Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs Second and Fourth in ALMS Long Beach GT Qualifying; Graf Puts RS Spyder Fifth in LMP; Bleekemolen Fastest in Porsche 911 GT3 Cup LONG BEACH, Calif - April 16 - Wolf Hanzler (Germany) started off in this morning's...
Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs Second and Fourth in ALMS Long Beach GT Qualifying; Graf Puts RS Spyder Fifth in LMP; Bleekemolen Fastest in Porsche 911 GT3 Cup
LONG BEACH, Calif - April 16 - Wolf Hanzler (Germany) started off in this morning's practice with some understeer issues in his Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, and the team's efforts were interrupted by six red flags during the session, but he met the challenge of the tough American Le Mans Series GT qualifying stint by taking a front-row position for tomorrow's race through the streets of Long Beach.
Henzler, who qualified second in the only Falken Tire-shod car in the field, will drive with Bryan Sellers (USA) in Saturday's event. Patrick Long, in the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR that he will share with Joerg Bergmeister (Germany), was fourth, splitting the two factory Corvettes, while Darren Law (USA) put second Flying Lizard Porsche, which he will drive with Seth Neiman (USA), tenth on the grid.
The American Le Mans Series at Long Beach race, which takes the green flag at 7:40 PM Eastern Daylight Time on Saturday, April 18, will be telecast at 8:00 PM - 10:00 PM EDT on SPEED TV, and will last 100 minutes - a special length for TV. Live scoring and American Le Mans Radio commentary are available at www.americanlemans.com.
"We are really happy to be on the front row of the GT grid, as starting position at the tight street course is very important. We didn't get out until halfway through the session because of a tech inspection issue, but the Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR was quick as soon as it went on the track. I hit a lot of traffic in the first two laps getting the tires up to temperature, but with time being short, I realized I better hurry up and turn my fastest lap. I just missed the wall at turn #8 on lap three, but then had my fast trip around the course on lap four. I was on the limit, and could not have caught the Ferrari this afternoon. After one more lap, we decided to bring the car in. Falken Tire is located in Southern California, and we are pleased to have such a good starting position in front of the company people attending the race. We are also pleased to be the fastest Porsche in qualifying - a good sign for tomorrow's race," said Henzler.
"For the race tomorrow, we just want to run clean. You have to be really careful here with all the traffic. We have 36 cars in the race, so, to make it through traffic with no mistakes is going to be one of the big keys. The other key strategy is to play the yellow flags correctly," Henzler said.
Patrick Long, who qualifying session was spoiled last year by slower traffic, was keenly aware of the number of record number of cars on the course this year, and knows that it will be a significant factor for tomorrow's event.
"The trick for qualifying at Long Beach, especially with all these cars, is to get a clear lap, but, unfortunately, I didn't get a clear lap until the end, and, at that point, my tires were past their best. So, it is just a matter of right place and the right time or wrong place at the wrong time. But, it's a long race and we're still up there ahead of the BMWs and one of the Corvettes. It's part of street course qualifying - getting a clear track. I'm sure there were a lot of guys who had the same problem. It's clear that one of the themes for tomorrow's race will be traffic management," said Long.
Klaus Graf (Germany) was fourth on the LMP grid in his Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder in the car he will share with team owner Greg Pickett. Klaus had a good battle with Mazda's Chris Dyson for third spot, losing out on the last lap by only one-tenth of a second.
In the GT Challenge class, which pits ten Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars against each other, Jeroen Bleekemolen (Netherlands), who was fastest in this morning's practice session in the new Black Swan Racing Porsche he will share with owner Tim Pappas, was also fastest in qualifying, just ahead of the TRG Porsche qualified by Andy Lally for his co-driver Henri Richard. Lally was a last minute replacement for Scotsman Mark Thomas, who could not make it to the event.