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ALMS Year 2000 Season Review
With The Dust Finally Settled, The Best Factory Teams and Drivers
have Swept the Championships. Is Anyone Surprized?
ORECA Viper Driver Olivier Beretta is Set to Win the ALMS Driver's Title After the Season Finale in Adelaide.
Photo courtesy of: Team Unicorn
GTS - Last Hurrah for ORECA Vipers?
Audi Team Joest Driver Alan McNish Looks All but Assured of Winning the Driver's Title After the Race in Adelaide.
Photo courtesy of: Team Unicorn
LMP - Audi Dominates 2000 Season
Dick Barbour Driver Sascha Maassen Lost the Year 2000 Drivers Title to Fellow Dick Barbour Driver Dirk Muller.
Photo courtesy of: Team Unicorn
GT - Porsche GT3R Dominates Season
The 2000 GTS Championship can be summed up with one word: ORECA. The works Vipers have dominated the year, winning most of the races and sweeping the 12 Hours of Sebring. Outside of the ALMS, ORECA also captured the overall win at the Rolex 24 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Fans of the mighty Corvette C5R can cheer the victories at Texas and the Petite Le Mans, but the Vettes did not contest enough races to impact the ALMS Championship. In many ways, the Corvette C5R owes its existence to the success of the Chrysler Viper. Now the Vettes have come of age, and in terms of outright speed are at least the equal of the aging Vipers.
Porsche contested every GTS class race of the 2000 ALMS season, but was never a threat to the Vipers and Vettes. The old air-cooled twin turbo 993 based racer has clearly seen its day, and is in desperate need of a replacement. The news from Porsche of no new car for several more years must have been hard to swallow for stalwart GTS competitors Roock Racing. Judging by the success of the GT class 911 GT3R, Porsche has what it takes to build a winner for GTS. It's hard to believe that Porsche would rather build a Sport Utility Vehicle.
For 2001, ORECA is set to compete in  the faster Prototype class. That may be unfortunate for their Viper fans, as the Vettes will contest the entire year. It remains to be seen if top privateer Viper teams will run the entire ALMS season against the Vettes.
The Viper vs Vette battles have been some of the most competitive and thrilling in recent memory. With commitment from the Vettes for a full season and the arrival of the new Saleen S7R, the year 2001 will be awfully lonely without the mighty ORECA Vipers. However, ORECA has achieved much in their years with the Vipers. Now they again lust for an overall victory at Le Mans.
Rest assured, we haven't seen the last of ORECA.
Ever since their sweep at Sebring it was apparent that the Joest run Audi team was serious about success. The 2000 spec R8R was an entirely new car, and built on the lessons learned in 1999. Audi was expecting serious competition from BMW, Mercedes Benz, Toyota and Nissan. The 2000 spec R8R was developed with a titanic battle against these other constructors in mind.
As it turned out, Mercedes Benz, Toyota and Nissan all withdrew from Sportscar racing. BMW would contest the 2000 ALMS season, but it was obvious that their interest had now turned to Formula One. The BMW V12 LMR that had competed so successfully in 1999 entered the 2000 season with few significant revisions. As a result, the Schnitzer Team struggled to match last years performance. As we enter the final event for the 2000 ALMS season, BMW has already been mathematically eliminated from LM/P title contention. With this in mind the Schnitzer team bowed out of the ALMS series in November.
Panoz was an exciting element of the 2000 season. Led by drivers Jan Magnusen and David Brabham, their late season charge was a surprise for everyone (especially Audi). Had they won at Laguna Seca and Las Vegas, the upcoming Adelaide event would have a very different feel.
However, Sportcar racing is full of "what ifs" and "could haves". Panoz will have the 2001 season to prove themselves and their all new car.
Throughout the 2000 season it was Audi who set the pace. BMW, Panoz, Rafanelli and the privateers could learn much from the flawless performance of the Joest team and their R8Rs.
Next year will bring new machines to the LM/P class, but Audi will certainly be ready to defend their title. Our warmest congratulations to Audi and to Team Joest.
We could just type the words "Porsche 911 GT3R" about 600 times, and that would describe the dominance of the 996 based GT class racer. So effective is Porsche's weapon that only once in 2000 did a BMW M3 secure victory (and then only briefly).
The description "assembly line race car" fits the 911 GT3R well. Ironically, the success of the 911 GT3R came at a price: Due to the glut of Porsches in the GT class, many teams raced in almost total anonymity. Consequently, Unless a 911 GT3R was being punted off the track by a lapping Prototype, leading the GT class was the only way to get airtime during a race. Several teams, including Alex Job Racing and the factory backed Dick Barbour Racing were very good at leading the GT class.
The first season for the E46 based BMW M3 can aptly be described as frustrating. The BMWs were consistently down on power compared to the 911 GT3Rs. Even so, the PTG team competed fiercely against the hoards of 911s, securing a win at Sears Point (only to have it stripped away due to a fuel cell violation).
To help even the odds, next year COULD see V8 powered BMW M3s. This hinges on future rulings from the ACO (Le Mans governing body). This year, the PTG Racing BMW M3s clearly had an advantage in handling on many roadcourses. With more power, they could have been a factor for the Championship. Next year should be very interesting.
Porsche is not content to take this years success for granted. A revised 911 GT3RS has already been released.
The GT class has been competitive, but in truth only among the Porsches. A more diverse group of cars would bring a refreshing change from the endless droves of 911s. However, apart from BMW no other constructor has committed to the ALMS. The lack of players may help clear the way for another Porsche Title next year.