ATLANTA -- March 3, 2001 -- The new Porsche 911 GT3 RS dominated the damp GT class qualifying session for Sunday's Leather Center Grand Prix of Texas, taking both front row spots in class and out-qualifying the factory BMW M3. Lucas Luhr, the...
ATLANTA -- March 3, 2001 -- The new Porsche 911 GT3 RS dominated the damp GT class qualifying session for Sunday's Leather Center Grand Prix of Texas, taking both front row spots in class and out-qualifying the factory BMW M3.
Lucas Luhr, the German GT driver who now lives in Monoco, took his #23 McKenna Porsche 911 GT3 RS around the 2.324-mile, eight-turn oval/road course at 98.34 miles-per-hour for the pole, with the #22 McKenna Porsche 911 GT3 RS, qualified second by Randy Po bst, of Melbourne, Fla., 1.5 seconds behind. The Lehto/Muller BMW was third, 1.7 seconds off the pace.
"We just took delivery of these cars three weeks ago, and we only had one short test session at Road Atlanta," said Alex Job, who lead the Cort Wagner/Dirk Muller Porsche 911 GT3 R to the first-ever American Le Mans Series GT championship in 1999.
"But much of the development work has been done over the past two years of racing, so we came here ready to run," said Job.
This is Luhr's fourth ALMS GT pole, including his second straight pole at Texas Motor Speedway. Getting the tires up to temperature on the wet track was difficult, but it all came together near the end of the session.
"The track was dry on the banking, but the infield road course was still very wet when qualifying began, so it wasn't until the end when I could turn my fast lap," said Luhr, who started the season by driving with the winning Porsche 911 GT3 RS along with Pobst at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.
Although pleased with his front-row starting position, Pobst said he could improve his lap times.
"I wasn't happy with my performance this afternoon, and think I can find another second or two for the race on Sunday," said Pobst, who will pair with Christian Menzel on Sunday. Luhr will co-drive with 2000 ALMS GT runner-up Sascha Maassen.
Fourth on the grid is the first of the Kelly-Moss Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Rs, with 2000 Le Mans GT pole-sitter Christophe Bouchut, from France, driving the #99 car he will share with Atlanta's Anthony Lazzaro. After the Auberlen/Jonsson BMW, which is fifth sits the #30 White Lightning/Westward Ho Casino Porsche 911 GT3 RS, qualified by Britain's Johnny Mowlem, who will share the driving chores with France's Bob Wollek and team owner Michael Petersen.
Built by Porsche Motorsport in the Research and Development Department at Weissach, the Porsche 911 GT3 RS delivers 420 horsepower from its 3.6-liter normally-aspirated engine. In 1999, its first year of competition, the car finished 1-2 in class at Le M ans, and has won its class in the American Le Mans Series two years in a row. Porsche also won its class with the GT3 R in the Grand American Road Racing series in 2000, and is off to a fast start to defend that title with a 1-2-3 GT finish at the recent Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. More than 70 Porsche 911 GT3 Rs and GT3 RS' have been sold so far worldwide, with almost half of those cars having raced in the U.S.
The new 2001 model of the Porsche 911 has been designated as the Porsche 911 GT3 RS, and is almost identical to the 2000 Porsche 911 GT3 R. The new car has a larger front radiator, a slightly different front spoiler and rear wing, and other minor changes, but remains the same for the major components. Current GT3 R owners can purchase an update kit from Porsche which incorporates all the improvements in the new car.
The Leather Center Grand Prix of Texas will be telecast live on the Speedvision network starting at 1:00 PM local time (2:00 PM Eastern) on Sunday, March 4. Tune in a half-hour early for a pre-race show including highlight from last year. The race will a lso be broadcast live on the Le Mans Radio Network, which can be accessed on the Web at www.americanlemans.com. That same American Le Mans Series web site -- revamped and upgraded for 2001, will also have live timing and scoring during qualifying and the r ace event.
The official Porsche web site -- www.porsche.com -- will have have information on the Leather Center Grand Prix of Texas for all the Porsches entered, and will have stories during and after the race. Porsche web site uses should choose "North America" on the home page when prompted to choose a country, then choose "motorsports," then "news" to find the ALMS updates.
After initial Texas race, the next event for the American Le Mans Series circuit will be the Superflo 12 Hours of Sebring presented by Dodge, which will take place on Saturday, March 17, 2001. As they did a year ago, Speedvision will telecast the Sebring event from flag-to-flag.