The American Le Mans Series' 2009 Season Finale
John Baker and Guy Cosmo take the #47 Orbit Racing Porsche GT3 Challenge car west this weekend for the Monterey Sports Car Championships Presented by Patron featuring the American Le Mans Series. The team will take on the challenging Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca as the American Le Mans Series winds up the 2009 racing season. For Baker and Cosmo this will be the final race in their inaugural American Le Mans Challenge 5-race campaign. While the duo have enjoyed a season that found them on the pole twice, a win at Laguna would be a perfect way to end the season. The race is a true test of endurance for the team as it will be four hours in length, running into twilight over what is arguably one of the most scenic road course in North America.
"We want this one bad," noted Guy Cosmo. "For a variety of reasons, we have yet to win an American Le Mans Challenge race… we're overdue. I know John has been putting in a lot of work preparing for this race and he's focused. For me, working with John as been an absolute pleasure. I couldn't be more pleased with John's development as a driver. We've both had a lot of fun and nothing would top off the year more than celebrating a victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca."
John Baker will also participate in the final race of the Patron GT3 Challenge by Yokohama. With Cosmo coaching from the sidelines, it will make for a busy weekend for all. None more than the Orbit racing team. With all the run-time the cars will see, maintaining and staying on top of the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars will have the team going around the clock.
The four-hour format will be a first for the American Le Mans Challenge class. The 2009 season was the inaugural year for the GT3 cars running with American Le Mans pro-level events, however the other four events were the regular 2:45 hour format. In addition to being a longer event, the Monterey Sports Car Championships Presented by Patron will run into dusk. Add to that the daunting elevation changes of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and it will definitely come down to the survival of the fittest.
"This format and this track will change a driver forever," laughed Cosmo. "It's going to be action-packed, flag-to-flag racing for the full four hours. The elevation changes are coming at you non-stop, lap after lap. There is no real opportunity to catch your breath. The Corkscrew drops 59 feet between the entrance of Turn 8 to the exit of Turn 8A – the equivalent of a 5 ½ story drop – in only 450 feet of track length. And when the sun starts to set, the closing rate of those huge prototypes is going to seem like double the norm. The last hour of this race will be run on pure adrenaline."
Set in the hills of Salinas and overlooking the Monterey Bay, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca has been visited by some of the most prestigious racers in history; Roger Penske, Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones, Kenny Roberts, Bobby Rahal, Wayne Rainey and Valentino Rossi to name a few. The late 60's and 1970's may be remembered as the "Can-Am Years," but it was also the debut of Trans Am, IMSA and AMA motorcycles. Today, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca hosts five world-class race weekends each season, with elite road racing series from around the world visiting the Monterey Peninsula every year.
"The good news is," remarked Cosmo, "I love Laguna Seca… for the elevation & character of the course, the racing history and how it reminds me of the former Bridgehampton Raceway on Long Island, NY. Plus, Monterey is also one of the best towns we visit all year long. With the American Le Mans' awards banquet to enjoy Sunday night, it'll be a very nice weekend for all of us. I'm really looking forward to it."
Reflecting back on his 2005 Rookie of the Year title, Cosmo is actively pursuing a full time seat in the American Le Mans Series. With his prototype experience as a definite plus, Cosmo is confident his background is of value and would fit in with any number of ALMS teams.
"I'd really like to have an opportunity to contest the full championship in a prototype or GT car," expressed Cosmo. "These five races participating in the American Le Mans Challenge have been great, but it's hard to be around this paddock just part time. I want to be here full time, to win races and win championships. I'm ready, and the time is now. I hope I can find a program that shares the same goals as mine and get something full-time for 2010."
Fans will want to make a point of stopping by to visit with Baker and Cosmo during Saturday's autograph session and pick up the limited edition poster commemorating John's and Guy's 2009 season together. The posters are limited in supply, so fans should come by early. The autograph session is slated to run from 12 noon to 1PM in the ALMS paddock.
Monterey Sports Car Championships Presented by Patron is the season finale for the Challenge class participating with the American Le Mans Series regulars. Earlier this year, IMSA and the American Le Mans Series announced the formation of the Challenge class as an effort to promote the brightest and best of a new generation of sports car drivers. The Challenge class will compete with the American Le Mans Series for five races in 2009.
To be eligible for selection by the sanctioning body (IMSA), drivers and teams must have had notable success for at least a year within GT3 level of racing. Teams may only field Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars from the Platinum class of the Patrón GT3 Challenge by Yokohama, which is supplying the spec tire for both its championship and the Challenge class.
Certain technical regulations for the American Le Mans Series' GT2 class will apply for Challenge entries, most notably rules governing refueling. Sporting regulations for the Challenge class also differ slightly from GT2. The number of crew members allowed over the wall during a pit stop is reduced, and only two members with only one wheel gun are allowed to change tires per stop. Teams also will have to make at least one stop to change all four tires at one point during the race.
The distribution of points will follow the American Le Mans Series championship. In a two-hour, 45-minute "sprint" format, class winners receive 20 points, runners-up 16, third-place 13 and down the line to 1 point for 10th place. A Challenge entry is limited to three drivers per car; however all competitors who drive an entry during the season will share the points awarded to that entry throughout the season. To score points, an entry must complete 70 percent of the overall race winner's distance.
Drive time requirements from other Series classes apply - a two-hour maximum per competitor with each driver required to complete at least 10 laps.
Guy Cosmo is one of the most successful and versatile young racing drivers of his day. Guy is recognized as a first-class professional racer in the sports car road racing industry, having won the 2005 American Le Mans Series Rookie of the Year award and positioning himself as a proven front-runner in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype category. Guy's success stems from supportive family, friends and fans that have helped him through race wins and championships from Kart Racing, Formula Ford, Formula 2000, Star Mazda and Toyota Atlantic, to his professional endeavors in the Grand-Am and American Le Mans Series.
You can find out more about Guy at http://www.guycosmo.com and follow Guy on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/guycosmo
The final race in the 2009 American Le Mans Series is the four-hour Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. The green flag is scheduled for 2:45 p.m. PT on Saturday, October 10. The race will air on SPEED from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, October 11. Live coverage will be available on American Le Mans Radio presented by Porsche via americanlemans.com, which also will feature Living Timing & Scoring on Racehub. Live coverage also can be heard on Sirius 126 and XM 242.