sportscarpros Gallery

Travel the Breadth of Extremities

Many laps down but back in the race…………that’s SCP right now. Will we continue to circulate making up the numbers or will we emulate Ickx/Barth/Haywood Le Mans 1977 style and power through to victory? Only time will tell.

David Lister went to California a month or so ago for the diversions of LA and the attractions of the Monterey Peninsula. While shooting the ALMS finale he had a few thoughts about the two series that have been spawned by the Great Race. He wrote this in October………

Subsequent events such as Audi committing to the LMS and ALMS in 2008, subject to certain conditions, may well give those of us in Europe what the Americans have enjoyed in 2007, factory teams going hammer and tongs at each other.

Roll on Sebring and Barcelona says I.

 John Brooks, December 2007

Are the ALMS and the LMS two sides of the same coin?

Probably not is the answer.

In fact, although they both take the same set of regulations as their basis, they couldn't be more different.

As different, perhaps, as the Dollar and the Euro.

The principal difference between the ALMS and the LMS seems to be that the ALMS seems to encourage competition between professional, manufacturer supported teams. There is an attempt to balance the performance of the cars in the different prototype classes, by various rules adjustments, so that, regardless of class, there is a close battle at the front of the field. It's an approach that the fans can appreciate. The battle for the overall lead of the race is the draw. The mantra seems to be one of "Who cares if it's LMP1 or LMP2, I wanna see a race” and it works, well mostly.

Last weekend we had two prototypes, a Porsche and an Audi, duking it out for the final 30 minutes or so to end a 4 hour race only a few seconds apart, passing and repassing many times along the way. It nearly went on as long as the last lap in the Steve McQueen film, Le Mans (and was no less exciting). And we even had the next four or five cars or so also finish on the lead lap. Phew..!!!

And it's been like this for many races now……..

The LMS is not like this.. It adheres rigorously to the Le Mans class rules and an LMP1 car (a Peugeot, in fact) is more than likely to win. Indeed, such had been their speed advantage that, mostly, if a Peugeot finishes, it wins usually by several laps. Yet the LMS series has still has managed to create a close finish with a situation where the rank favourites (Peugeot) can still be pipped at the post by Pescarolo for the championship when the series ends in Brazil, next week. OK, this probably says more for the reliability issues of the Peugeot team than it does for the outright speed of Pescarolo (frequently, one Pug finishes, one does not, and if the same car had finished 4 times, the championship would have been sewn up). Clearly, Pescarolo have done a sterling job, with rather more limited resources than the Pug Lion. But it's been rather like the tortoise and the hare, of the fable, with one racing off into the distance, sometimes winning, sometimes breaking, and the other steadily picking up points throughout.

In the LMS 50-car grids are not uncommon, but the rub, if there is one, is that few of those 50 cars would seriously be considered contenders for an outright win and there is little racing of any kind up front. An RS Spyder in the LMS will be expected to tool around in the LMP2 class, not challenge for an outright win and to ensure this in 2008 those wanting to run the Spyder in Europe have to include a gentleman driver in the equation or so we are lead to believe.

The difference, really, is that the ALMS races seem to have much more of an immediate, visceral impact.. In many ways, ALMS, as such, is much more like the World Touring Car Championship, in its fan friendly impact and performance equalisation..

ALMS really does live up to its mottoes "for the fans" and "World Class".

But does that mean either one is any better than the other is?

Probably not..

Vodka Collins, prime rib and Playboy Bunnies; fine wine, foie gras and Brigitte Bardot; all have their moments.

Last weekend I was in Laguna Seca for the last round of the ALMS 2007 season. I'd had my fill of fine wines, foie gras and Brigitte Bardot this year (must have missed that…Ed). I was in the mood for Vodka Collins, prime rib and Playboy Bunnies.

It was big, brash, professional, exciting and relentless.

It didn't disappoint.


David Lister October 2007

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