Porsche looks to climb into championship chase at Laguna Seca

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Porsche Motorsport

WEC Success Motivates U.S. Porsche 911 GT3 RSR Teams for ALMS Monterey Event

#11 JDX Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup: Chris Cumming, Michael Valiante
#11 JDX Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup: Chris Cumming, Michael Valiante

Photo by: Bob Heathcote

Monterey, Calif. – May 10 -- Buoyed by the dramatic World Endurance Championship Win by Porsche customer teams in Europe last weekend, U.S. Porsche 911 GT3 RSR teams look to climb back in the championship chase at this weekend’s American Le Mans Series Monterey by Patron six-hour endurance race on Saturday, May 12, at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

The trademark of this 2.238-mile, 11-turn circuit is the legendary corkscrew series of turns which winds steeply downhill from the highest point of the track. A truly daunting combination, the corkscrew has confounded both auto and motorcycle races for decades. The track, located on the Monterey/Salinas line, a two hour drive south from San Francisco, is just minutes from the area immortalized in John Steinbeck’s 1945 novel “Cannery Row”.

Last Saturday in Belgium, the 2012 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR scored its first big international win as, in a nerve-racking cliff-hanger finale, Porsche works drivers Marc Lieb (Germany) and Richard Lietz (Austria) of the Felbermayr-Proton squad won the GTE Pro class at the six hour race in Spa-Francorchamps.

Porsche factory racers Jörg Bergmeister (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA), who won in Laguna Seca in 2005, 2009 and 2010, contest the fiercely- competitive GT class with the new Porsche 911 GT3 RSR fielded by Flying Lizard Motorsports. Sharing driving duties in the second Flying Lizard Motorsports vehicle are Porsche works driver Marco Holzer (Germany) and the American owner of the squad Seth Neiman. Driving the Team Falken Tire 911 is Porsche factory pilot Wolf Henzler (Germany) with Bryan Sellers (USA). Sascha Maassen (Germany) and Bryce Miller (USA) team up in the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Paul Miller Racing, which currently has the most points among the Porsche teams after two event.

Hartmut Kristen, head of Porsche Motorsport worldwide, is optimistic of about the Porsche chances this weekend at Laguna and the 911 GT3 RSR has been updated since the last race.

“In very constructive talks with IMSA in consultation with ACO/FIA, we were able to reach an amendment in the Balance of Performance handicapping system for the 911 GT3 RSR. This involves a new front splitter and a modified rear-wing to generate more down force. The resulting increase in drag will be compensated by a larger restrictor and hence a slight increase in power output. I’m assuming that these measures will close the gap significantly between the RSR and the competition on this challenging track,” he said.

As the most successful manufacturer at the American Le Mans Series races in Laguna Seca, Porsche has secured seven GT victories since 1999. Three of those wins alone went to Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long. They won in 2005, 2009 and 2010 with the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR and secured the championship titles in each of these years. The Porsche RS Spyder celebrated its race debut in 2005 at Laguna Seca with a victory in the LMP2 class. The sports prototype, developed and built in Weissach, yielded further class wins on this circuit near Monterey in 2006 and 2007.

The Porsche factory drivers are ready for this race, and ready to put a dent in the early-season lead built up by BMW, Corvette and Ferrari.

“Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is one of the most beautiful circuits on the American Le Mans Series calendar – and one of the coolest. The corkscrew is the greatest challenge obviously, but you shouldn’t underestimate the other corners either. For our California-based team, Laguna Seca is the home race, and for me too really. My wife comes from San Francisco. At this race my in-laws and many of our friends always come to watch. So of course I want to give them a good show,” said Bergmeister.

“This track suits us. We’ve won here three times already. So the race is at exactly the right time for us to get into gear for the championship and slash the gap to the leaders with a good result. I only hope that the rule-makers help by giving us a fair chance,” said Long.

“I don’t have great memories here, unfortunately. Last year our car was shunted from the side by another competitor and we were forced to retire. I hope this doesn’t happen to us again. The circuit is in a lovely setting and is very demanding for drivers. Everyone loves to compete here. The race runs over six hours which suits me just fine. As far as I’m concerned, it can’t be long enough,” said Henzler.

“This will be only my second start in Laguna Seca. I like the track. It’s really tough and very spectacular, if nothing else due to the Corkscrew. You’re almost always guaranteed an exciting race. The thing that makes it even trickier is the sand that sometimes blows onto the track from the dunes. You have to take particular care. Apart from that, Laguna Seca is a long race and there’s a lot of action happening,” said Holzer.

“This is a real chance for Bryce and I to increase our points lead with a strong finish for Paul Miller Racing. Our Porsche and the Dunlop tires are working together well after two races, and both of us like this track, but there are lots of place to get in trouble here. If we run a clean race, I am confident we can finish among the leaders,” said Maassen.

The GTC class has become a battle between three teams, with the points- leading Green Hornet Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car of Peter LaSaffre and Daimien Faulkner joined for this longer race by Dutchman Sebastiaan Bleekemolen. In hot pursuit will be the WeatherTech Alex Job Racing Porsche of Cooper MacNeil, who will have veteran GT racer Anthony Lazzaro as his partner since regular co-driver Leh Keen has another racing commitment this weekend (Grand-Am in NJ). The JDX Porsche racing team, with Chris Cumming and Matthew Marsh, currently in third place in the standings, has added former Porsche junior factory driver Martin Ragginger to its roster for this six-hour event.

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Series ALMS
Tags ajr, bergmeister, flying lizard, gt3, long, long flying lizard, miller, porsche, trg

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