PORSCHE ?911 RACE CARS, DRIVERS, TEAMS LOOK FOR CHAMPIONSHIP CROWNS AT SPORTS CAR EVENT AT LAGUNA SECA - SCCA, ALMS, IMSA TITLES ON THE LINE
MONTEREY, Calif. - October 7 - The Monterey Sports Car Championship at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will give fans good insight as where the sports car market is in this country, with Porsche, BMW, Corvette, Ferrari, Acura, Viper, Mustang, and even Mercedes battling in three different race series for year-end championships.
And Porsche is in the thick of all three battles, including the American Le Mans Series' GT2 class, where the battle between Corvettes, Ferraris, BMWs, and Porsches has been fierce since the green flag dropped at Sebring in March.
The race gets the green flag at 5:45 pm Eastern Daylight Time on Saturday, October 10, and fans can follow live timing and scoring as well as American Le Mans Series Radio Web streaming audio at www.americanlemans.com. ?In the USA, it will be televised tape delayed on SPEED TV, starting on Sunday October 11 at 2:30 pm Eastern time. ?In ?Europe, the race will be tape-delayed on MotorsTV, starting on Sunday October 18 at 17.00h UK/18.00h CET. Fans can also listen to Flying Lizard team radio on race day and read race reports on the team blog at www.lizardms.com as well as follow the team on Twitter @FlyingLizard_MS or receive text updates on their mobile phone by texting FLMS to 30364.
The GT2 drivers' championship will be decided this weekend on 11-turn, 2.238-mile course that is Laguna Seca. Porsche has already claimed the GT2 manufacturers' championship two weeks ago in the Petit Le Mans event at Road Atlanta, but Porsche factory drivers Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA) are now determined to cap a phenomenal season with the drivers title.
At the wheel of their #45 Flying Lizard Motorsports 911 GT3 RSR, the pair claimed five straight wins in the first six races and built up a comfortable points' lead. Since then, however, others, including Ferrari, BMW and Corvette have all found their way to the top step of the podium, and the Lizard pair now holds a 19-point advantage over their Ferrari opponents. But even if the Ferrari wins the race, a tenth place finish (with enough laps to be eligible to score points - 70 percent of the winning car overall) would be enough for the Porsche pilots to claim the title. With third place worth 18 points, if the Ferrari finishes third or worse, the No. 45 will win the championship, even if they do not finish the race or score any points.
"I know you should never be too sure of your position, but it really should be possible here, particularly because Laguna Seca suits us much better than the last three tracks," said a confident Joerg Bergmeister.
For Joerg, this would mark his fourth championship title in the race series featuring the world's fastest sports cars after 2005, 2006 and 2008. On the challenging circuit with its legendary corkscrew corner, which winds downwards from the highest point of the track, Bergmeister and Patrick Long have already claimed victory in 2005 to secure the championship title. Joerg and Patrick also won a Grand-Am race here - the only victory in 2007 for the Alex Job Racing Ruby Tuesday Porsche Riley DP racer.
"I hope the same thing happens this year," says Bergmeister. His teammate went on to reveal the strategy that should safeguard the title: "We will do everything in our power to keep out of trouble."
Flying Lizard chief strategist Thomas Blam commented, The championship has been a moving target for us this year. We had a very strong first half of the season and built a good points margin, but we've seen that lead erode over the last several races. The pressure is on: in a four-hour race at a track like Laguna Seca, a lot can happen. We have to stay focused on putting together a strong car and finishing; we don't want to take any chances with traffic. We've been fast at Laguna in the past and had fast cars at Petit in both the wet and the dry, so we expect that we'll be on the pace on Saturday."
Flying Lizard Motorsports, which could again win the team championship at Laguna Seca, fields a second 911 GT3 RSR with pilots Johannes van Overbeek (USA) and Seth Neiman (USA). Porsche works driver Wolf Henzler (Germany), who recently finished third at Petit Le Mans to clinch the manufacturers title for Porsche, competes with his compatriot Pierre Ehret in the #87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche, while Team Falken Tire will enter their third event of the season in a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR with Bryan Sellers and Dominic Cicero (both USA) sharing the driving duties.
In the LMP2 class, Klaus Graf (Germany) and Greg Pickett (USA) will attempt to bring home their fourth consecutive podium result with the Porsche RS Spyder. The Team Cytosport Muscle Milk team, which has fielded the RS Spyder from Weissach in a successful comeback, received praise from Porsche's head of motorsport Hartmut Kristen:
"The team has very quickly familiarized itself with the RS Spyder and has achieved excellent results. We would be delighted if they would return in 2010 to contest the new ALMS/IMSA LMP class," said Kristen, referring to the yet-to-be-announced rules which will combine LMP1 and LMP2 in to a single prototype class for next year in the American Le Mans Series.
