DUMAS/BERNHARD PORSCHE RS SPYDER LEADS FOR HALF OF HOUSTON ALMS RACE BEFORE LATE DNF; ALEX JOB PORSCHE SCORES 50TH PROFESSIONAL WIN HOUSTON, Texas - May 13 - The Romain Dumas/Timo Bernhard Penske Porsche RS Spyder made American Le Mans Series ...
DUMAS/BERNHARD PORSCHE RS SPYDER LEADS FOR HALF OF HOUSTON ALMS RACE BEFORE LATE DNF; ALEX JOB PORSCHE SCORES 50TH PROFESSIONAL WIN
HOUSTON, Texas - May 13 - The Romain Dumas/Timo Bernhard Penske Porsche RS Spyder made American Le Mans Series history for Porsche Saturday night by taking the overall race lead for the first time early in the Lone Star Grand Prix of Houston. It then held the lead for 72 of the 143 laps before a late-race drivetrain problem sidelined the car.
As the most successful manufacturer in American Le Mans Series history with 59 GT, GT1 and LMP2 class wins, Porsche had never led an ALMS race until lap #13 at Houston, when Dumas passed James Weaver's pole-winning Lola to take the overall race lead. He held the top spot for the next 50 laps, outdistancing both the Lola and the McNish/Capello Audi R8. After a series of pit stops, Bernhard re-captured the lead from the more powerful LMP1 cars for 22 more laps until the Porsche had to pit to replace the battery. The car was still in contention when it came in only eight laps later with terminal drivetrain problems.
The team Penske Motorsports Porsche RS Spyder of Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr fell behind when the Audi hit the car from the rear causing a flat tire on lap six. It moved all the way up to second place before a drivetrain problem ended its run with only 20 minutes left in the race. Although Maassen/Luhr were ten laps ahead in class at that moment, there was too much time remaining, and the Halliday/Field Lola overtook them for the class win. Sascha and Lucas finished third in class and Dumas/Bernhard were fourth, picking up valuable championship points.
In the GT2 class, the Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, driven by Mike Roickenfeller and Klaus Graf, scored a one-lap victory over the Flying Lizard Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Johannes van Overbeek and Wolf Henzler to score Alex Job's 50th professional win.
It was a difficult race, especially for Rockenfeller, who started at the rear of the field by rule after Graf spun the car in qualifying, forcing the team to change tires before the start of the race. Rockenfeller, who has a 24 Hours of Le Mans GT2 win in his portfolio, but had never been on the top step of the American Le Mans Series, picked his way through the GT2 field, finally overtaking the favored Ferrari 430 just before the end of his one hour and 25-minute stint. Graf took over and lengthened the lead as the Ferrari faded to third place.
Wolf Henzler, who was hired by the Flying Lizard team just before the Houston event, took the car from van Overbeek in fourth place and scored the team's second straight runner-up finish, putting van Overbeek in the lead in the GT2 class points. The Ferrari was third, and defending class champions, the Petersen/White Lightning Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Jorg Bergmeister/Patrick Long, was fourth as a broken shock caused the car to handle badly during the last half of the race.