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The American Le Mans Series


Monster-Mat
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Finanally! After months of study, indecision, speculation and weighing as many as 8 possible alternative racing series and classes (even rallying!), Team Lexus has decided to enter two specially-prepared IS350s in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GT2S class.

Team Lexus and Lexus USA corporate jointly issued this official press release:

Lexus to Race New IS 350 in the American Le Mans Series in 2006

Just six weeks after introducing the new IS 350 to the American market, Lexus announced today (1 December 2005) that it will enter the powerful luxury sport sedan in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GT2 class in 2006 with a two-car team.

Under a new-for-2006 “S2” vehicle preparation standard, the IS 350 sedans will compete against established GT2 sports cars such as the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR and Panoz Esperante and race for the same prizes, points and championships. Several other S2-prep cars are expected for 2006 as well, including the BMW M3.

“The ALMS endurance road-racing series is the ideal place to showcase the technology and performance of our new IS 350,” said Lexus Group Vice President and General Manager Bob Carter. “We expect the competition to be very tough, but we are confident that the new IS 350 will be a formidable challenger.”

As with the previous generation IS, Lexus will team with its production car racing partner, Team Lexus, who will build, develop and campaign the new cars. After a successful four-year run in the Grand Am Cup series with two championships and numerous wins, pole positions and podium finishes, the team has already begun preparing the IS 350s for their new mission.

“Developing and racing two brand-new cars in a new category will be a major challenge, but one that we relish,” said Team Lexus owner/driver Chuck Goldsborough. “We’ve been building our team along with the new cars this year and are looking forward to some of the most exciting road racing in North America.”

The ALMS’ S2 standard creates opportunities for new competitors to enter the series that were previously unavailable. This opened the door for Lexus to enter the new IS in a series with international appeal, populated with premium car makers.

"The Lexus brand coming into the American Le Mans Series is as close to a natural fit as we could ever imagine,” said ALMS President Scott Atherton. “When anyone mentions Lexus, many of the same attributes that are associated with the American Le Mans Series come to mind - words like luxury, high performance, leading-edge technology, style and quality describe both brands.”

Although Team Lexus expects to begin racing early in the 2006 season, the specific timing will be based on vehicle build and development progress. Driver lineup for the two-car team will be announced at a later date. (End of official press release).

Even before we got word of the Lexus press release, our very own Webmaster discovered the official American Le Mans Series press release via the Dubspeed Driven website. Some of it is a rehash of the Lexus information, but these excerpts are worthy of mention:

Braselton, GA - Culminating an unprecedented week of competitor growth, the American Le Mans Series announced today Lexus as the second of two elite manufacturers that in a three-day span have made commitments to field a two-car, factory-backed racing program for the 2006 season.

“Much like we hope the new IS will become, we view the American Le Mans Series as an aspirational series,” said Lexus Group Vice President and General Manager Bob Carter. “It’s an ideal fit for Lexus because it celebrates the technology and performance inherent in the best cars.”

Scott Atherton, president and CEO of the American Le Mans Series, echoed those thoughts... "On behalf of the series, and its manufacturers and competitors, we are proud and honored to welcome Lexus into our competitive ranks.”

Lexus is the second premium manufacturer to announce its participation in the American Le Mans Series this week. Tuesday, BMW confirmed its plan to bring two factory-backed M3s to the series grid starting at the 54th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March.

One by one, Atherton’s promises of delivering new manufacturers and teams to the American Le Mans Series in his September “State of the Series” address at Petit Le Mans are materializing. And with an outstanding 10-race schedule that impacts nine of the top 20 markets across North America, the best television package in the series’ history and 2005 season results indicating double-digit increases in sponsorship ROIs, times have never been better.

“The American Le Mans Series, with its ‘premium brand of motorsport’ platform, is experiencing an unprecedented level of growth and expansion, and Lexus has recognized this,” Atherton said. “This represents more than the addition of another prestigious manufacturer to our ranks. Lexus will bring another wave of elite sponsors, high-end clientele and a level of activation that we expect will establish a new benchmark. Lexus’ involvement in the American Le Mans Series will have a positive impact by every measure. But the best part is that there still is more good news to come.”

Cars competing in GT2S are not eligible for the 24 Hours of Le Mans at this time. However, GT2S entries will be classified in the GT2 class of the American Le Mans Series and will be eligible to score championship points. Series officials are working closely with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) to evaluate the involvement of GT2S cars in the American Le Mans Series with the possibility of making them eligible for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the future.

2006_lexus_lemans.jpg

Original article on IS.net

Edited by Monster-Mat
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