Laguna Seca: Porsche Motorsport preview

PORSCHE LMP2, GT2 TEAMS STRIVE TO FINISH SUCCESSFUL AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES SEASONS; IMSA GT3 CHAMPIONSHIP, PORSCHES IN WORLD CHALLENGE ALSO ON SCHEDULE AT LAGUNA SECA FINALE MONTEREY, Calif. - October 16 - Driver championship strategy will be...

PORSCHE LMP2, GT2 TEAMS STRIVE TO FINISH SUCCESSFUL AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES SEASONS; IMSA GT3 CHAMPIONSHIP, PORSCHES IN WORLD CHALLENGE ALSO ON SCHEDULE AT LAGUNA SECA FINALE

MONTEREY, Calif. - October 16 - Driver championship strategy will be front and center for the two Porsche RS Spyder LMP2 prototypes, prepared by Penske Motorsports, this weekend at the Monterey Sports Car Championship at Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway on Saturday, October 21.

The four hour event, to be telecast in prime time Saturday night on The SPEED channel (8:00 PM Eastern), is the final event of the 2006 American Le Mans Series.

Penske Motorsports has already claimed the team championship, and Porsche has clinched the chassis and engine manufacturing titles, but RS Spyder drivers Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr will strive to bring home the drivers crown for themselves and their team.

Maassen and Luhr, long-time driving partners until they were split up three events ago to amortize Penske and Porsche's chance to win the title, are only four points apart, and Maassen is 15 points ahead of his nearest Lola competitors. The ideal finish would be for Luhr to win the class in the #7 RS Spyder - with co-driver Romain Dumas - and Maassen to finish second in the #6 RS Spyder - with co-driver Timo Bernhard. That would put Maassen and Luhr in a tie for the drivers championship - something they have aimed for all year.

But, on the racetrack, it is hard to choreograph a specific one-two finish, and a win by Maassen, or a third-place by Luhr, could ruin that ideal result. For the rival Lola drivers to overtake the Porsche pilots for the title, both Porsches would have to break with less than 70 percent of the laps completed - scoring no points, and the Lola would have finish in fourth place or better.

The Porsche RS Spyder has won seven of the ten races it has entered going back to this Laguna Seca event last year - the car's debut - when Maassen and Luhr co-drove it to a flawless win in the four-hour daylight-to-dusk race. This year, the six wins in nine tries have included a one-two overall finish at Mid-Ohio, and class wins at Lime Rock, Salt Lake City, Road America, Mosport Park and, most recently, at the Petit Le Mans event at Road Atlanta.

Last week, Penske Motorsports and Porsche Motorsport announced the organizations will again enter and run two LMP2 Porsche RS Spyders - revised models introduced last month at the Paris Auto Show - in the 2007 American Le Mans Series.

GT2: Closer Than Ever

The driver and team championships in GT2 are even tighter than in LMP2.

Driver of the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, Johannes van Overbeek, leads defending champion Jorg Bergmeister of Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Porsche by 4 points after nine rounds. There are all sorts of points possibilities.

If Bergmeister and co-driver Patrick Long win while van Overbeek and co-driver Wolf Henzler finish second, then Bergmeister will repeat as champion on the basis of most wins (his four versus van Overbeek's one even though the points would be tied). If Bergmeister finishes anywhere else, van Overbeek would win the championship as long as his No. 45 Porsche finishes one spot behind the Bergmeister's No. 31 entry. If Bergmeister finishes fourth or better and two spots ahead of van Overbeek, then Jorg will be champion.

Porsche has already clinched the manufacturers championship - its seventh in the eight-year history of the American Le Mans Series.

In the GT2 team standings, Risi Competizione (Ferrari) leads by 6 points over Flying Lizard and 10 points over Petersen/White Lightning. If one of the Risi Ferraris finishes first or second, it clinches the team title no matter where the Porsches finish. Flying Lizard can win the team title with a victory and third-place finish by Risi or a runner-up finish by the Lizards and fifth-place Risi result.

For Petersen/White Lightning to win its second straight championship, it must win the race plus have Risi finish fourth or worse.

IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge - A record-setting year

With entries averaging more than 40 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars per race over a seven-race season, the 2006 IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge presented by Michelin comes to a close on Sunday, October 22, at Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway.

Dino Loles has already clinched the class championship in his Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (type 996), while Nathan Swartzbaugh holds onto an eight-point lead in the 911 GT3 Cup (type 997) class going into the last event. Only Dino Steiner, who has a second, two thirds, and three fourths - but no wins - has a chance to catch Nathan for the title. Swartzbaugh has one win to his credit (Mosport).

SPEED World Challenge - Another chance for a title

Jon Groom Racing's Lawson Aschenbach, driving the AXA Financial Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, has a seven point lead over his nearest competitor going into the SCCA SPEED World Challenge event at Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway on Sunday, October 22. Aschenbach will be trying to hold off a Cadillac and Corvette entry to win the championship.

Porsche is tied for second place with Cadillac in the manufacturers chase - five points behind Dodge.

-credit: porsche motorsport

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Sascha Maassen , Lucas Luhr , Dino Steiner , Lawson Aschenbach , Jörg Bergmeister , Timo Bernhard , Patrick Long , Romain Dumas , Jon Groom , Wolf Henzler , Dino Loles , Nathan Swartzbaugh
Teams Risi Competizione , Flying Lizard Motorsports