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American Le Mans exploring natural gas for Prototype Challenge Class
21 June 2012
|Prototype Challenge racers at Long Beach. Click to enlarge.|
The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), sanctioning body for the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón, has entered into an agreement with Jackson, Mich.-based Patrick Racing to research and develop natural gas as an alternative fuel for the Series’ Prototype Challenge (PC) cars.
IMSA/ALMS and Patrick Racing will identify development and testing opportunities for the source to power the Series’ PC cars, beginning as early as the 2013 season.
We are the only racing series recognized to comply with the Green Racing protocols developed by the US Department of Energy, the US Environmental Protection Agency and SAE International. These organizations see Green Racing as a way to foster technology developments for tomorrow’s consumer production vehicles, enhance national energy security, and reduce carbon emissions. We view the addition of natural gas to the Series as a means of continuing our mission to be on the front line of automotive technology advancement, while providing unequalled entertainment for our fans.—IMSA and ALMS Chief Operating Officer Scot Elkins
ALMS’ Prototype Challenge class features the ORECA FLM09, a race car with a minimum weight of 1,985 pounds (900 kg) and powered by a 430 hp (321 kW) Chevrolet LS3 engine. The FLM09 features a full carbon fiber chassis, carbon brakes and an Xtrac sequential gearbox with paddle shifting.
Green Racing is a major component of ALMS’ platform. Two Green Racing competitions are in play every time ALMS cars hit the track: the MICHELIN GREEN X Challenge aimed at ALMS teams and the GREEN CHALLENGE aimed at vehicle manufacturers.
Both the Michelin Green X Challenge and the Green Challenge use a unique scoring system jointly developed by ALMS, DOE and EPA technical staff that rewards high performance on the race circuit, energy efficiency, and the smallest environmental impact.
Patrick Racing was founded by oil and natural gas exploration and racing pioneer U.E. “Pat” Patrick. He developed the concept that natural gas would be an ideal fuel for racing engines. The company has also built and tested a natural gas-powered, turbo-charged, four-cylinder engine.
Heading the natural gas technical development for ALMS’ Prototype Challenge cars will be Indianapolis 500 Hall of Fame and Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee Jim McGee.
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