Merger of Grand-Am, American Le Mans Series Moves Forward
- Grand-Am Road Racing and the American Le Mans Series have laid out basic plans for class structure when the unified series begins competition in 2014.
- Five classes of sports cars will compete next year in a unified racing series.
- Officials of the Grand-Am and American Le Mans Series say "the best of both series" will be included.
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — In an announcement high on optimism and low on details, officials of the two merging sports car racing organizations, Grand-Am Road Racing and the American Le Mans Series, laid out basic plans for class structure when the unified series begins competition in 2014.
The new combined series will feature most of the classes and cars from the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series and American Le Mans Series. Rules are to be in effect for two years, through the end of the 2015 season.
Significant in its omission — at least at this point — is the American Le Mans Series' headline division, Le Mans Prototype 1 (abbreviated LMP1 or P1). That's the class that includes the turbodiesel-powered Audi and Peugeot machines that have dominated the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the diesel-electric hybrid Audi that won Le Mans last year.
The lineup will include four or possibly five classes of racecars. Like the series, none of the classes has been named yet.
The top class will be a combination of Grand-Am's top-tier division, Daytona Prototype (DP), and ALMS's Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2 or P2) class. P2 cars are smaller, less powerful and slower than P1 machines. DP cars are slower than P2 cars under present regulations, but officials say rules changes will be made to equalize the cars competing in the class.
The headlining prototype class will include the DeltaWing prototype, officials noted.
The ALMS Prototype Challenge, a spec racing series, will continue to run as a separate class.
At least two classes of Grand Touring (GT) cars, based on production-based models rather than the purpose-built prototoypes, will compete, with the present Grand-Am and ALMS classes retaining their rules and characteristics.
Still to be decided is whether Grand-Am's new GX class for cars utilizing emerging technology will run as a separate class or be merged with the Grand-Am GT class.
Also to be announced later are results of discussions about inclusion of green technologies in the new unified series.
Edmunds says: It remains to be seen how a change as radical as the elimination of P1 will fit into the overall scheme of things, especially with regard to the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the rules structure of that race's governing body, the Automobile Club de l'Ouest.