In the American Le Mans Series Challenge class, for the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars running in the Patron GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama series, Melanie and Martin Snow (USA), both still in contention to win individual awards in the Patron series, will drive together in their Snow Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, looking for their fourth win in the ALMS Challenge class. They are 24 points ahead of Wesley Hoagland and Bob Faieta, who have won one event in their Gruppe Orange Porsche. ?Guy Cosmo and John Baker, in their Orbit Racing Porsche, have been on the pole in both events they have entered, and will be looking for their first win.
Patron GT3 Challenge by Yokohama
In the last two seasons of the Patr?n GT3 Challenge by Yokohama Bob Faieta, Tujunga, Calif., has entered the last race of the season with a chance to win the driver's championship. He has won three out of the last four rounds held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, securing the 2007 and 2008 championships.
In 2009 Faieta comes to the Monterey, Calif., track with his biggest point lead of the season, leading Martin Snow, Pleasant Grove, Utah, by 22 points. With 40 points up for grabs this weekend, the championship could go down to the final 75-minute race of the season.
"We're in good shape," Faieta said after winning round 12 at Road Atlanta. "Since we're 22 points ahead we could clinch it in the first race, which would be my ideal scenario and then run for the win in the last race in front of my home crowd. I'm excited!"
Faieta and Snow are far enough ahead that third place Galen Bieker, Burbank, Calif., can't catch them. The same is not true for Bieker, who has series rookie Mitch Pagerey, Deerfield Beach, Fla., 13 points behind him. Darrell Carlisle, McLean, Va., trails Pagerey by three points.
The Gold Cup championship, for 2005-2007 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, will also come down to the final race of the season. Melanie Snow, Pleasant Grove, Utah, has led the points all year. Brian Wong, Newport Beach, Calif., missed the first two rounds of the season at Sebring and has been playing catch up since then. Wong has won the last seven races, steadily closing in on Snow.
"She's a tough competitor and she's going to fight all the way down to the end," Wong said of Snow. "All in all, I'm excited. A win at Road Atlanta is exactly what we needed going to Laguna. We've got to keep doing this (winning)."
Official practice for the Monterey Sports Car Championships will begin Friday, October 9. Round 13 will take place Saturday, October 10 at 10:25 a.m. The final round will be a 75- minute race Sunday, October 11 at 10:50 a.m. (all times Pacific Daylight).
The Patr?n GT3 Challenge by Yokohama features semi-professional drivers racing head to head in Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars - one of the world's most successful race cars - with sealed motors and transmissions. The latest purpose-built race cars have sealed 420 h.p. engines and six-speed sequential transmissions, providing for close racing where the driver's talents are exemplified.
Porsche Motorsport North America provides technical support for the series with personnel, parts and expertise both away from and at the track.
Michelin Green X Challenge
Porsche is headed for both a team and manufacturers championship in the inaugural Michelin Green X Challenge, a competition that demonstrates the best overall performance and fuel efficiency with the least environmental impact among prototype and GT cars. With points awarded to individual cars, the #45 Flying Lizard Porsche 911 GT3 RSR leads with 94 points (as in golf, the low score wins), while the #44 Lizard Porsche has 108 points and the #87 Farnbacher Loles Porsche has registered 110 points. ?All the other competitors have been eliminated from the season championship, so the winner will be a Porsche.
In the Michelin Green X Challenge manufacturers chase, Porsche is also close to clinching the season title as its team cars have consistently been among the best finishing as well as most efficient cars in the class.
SPEED World Challenge GT
While the ALMS and Patron Challenge drivers are playing tourists in the Monterey Bay area awaiting their Sunday season-ending awards ceremony, the Porsche teams in the Sports Car Club of America's SPEED World Challenge will be back on the Laguna Seca road course to fight it out for both the drivers and manufacturers year-end championships.
The 50-minute race, which features a Formula 1-style standing start, gets the green flag on Sunday, October 11, at 5:45 PM (Eastern Daylight time). ?Fans can follow the race live on www.world-challenge.com.
Tony Rivera, of Missouri City, Texas - last year's IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge Gold Cup champion - has had a great rookie season in his Tax Masters Porsche 911 GT3 Cup racer, and is currently in second place in the points. ?He has an outside shot at the championship, but he must register a win a Laguna combined with a poor finish from points leader Brandon Davis.
Brandon Davis with his Mustang continues to lead the World Challenge GT Drivers' Championship, with 919 points. He is followed by Rivera (857) and Sofronas (805).
Porsche continues to lead in the Manufacturers' Championship Presented by RACER Magazine. Porsche has 58 points, Ford 49, Volvo 41, Chevrolet 40, and Viper 18. Because Porsche drivers Rivera, along with Sonfronas and Dino Crescentini have either won or scored podium finishes at most of the events, Porsche has a good chance to clinch the manufacturers title this weekend.
-credit: porsche motorsport