American Le Mans Series competition. The development work put in by the team and a stunning drive in the closing minutes of the race finally paid off.
I’ll be in and out of the next few races… but who knows, if I go, you’ll know about it right here.