MOMO NGT MOTORSPORT, A PORSCHE TEAM READY TO WIN AGAIN!
NGT Motorsport has been one of the leading Porsche racing teams in the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama for many years. NGT Motorsport started amateur club racing with Porsche cars and in only six years team owner Ramez Wahab turned his racing organization into a winning machine. The last two seasons saw NGT Motorsport win the 2010 IMSA GT3 CUP Challenge Gold Cup Championship with driver Henrique Cisneros and also the third place of the Gold Cup Championship with Carlos Kauffmann. NGT moved to the Platinum Cup in 2011 and won the IMSA GT3 team and driver Cup Challenge with Henrique Cisneros. The team also took second in the 2011 IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge Gold Cup with Eduardo Cisneros.
In 2011, NGT Motorsport moved to the highest level of North American endurance racing, the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron. NGT Motorsport ran their first three ALMS races and stunned the ALMS planet by scoring their first podium finish at the first race they entered, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.Thanks to NGT's close relationship with Porsche Motorsport North America and the MOMO sponsorship, MOMO NGT Motorsport will compete in the 2012 American Le Mans Series with two Porsche 997 GT3 Cup cars and will also enter three cars in the 2012 Porsche IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge.
A few days before the 2012 Twelve Hours of Sebring event starts with a two-day test session on Monday, MOMO NGT Motorsport's team owner Ramez Wahab talks about NGT and his expectations for 2012.
When did you start NGT Motorsport?
RW: I started NGT in 2004.
How did you make the transition from amateur racing to one of the best endurance racing teams?
... our engineers have clinched the championship three times in Super Cup and Carrera Cup
RW: Well, to be honest, it happened faster than we would have thought and we had the opportunity and we said okay, let's take it. And obviously we had to adapt to it, hire more professional crew guys, engineers, and buy additional equipment just to make the transition from amateur to pro team.
Who are the key members of NGT Motorsport today?
RW: We have over 20 guys, of course. We have very experienced engineers and crew chiefs. Our engineers, David Fullerton and Konstantin Kotitsas used to work with multiple teams and factory drivers. Konstantin used to work 5 or 6 years in the Porsche Super Cup and Carrera Cup in Europe and also a lot of endurance racing all over the world. He works a lot with the young guns; only Porsche drivers, as I said, and our engineers have clinched the championship three times in Super Cup and Carrera Cup.
When did you decide to race Porsche?
RW: I decided to race Porsche, I think when I was 4 years old! It was a passion always in my life. I remember when I saw my first Porsche I was shaking. I knew Porsche was my favorite car. I knew one day I would one day I would be racing a Porsche. It's quite funny because even as a kid I knew it was going to happen one day and it happened.
How important it is for NGT to be linked to a manufacturer like Porsche?
RW: Very important, of course because we have a very close relationship with Porsche Motorsports North America and even with Porsche back home in Germany and we were a big customer of theirs and they were very supportive of us which is very, very important for a team like us, obviously to get all the support from the factory.
How did you feel when you won the Porsche IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge championship last year?
RW: We won it 2 years in a row. We won it in 2010 and in 2011. When we clinched the championship it didn't sink in right away. Obviously in my business everyone's dream is to win a championship and we achieved it twice and it took awhile to sink in to be honest, to really realize that we won the championship.
What is your program for 2012?
RW: In 2012 we're going to be running two cars full season in the ALMS GTC Class and we're going to run up to five cars in the Porsche IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama series which are spec races, actually.
How important was it for your team to run in the Rolex 24 At Daytona this year?
RW: Very important of course, and especially, it was perfect timing. It was their 50th anniversary and we just got the sponsorship with MOMO so it was just perfect timing and very, very important for us, obviously.
It's very good for MOMO and for NGT Motorsport.
You raced in three ALMS races last year in the GTC class and scored three podium finishes including 3rd place at the Twelve Hours of Sebring, proving the strength and professionalism of NGT Motorsport. What did this ALMS program bring to NGT?
RW: Well, we learned a lot, of course. We got a lot out of it. In two of the three races last year in ALMS we were leading the race even, we got the track record, even and it was a new era for us just to get used to the new rules, new tracks and the officials, etc. and I think we adapted pretty quickly to ALMS racing.
You now have a sponsor, MOMO, how proud are you to carry the name and colors of one of the most recognized sponsors in endurance racing?
RW: Oh, extremely, of course. That's a very big statement. It's very good for MOMO and for NGT Motorsport, obviously, to be backed up by such a big and strong name like MOMO.
What are your expectations for the 2012 Twelve Hours of Sebring and the ALMS season?
RW: Well, last year our 12 Hour race in Sebring we showed the speed right out of the box, we got a track record right away, and we were leading the race, we had very, good times and ended third actually in that race. We have very high expectations for this year's Sebring race. We have a lot of experience at Sebring. It's one of our home tracks, actually and we're looking forward to the 2012 Mobil1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
And the ALMS Season?
RW: We can't wait to prove ourselves. It's a step up for us. We clinched the championship twice in the GT car challenge and the next step will be ALMS GTC and that's what we're doing.
Tell us about your drivers' line-up for Sebring and the season.
RW: We are going to have 2 Porsche 997 GT3 Cup cars in the GTC class as I mentioned for the ALMS full season. It's going to be car #30. It is going to be driven by Henrique Cisneros, Carlos Kauffmann and Sean Edwards, and we are going to have car #031. It is going to be driven by father and son, Angel Andres Benitez Jr., Angel Rafael Benitez Sr. and Nicki Thiim.
The 2012 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón begins with the 60th Anniversary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida on Saturday, March 17. The race is set for 10:30 a.m. ET and will be broadcast March 18 on ABC and shown live on ESPN3 and ALMS.com.