Tuesday, October 15, 2013

2013 ALMS Petit LeMans GTC preview

This is not a predicted finish, since anything can and does happen. But this is rather an assessment of each team's strength.

TRG #68; no drivers listed. We scoured everywhere in an attempt to find who the drivers might be but nothing has turned up.

NGT Motorsport #31; Christina Nielsen, Angel Benitez, Nicola Armindo. Nicola Armindo is probably looking forward to have a good showing for the team. He raced with them at Lime Rock in very humid conditions. During the race, his cool-suit system stopped working and he had to pit to be taken out of the car with severe heat exhaustion. Christina Nielsen is racing in the U.S for her first time ever. She has never raced alongside prototypes in her career. So it will be quite an experience for her.

Dempsey Racing #27; Patrick Dempsey, Andy Lally, Joe Foster. With Andy Lally racing full time with this team, we expected stronger results. We're aware that race results in endurance racing does not depend on one driver only. But qualifying does, yet Andy Lally has not been a regular pole position threat during those flat-out jaunts. Perhaps the team has not quite mastered the prepping of this entry level GT3 car just yet.

Flying Lizard Motorsports #44; Seth Neiman, Dion von Moltke, Bret Sandberg. One of the highlights of the season for the whole team and in truth for the ALMS, was when Dion von Moltke drove to victory in Baltimore. His co-driver Seth Neiman is the team owner (very special day indeed), and that was his first race win in a LeMans badged event. Given Seth's investment in the sport over the years, we were genuinely happy for him. We doubt the same "special" circumstances that allowed them to win in Baltimore will repeat themselves here.

Dempsey Racing #10; Charlie Putman, Charles Espenlaub, Darren Law. Not quite the star power in the sister #27 car, but they make up for that with more racing pedigree. The #27 car has essentially one professional driver (Andy Lally), while this car has 2 of them flanking Charlie Putman.

JDX Racing #11; Mike Hedlund, Jan Heylen, Jon Fogarty. The best car livery in the ALMS. But they just seem to be a step behind the real powerhouse teams in GTC. Jan Heylend and Jon Fogarty can be plenty fast, but in these races, it's more than just the drivers.

Flying Lizard Motorsports #45; Nelson Canache Jr., Spencer Pumpelly, Madison Snow. Madison Snow's Mom and Dad won the inaugural GTC championship in 2009. The class was made of real amateurs then. Today Melanie and Martin would have trouble finishing halfway down the order in the championship without an FIA Platinum rated driver at their side. The class now boasts some of the world's best Porsche drivers. Madison Snow being included on a lineup that still has a very faint hope of a drivers' crown, and team championship, speaks of his growing abilities.

TRG #68; Ben Keating, Damien Faulkner, Craig Stanton. They have won the past 2 races, and really seem to have a good momentum going. But it's easier to perform when there's nothing on the line. If those wins came earlier in the season, they would now be aiming for the championship. They will be going all out for the win here. However now that they have won 2 races in a row, the other top teams have become wary of them, and their own expectations have grown.

NGT Motorsport #30; Henrique Cisneros, Jakub Giermaziak, Mario Farnbacher. The team will be rocked by the passing away of Sean Edwards in Australia. He was not scheduled to race at Petit LeMans, but he had been their best driver during the year. You will be missed Sean...

The younger Farnbacher was very fast during last year's Petit LeMans. And this year he will be even more knowledgeable about the track. Because they're in the title chase they might settle for simply finishing ahead of the #22 Alex Job Car. We're not sure if the lack of continuity in the driver lineup is doing them any favors.

Alex Job Racing #22; Cooper Macneil, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Sebastian Bleekemolen. Just the team's name rings bells about their know-how. The crew around this car is one of the best. The driving squad complements itself very well also. Can you tell? This is the strongest squad here. But again like the #30 NGT car, they only have to beat their championship contending rivals. They won't necessarily be racing to win, but it can happen as the result of a fabulous race.