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Le Mans Series

Le Mans Series

The Le Mans Series (LMS) is a European sports car racing endurance series based around the 24 Hours of Le Mans race and run by the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO). The series was originally named the Le Mans Endurance Series, but changed its name prior to the 2006 season. It is similar to the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) based in the United States and Canada that has been running with ACO backing since 1999, but run by the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA). It is also seen as a rebirth of the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) which was created by IMSA and the ACO, but only ran in 2001. LMS champions and runners-up in all four categories receive an automatic entry to the following year's Le Mans 24 Hour Race.

History

The ACO, seeing the success of the American Le Mans Series but not completely satisfied with the fact that IMSA did not fully comply with the ACO's regulations in order to help attract privateer teams, as well as the failure of the FIA Sportscar Championship to succeed in Europe, decided that a series run by themselves would be a better alternative for Europe. The ACO would instead attempt to attract factory-backed teams with longer endurance races than ALMS and FIA SCC ran, but less races in a season to help keep costs down. The series would also be European based instead of international, thus it could be closer to the factories of a large number of sports car teams to help attract them to the series. Winners of the LMES championship would go on to earn automatic entries in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, similar to the American Le Mans Series.

The series was initially previewed in an open race run under the LMES banner in 2003 at the 1000km of Le Mans, a one-off event before the season started in 2004. In cold and rainy weather this race saw a grid of 35 cars and it was the Audi Sport Japan Team Goh which took the win with Tom Kristensen and Seiji Ara at the wheel of their Audi R8. The race was attended by approx. 10.000 spectators.

The reglement for the first full LMS season awarded points to the top 8 finishers in the order of 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1. Teams with multiple entries do not have their cars combined, each entry number is scored separately in the championship. Cars failing to complete 70% of the winner's distance are not awarded points.

The 2004 Le Mans Series season saw 4 classic races: The 1000km Monza, 1000km Nürburgring, 1000 km Silverstone and the Spa Francorchamps 1000km. This season was dominated by the Audi Sport UK Veloqx Team which took all 4 overall wins and the first 2 positions in the season LMP1 championship, in the LMP2 class the french Team Courage Compétition became the season winner, GTS (now GT1) class honours went to Larbre Compétition with their Ferrari 550, GT (now GT2) winner was Sebah Automotive with a Porsche 911.

2005 saw the series expand to a five race format with the addition of the Istanbul Racing Circuit. The 5 overall wins went to 3 different teams, LMP1 championship went to the French Pescarolo Team, LMP2 to UK based Chamberlain-Synergy Motorsport, GT1 to BMS Scuderia Italia and GT2 once again to Sebah Automotive.

2006 saw again a season with five 1000 km races in Istanbul, the Nürburgring, Spa Francorchamps, Donnington and Jarama. The race in Istanbul made worldwide headlines, but other than the organizers had wished for: Already underway, it was shortened to a limit of 4 hours due to a lack of fuel brought to the event by the Turkish organizers! Team Pescarolo Sport won all 5 races and the LMP1 championship, in LMP2 Team Barazi-Epsilon became the winner, in GT1 it was Aston Martin Racing Larbre, in GT2 Italian Autorlando Sport became the season winner.

In 2007 the LMS went to its first overseas race when they contested their sixth round in Brazil's Mil Milhas, a 1000 mile race. The other five 1000 km rounds were held at Monza, Valencia, Nürburgring, Silverstone and Spa Francorchamps. Not surprisingly it was Team Peugeot with their Diesel engine powerd LMP1 which took all wins. In LMP2 class the championship went to the UK based Ray Mallock Team, GT1 saw the French Team Oreca with a Saleen S-7R in front, GT2 went to another UK team, Virgo Motorsport.

This year will see 5 rounds again, the 1000 km races at Barcelona, Monza, Spa Francorchamps, the Nürburgring and Silverstone. In November there will be a 1000 km race in Shanghai, China which is not part of he LMS but is a preview of a future Asian Le Mans Series.

Source: Wikipedia

War of the classes

The Le Mans Series isn't just about overall win, as it comprises four separate classes - each fighting for the honours in their respective category - with the competition within each one often as fierce as that for the overall victory. The four classes are LMP (Le Mans Prototype) 1 and LMP2, GT1 - the "look like production" category, and GT2 - the "close to production" category. LMP1 is, as far as the rule book is concerned, the fastest of the four, so under normal circumstances, is the one from which the overall race winner is likely to come.

The 4 classes - overview

Le Mans Prototype 1 (LMP1)

LMP1

Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2)

LMP2

Le Mans Grand Tourisme 1 (LMGT1)

LMGT1

Le Mans Grand Tourisme 2 (LMGT2)

LMGT2

The "Leader Lights"

Leader Lights

For 2007 the A.C.O. announced the introduction of the "leader lights" system. Each car must have 3 LED lights mounted on both sides; these lights have different colours for each class: LMP1: red lights, LMP2: blue lights, LMGT1: green lights and LMGT2: yellow lights. The leading car of each class will show one light switched on, the second place car two lights, the third place car 3 lights. If no lights are burning then the car is fourth or further down the order. These "leader lights" will help trackside spectators to follow the progress of the race, especially at night or in poor visibility. This system was developed and first introduced by the organizers of the American Le Mans Series in 2002 with the original idea coming from an American race fan. It reloads at the timing line so it is basically the previous lap position that one is viewing.

All pictures on this page are © Deborah Dudley