Atherton comments on new Porsche LMP2

ATHERTON DELIGHTED WITH INTIAL DETAILS ON PORSCHE LMP2 Braselton, Ga. - Building off the landmark news of Porsche's return to prototype racing within the American Le Mans Series, President and CEO Scott Atherton expressed his pleasure with the...

ATHERTON DELIGHTED WITH INTIAL DETAILS ON PORSCHE LMP2

Braselton, Ga. - Building off the landmark news of Porsche's return to prototype racing within the American Le Mans Series, President and CEO Scott Atherton expressed his pleasure with the initial details of the German manufacturer's LMP2 race car. Porsche released early technical specifications and images today of its prototype that Penske Motorsports will field for the last two races of the 2005 ALMS season, Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta and the Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in October, and all of the 2006 schedule.

"There continues to be a steady and, if anything, increasing level of interest stemming from these announcements," Atherton said. "It has gone beyond the core group of just those who are excited about Porsche coming back; it has grown to involve people and organizations we have not heard from before. The American Le Mans Series essentially received the Good Housekeeping seal when Porsche and Penske made their announcement at the Grand Prix of Atlanta in April."

The Porsche LMP2 features an open-top design with a completely new Porsche engine, transmission and chassis, all incorporating the latest in Porsche automotive technology and created to conform to new 2006 rules and regulations of international sanctioning body Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO).

Considering the car is intended for customer teams, its LMP2 mandated weight of 1,653 pounds (or 750 kilograms) was achieved through an integrated lightweight design rather than the mere use of expensive and exotic materials.

"Prototype racing is an arena of high technology that enables manufacturers to showcase the technology, creativity and ingenuity of their engineering capabilities in one of the most difficult and demanding environments that exists: endurance racing," Atherton said. "But it's a semi-controlled environment that doesn't allow ridiculous unbridled technology to dominate and ultimately decimate the relevance of the platform.

"This is not intended to be a factory program that simply dominates. It's intended to be a precursor of a comprehensive, multi-car customer program," Atherton continued. "The high-watermarks that have been achieved in prototype racing were when Porsche has had a strong customer prototype program whether it was in the 935, 956 or 962 era. Our goal and Porsche's goal is to return to those times. Having a dozen Porsche prototypes racing in the series would be a spectacular situation for all involved, and I think there is a real opportunity to get there. Teams will have access to a cutting edge, state-of-the-art, factory-supported prototype program as customers of Porsche Motorsport just as they do now with GT2."

The Porsche prototype will be powered by a new 3.4-liter, 90 degree V8 engine. Able to produce 480 hp at 10,100 rpm under the ACO's regulations, the lightweight Porsche engine has a very low center of gravity. It features four valves per cylinder, a dry sump lubrication system, and an air intake manifold with single cylinder throttle valves.

The engine is tied to a Porsche-engineered sequential six-speed constant mesh transmission. A structural part of the car, the gearbox is operated by a paddle shift system on the steering wheel and incorporates a triple-disc carbon fiber racing clutch.

Like the 1998 911 GT1 race car and current Carrera GT street car, the Porsche LMP2's monocoque chassis is constructed of carbon fiber. It is attached to a strong yet lightweight framework (built to the latest safety standards of international road racing) that includes a front and rear double-wishbone suspension with ball joints, adjustable front and rear anti-roll bars, and four-way shock absorbers. For optimal stopping performance, the braking system includes twin master cylinders, adjustable brake balance, and internally vented carbon brake discs (380 mm front and 355 mm rear).

For driver comfort and safety, the new prototype is equipped with power steering and a tire pressure control system. An integral partner in the car's development process, Michelin is supplying race tires for the new Porsche prototype.

Porsche's LMP2 entry into prototype racing is one of many new ventures for some of the world's most renowned manufacturers, strictly with the ALMS in mind.

"The American Le Mans Series already has its benchmark teams and drivers and events, and I think the combination of Porsche and Penske together will establish another benchmark to aspire to," Atherton said. "Penske Motorsports has been doing a lot work benchmarking our teams. They're not taking this lightly. They've attended all our events in some form or another so far this year and taken pages of notes and lots of photographs, all with an eye toward benchmarking their debut in our series.

"The pipeline of content is refilling in LMP1 and LMP2. In the last 90 days, we have seen Courage, Porsche, Audi and now Riley & Scott confirm LMP programs for 2006," he continued. "No doubt there are others that we simply haven't heard from yet. I believe we're on the front edge of a resurgence of new prototype content, and when this is coupled with the already strong activity in the GT classes, it bodes well for the ALMS in general, especially our loyal fans."

Along with Porsche's debut later this year, Mazda already has claimed an LMP2 class victory with its engine in the rotary-powered Sportsbook.com/B-K Motorsports Courage C65. Other manufacturers that have committed to LMP1 programs for 2006 include Audi, Courage and Riley & Scott. The new entries, along with the ALMS' current crop of outstanding cars and teams in both the prototype and grand touring classes, put the ALMS in position to continue its climb in popularity among fans, sponsors and media outlets worldwide.

The American Le Mans Series
The American Le Mans Series is a series of sports car endurance racing events patterned after the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. ALMS events feature multi-class racing among the world's most elite sports car racing drivers and teams. The starting lineup for every event includes both factory and privateer racing teams competing for overall wins as well as wins in one of four classes of competition.

Porsche Cars North America, Inc. (PCNA)
Porsche Cars North America, Inc. (PCNA), based in Atlanta, Ga., and its subsidiary, Porsche Cars Canada, Ltd., are the exclusive importers of Porsche 911, Boxster and Carrera GT sports cars and Cayenne sport utility vehicles for the United States and Canada. A wholly owned, indirect subsidiary of Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, PCNA employs approximately 300 people who provide Porsche vehicles, parts, service, marketing and training for its 207 U.S. and Canadian dealers. They, in turn, provide Porsche owners with best-in-class service.

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