DETROIT GRAND PRIX STREET COURSE ACTS MORE LIKE A PERMENENT COURSE FOR RACE CAR SET-UP; PORSCHE LMP2 AND GT2 TEAMS LOOK FOR SUCCESS AT BELLE ISLE ON SATURDAY Having already clinched the team championship in LMP2, Porsche entries in both the ...
DETROIT GRAND PRIX STREET COURSE ACTS MORE LIKE A PERMENENT COURSE FOR RACE CAR SET-UP; PORSCHE LMP2 AND GT2 TEAMS LOOK FOR SUCCESS AT BELLE ISLE ON SATURDAY
Having already clinched the team championship in LMP2, Porsche entries in both the prototype and production-based classes hope to use the fast Detroit street circuit at Belle Isle to pursue remaining titles for the 2007 American Le Mans Series championship.
Uwe Brettel, president of Porsche Motorsport North America, considers 2007 a break-out year for Porsche and the American Le Mans Series because of the quality of racing the fans have seen at the circuits and on television.
"It looks like we will win the drivers, engine, and chassis manufacturers championship in LMP2, but it is most important that the fans have seen quality entries, close racing, and interesting story lines that will convince them to continue to watch the series in person and on television. In LMP2, we could not have asked for a better season, not only winning in class, but overall with the Porsche RS Spyder, while the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR and the Ferrari 430 competition has yielded some of the best racing of all time in GT2," said Brettel.
The Detroit Sports Car Challenge presented by Bosch, Round 10 of the 2007 American Le Mans Series, is set for 3: 15 p.m. ET on Saturday, September 1 from the Belle Isle circuit in Detroit. Coverage of the Series' first visit to Detroit will be aired on SPEED from 9:30 PM. ET on Saturday to 12:30 AM Sunday. XM Satellite Radio will air the American Le Mans Radio broadcast from noon to 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, September 2 on XM channels 144 and 145. Live timing and scoring, as well as radio commentary, will be available all weekend on www.americanlemans.com
As for the course this weekend at Belle Isle, LMP2 points leader Timo Bernhard (Germany), driver of the number seven Penske Racing Porsche RS Spyder with teammate Romain Dumas (France), doesn't think the lack of long straights will effect the high speeds these cars can run.
"I only know this circuit from a track plan," said Bernhard. "But you can clearly see that there are hardly any straights but loads of very long corners with large radii. This makes things rather difficult to overtake slower vehicles when you are forced to leave the ideal line on a slippery part of the track, but for a non-permanent track, the 14-corner circuit is wide and flowing and allows high cornering speeds."
"There's no really added pressure for Penske for that race. We will try to go up there and try to do what we've been doing all the time. Being organized by Roger Penske, it's going to be a first-class event. There's absolutely no doubt. Ever since I met Roger last year, he's always been talking about the Detroit Grand Prix and all the work he's putting into it. I can't wait and I'm sure it's going to be a massive event," said Ryan Briscoe (Australia), driver of the number six Penske Racing Porsche RS Spyder along with teammate Sascha Maassen (Germany).
After nine rounds of the 2007 American Le Mans Series, the Penske Racing Porsches have scored seven overall victories and have eight LMP2 class wins in a row, including the Bernhard/Dumas win last week at Mosport International Raceway in Canada. Bernhard/Dumas lead the drivers championship with a 21-point advantage over their teammates Maassen/Briscoe (Australia) -- they are the only drivers who have a chance for the championship as the Mazda and Acura drivers have been eliminated. Porsche leads the PMP2 engine and chassis manufacturers competition as well, and could clinch those titles this weekend.
Dyson Racing, the other team entering two Porsche RS Spyders, will field Andy Wallace (Great Britain) and Butch Leitzinger (USA) in the 16 Porsche, and Chris Dyson (USA) and Guy Smith (Great Britain) in the #20 RS Spyder racer.
Chris Dyson, who is also the Dyson Racing team manager, pointed out that the Detroit race gained credibility when he found out who was organizing the race.
"Roger Penske has gotten involved with the event and that really speaks to how well the event should be run. They've basically taken the old Belle Isle layout, which had a huge fan following and was a pretty good layout, and improved it. I was at the Detroit Auto Show in January and there was a pretty positive response. It should be a good event on the schedule," said Dyson.
In the GT2 class for modified production sports cars, defending class champion Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) is determined to reduce the 16-point gap to the leading Ferrari team with his teammate Johannes van Overbeek (USA) at the wheel of their Flying Lizards Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. Ralf Kelleners (Germany) and Tom Milner (USA) hope to continue their podium run in their Rahal letterman Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR as they have finished in the top three in four of the last five events.