The American Le Mans Series has revealed its schedule for the 2009 season, featuring eleven races over the course of the campaign.
The core schedule remains virtually the same as it has for the last several years, creating an environment of stability and traditional dates for the competing teams and fans alike. Chief operating officer Tim Mayer has however also announced two opportunities for teams to participate in post-season Le Mans races in Japan and China.
In a partnership announced by the ACO in June at the Le Mans 24 Hours, Japan begins a Le Mans-style series in 2009. Up to 10 teams from the American Le Mans Series will be invited to join teams from Europe's Le Mans Series as well as Asian teams in two November events held at Mount Fuji and Shanghai.
The 2009 schedule begins with the traditional Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on 21 March and concludes on 10 October with the Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Because of the way the 2009 calendar falls, some events move up or back a week. Only Mid-Ohio varies more from a year ago with its mid-July date moving to early August to begin a stretch of four races in five weeks that includes Road America, Mosport and Detroit's Belle Isle.
"We have established a strong, consistent schedule to which fans are getting accustomed," Mayer said, "and that certainly helps establish our fan base as well as foster growth and tradition.
"And I defy anyone to show us a more compelling three-race finish to a race series anywhere than what we have in Belle Isle, Petit Le Mans and Monterey. Coupled with one of the world's iconic endurance races in Sebring and some of the finest road and street courses in America, we believe we offer as exciting venues as any race series in the world."
The American Le Mans Series also races at St. Petersburg, Long Beach, Salt Lake City and Lime Rock Park with a traditional break during the summer for those teams wishing to take part in the Le Mans 24 Hours.
In a move to bring even more excitement to qualifying, Mayer also announced a change in the points structure, indicating that IMSA will award two points to each class' fastest qualifying team and one point to the second fastest qualifier in each class.
2009 American Le Mans Series Schedule:
26-28 Jan ALMS Winter Test
21 March Sebring International Raceway
4 April St Petersburg
18 April Long Beach
17 May Miller Motorsports Park
18 July Lime Rock Park
8 August Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
16 August Road America
30 August Mosport International Raceway
5 September Detroit
26 September Road Atlanta
10 October Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
Non-championship Asia Le Mans Series Opportunities:
1 November Fuji
8 November Shanghai