Mid-Ohio: Porsche preview

PORSCHE RS SPYDER, GT3 RSR, IMSA GT3 CUP AND WORLD CHALLENGE TEAMS SHARE SPOTLIGHT WITH INDY CARS AT HISTORIC MID-OHIO SPORTS CAR COURSE AND ON CBS-TV More than 50 Porches to do battle this weekend With the 2.25-mile, 13-turn Mid-Ohio Sports Car...

PORSCHE RS SPYDER, GT3 RSR, IMSA GT3 CUP AND WORLD CHALLENGE TEAMS SHARE SPOTLIGHT WITH INDY CARS AT HISTORIC MID-OHIO SPORTS CAR COURSE AND ON CBS-TV
More than 50 Porches to do battle this weekend

With the 2.25-mile, 13-turn Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course -- scene of many of Porsche's racing successes in America as a backdrop - more than 50 Porsche RS Spyder American Le Mans Series prototypes, Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs, and Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race cars will do battle against their rivals at the Acura Sports Car Challenge this weekend.

The American Le Mans Series feature race will begin on Saturday, July 21, at 3:15 PM EDT, and last two hours and 45 minutes. That race will be telecast on a tape-delayed basis on Sunday, July 22, at 2:00 EDT on CBS-TV.

The ALMS event features the very successful Porsche RS Spyder prototype, which won seven of the ten races it entered in 2006 to win both the drivers and manufacturers LMP2 class championship, and has won five of the six events -- including four races overall -- in 2007 to lead both categories by a wide margin. In the GT2 class for smaller displacement, production-based sports cars, the Porsche 911 GT3 R/RS/RSR has won its class for either drivers of manufacturers championship (or both) seven of the eight years the series has existed, and leads the drivers championship so far in 2007.

Also on the track this weekend are the series-leading Porsche 911 GT3 Cup racers, currently leading the favored Cadillac factory teams in the SCCA SPEED World Challenge Series, with their race set to go on Sunday, July 22, at 4:15 PM EDT -- TV coverage on Speed TV on Saturday, July 28 at 4:00 PM EDT). Finally, the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge presented by Michelin, fresh from their appearance in conjunction with Formula 1 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, will pit 32 matched Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars against each other in a 45-minute sprint race on Saturday, July 21, at 1:35 PM EDT.

"It will be a challenging weekend for our staff as we are equipped to provide the Porsche race customer with parts and engineering series for cars which have to meet different specifications for different sets of rules," said Uwe Brettel, president of Porsche Motorsport North America -- the Santa Ana, California-based company which sells and services Porsche race cars for the United States and Canada.

"But, for the Porsche enthusiast, what could be better? Prototypes battling the Honda-powered Acuras, 911s racing against Corvettes, Vipers, Ferraris, Cadillacs, and matched 911s showcasing up-and-coming talent in an all-out sprint race -- it should be a great weekend for Porsche. Mid-Ohio has been an important part of Porsche racing history in the United States, from the Porsche 917 in the Can-Am to last year's important first RS Spyder win in ALMS," said Brettel.

For the seventh round of American Le Mans Series, the Penske Porsche RS Spyders return to the race track where Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France) last year claimed their first class win and first overall victory with the Weissach-developed and built prototypes.

This season, the 3.4-liter, V-8 powered RS Spyders will have four places on the grid, with the #6 Penske Porsche of Sascha Maassen (Germany) and Ryan Briscoe (Australia -- with two overall wins - Salt Lake City and Lime Rock - to their credit -- and LMP2 points leaders Timo Bernhard and Romains Dumas, the overall winners from Long Beach and Houston, sharing the #7 Penske Porsche RS Spyder.

The Porsche-supported customer team from Dyson Racing will also challenge Mid-Ohio course with two RS Spyders. Andy Wallace (Great Britain) and Butch Leitzinger (USA) take up the race at the wheel of the #16 car. Sharing driving duties in the RS Spyder with starting number 20 are Chris Dyson (USA) and Guy Smith (Great Britain), who put the Dyson Porsche on the front row of the grid for the first time two weeks ago at Lime Rock.

"The circuit is very demanding and a huge challenge for the drivers," says Timo Bernhard. Romain Dumas, who planted their RS Spyder on pole position at Lime Rock, added: "It's particularly difficult to find the quickest line over the many crests and sometimes almost blind corners. Last year we coped very well and we should be able to do it again this year."

The successful first half of the season for the RS Spyder is excellent motivation. Following a class victory in St. Petersburg came four consecutive overall wins against the more powerful LMP1 class vehicles. In response to this unique winning streak, the International Motor Sports Association, as the governing body of the American Le Mans Series, changed the technical regulations it started the year with by ruling that all LMP2-class vehicles must operate with five-percent smaller intake air restrictors. Accordingly, the power of the RS Spyder is reduced by five percent to 478 hp.

On the Mid-Ohio track with its long straights and fast corners, this loss of power will very likely have a stronger effect than on the narrow Lime Rock circuit.

"Without doubt, the engine performance plays a larger role that it did at Lime rock -- the first race with the new restrictions - but we'll try to compensate as much as possible for this handicap by making further improvements to other areas," said worldwide head of Porsche Mtorsport, Hartmut Kristen, whose mid-season assessment is still positive.

"We have achieved a great deal more than expected against the strong competition both overall and in the LMP2 class. Our objective for the season is to win the LMP2 class title, which is the most competitive category by far in the American Le Mans Series. We are well on the way to doing this," he said.

In the GT2 class for production-based sports cars, Porsche gained its first win of the 2007 season at Lime Rock two weeks ago after Ferrari has scored close victories in the first five rounds of the series. Racing for Flying Lizard Motorsports, Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) with his team mate Johannes van Overbeek (USA) claimed their first victory this season with their #45 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. Their Flying Lizard teammates Seth Neiman (USA) and Lonnie Pechnik (USA) are entered in the #44 Porsche.

With good chances for class victory at their home race, Rahal Letterman Racing compete with drivers Ralf Kelleners (Germany) and Tom Milner (USA), who took home second from Lime Rock, as well as Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Robin Liddell (Great Britain) in Tafel Racing's 911 GT3 RSR. The second Tafel Porsche will be driven by Dominik Farnbacher *Germany) and team owner Jim Tafel (USA). Also coming off its best race of the season at Lime Rock is the rookie Team Trans Sport Racing Porsche piloted by Terry Borcheller (USA) and team owner Tim Pappas (USA).

-credit: porsche motorsport

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About this article
Series ALMS , IMSA Others , PWC
Drivers Andy Wallace , Guy Smith , Butch Leitzinger , Ralf Kelleners , Robin Liddell , Sascha Maassen , Terry Borcheller , Timo Bernhard , Tim Pappas , Johannes van Overbeek , Ryan Briscoe , Romain Dumas , Seth Neiman , Lonnie Pechnik , Wolf Henzler , Jim Tafel , Dominik Farnbacher , Chris Dyson
Teams Dyson Racing , Flying Lizard Motorsports