PORSCHE SECURES LMP2 AND GT2 MANUFACTURERS TITLES WITH KEY PERFORMANCES BY PENSKE RACING, FLYING LIZARD MOTORSPORTS AT LAGUNA SECA FINALE
ATLANTA - October 18 - Porsche entered today's Monterey Sports Car Challenge, the final round of the 2008 American Le Mans Series, with the LMP2 prototype drivers championship and the GT2 production-based drivers championship already clinched, but the manufacturers titles in both classes were still up for grabs.
But, when the checked flag fell on the four-hour sports car classic early Saturday evening, a Porsche race team in each class scored a third point finish - good enough for the marquee to win both manufacturers championships.
In a race which featured 13 yellow flags and a racing surface which lost its grip due to excessive gravel on the track from the many racing incidents, the 2007 and 2008 LMP2 drivers champions, Romain Dumas (France) and Timo Bernhard (Germany), overcame an off- track incident of their own to guide their Penske Porsche RS Spyder to a third-place finish - just high enough to edge Acura by a single point in the final standings. Porsche ended up with 214 points, and Acura, with its one-two finish at Laguna, finished second with 213. Penske Racing had previously clinched their third straight LMP2 team title,
In the production-based GT2 class, Porsche had a more comfortable lead of 15 points going into the last event, but a strong contingent of Ferraris threatened to overcome those points with a sweep of the top position in the four-hour finale. But the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Patrick Pilet (France)/Johannes van Overbeek (USA) finished fourth in class to seal the manufacturers championship, 220 - 215. Originally, Dirk Werner (Germany)/Bryce Miller (USA) in the Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR had finished third, but the car was excluded at post-race tech for a ride height violation due to a broken right front spring.
Previously, Joerg Bergmeister and Wolf Henzler (both Germany) had clinched the drivers championship in their Flying Lizard Porsche, and Flying Lizard Motorsports had sealed the team title - their first.
Hartmut Kristen, head of Porsche Motorsport, couldn't have planned the season any better for this final result.
"To win all six championships - team, driver, and manufacturers titles in both LMP2 and GT2 - is so much satisfying than any individual race that we could win. This team effort included all our teams, their drivers and crews, our engineers - both at the track and in Germany - and all the Porsche AG, Porsche Motorsport, and Porsche Cars North America employees that helped make this happen. A special thanks must go to Penske Racing and Flying Lizard Motorsports, the teams that produced the drivers championships and contributed heavily to the manufacturers titles," said Kristen.
Paul Ritchie, president of Porsche Motorsport North America, was particularly gratified with the success of the 2008 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR after the 2007, when Ferrari got the best of Porsche for the championship.
"Over the winter, the engineers at Weissach, led by Roland Kussmaul, completely revamped the race car, including a new aerodynamic package and a four-liter engine, and provided us with a great package - and our teams did the rest. A special thanks must go to my staff at Porsche Motorsports North America, who provided critical parts and service support to keep everyone on the track," said Ritchie, whose organization is based in Santa Ana, Calif.
Other LMP2 Porsche finishers included Helio Castroneves/Ryan Briscoe in the Penske Porsche RS Spyder (fourth); Guy Smith/Chris Dyson in the Dyson Racing Porsche RS Spyder (fifth); and Marino Franchitti/Butch Leitzinger in the other Dyson Racing Porsche RS Spyder.
Other GT2 Porsche finishers the Darren Law/Seth Neiman Flying Lizard Porsche (fifth); the Joerg Bergmeister/Wolf Henzler Flying Lizard Porsche (ninth after an early-race accident resulting in a long pit stop for suspension replacement). The Francesco Pastorelli/Nicky Pastorelli/Mark Basseng VICI Racing Porsche did not finish due to an early-race accident.