PORSCHE, PENSKE MOTORSPORTS TO RUN TOGETHER WITH NEW PROTOTYPE IN AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES
Braselton, Ga. - In what American Le Mans Series President and CEO Scott Atherton calls "one of the most significant if not the most significant announcement in our series' history," ALMS and Porsche jointly announced today that Penske Motorsports, Inc. will field a new Porsche prototype racecar in the ALMS.
The history-making unveiling of the new prototype sports car racing program intended for customer race teams was made at Road Atlanta, scene for Sunday's ALMS Sportsbook.com Grand Prix of Atlanta, by Peter Schwarzenbauer, President and CEO of Porsche Cars North America, Inc. (PCNA); Roger Penske, Chairman and CEO of Penske Motorsports, Inc.; and Uwe Brettel, President of Porsche Motorsport North America (PMNA).
"Our American racing customers have made it clear to us that they would like to move up several levels in the ALMS competition, as would we," said Schwarzenbauer. "We believe this new Porsche prototype program will provide the perfect means to do so and will generate added enthusiasm for sports car racing in America, especially with Penske Motorsports as our partner and initial entrant.
"The American Le Mans Series offers manufacturers such as Porsche the opportunity to showcase both their chassis and engine technology," Schwarzenbauer added.
"The announcement today of Porsche's return to prototype racing at the highest level of the sport is the culmination of a process in which we have been involved every step of the way," said Atherton. "It is not possible to put into words what this means for the American Le Mans Series - the positive effect will be felt by all involved with the ALMS."
Porsche's key corporate North American organizations - PCNA and PMNA - have commissioned their parent company, Porsche AG, to design and construct a race car that will be eligible to compete in the LMP2 (Le Mans Prototype 2) ALMS class. It will be the first purpose-built Porsche factory racecar since the 1998 Porsche 911 GT1. Since the inception of the ALMS in 1999, Porsche's customer teams have competed in the ALMS GT2 class where they have won five manufacturer championships in the last six years, including last year's GT2 title. Porsche holds the all-time mark for race wins and poles with 49 and 50, respectively. For more than 30 years, the highly successful North American Porsche customer racing programs have featured such famed Porsche racecars as the 934, 935 and 962.
Penske Motorsports, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Penske Racing, Inc., will field the new Porsche prototype in its first full season of competition exclusively in 2006. One of the world's most successful racing organizations, Penske Racing has a rich racing history with Porsche highlighted by championships in the 1972 and 1973 SCCA Can-Am Series, campaigning the legendary Porsche 917/10 and 917/30 race cars. It is anticipated that Penske Motorsports will debut the new Porsche prototype at the final two races of the ALMS season - the Oct. 1 Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta and the Oct.16 season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, as test events before entering the entire 2006 season.
"The fact that Porsche is returning with a racing program in the LMP2 class in 2006 was going to be a big announcement all by itself," said Atherton, "but to add Penske Motorsports' involvement beginning this year in Atlanta at Petit Le Mans makes this one of the most significant developments in the history of the American Le Mans Series.
"These announcements today have the potential of causing a very positive paradigm shift for the ALMS and potentially for road racing in general. This sends a loud and clear message that the ALMS is a very strong and growing platform - worthy of attention, investment and participation by the best manufacturers and race teams in the world."
The Porsche-Penske announcement becomes the latest in a long list of very positive developments for the American Le Mans Series. The series has stepped up to a new level of proficiency and acclaim, and announcements of new manufacturers such as the Porsche prototype, Aston Martin, Maserati and the new the Mazda-powered prototype introduced at Road Atlanta are significant developments within the last 12 months. In addition, new sponsors such as Klein Tools, Rockford-Fosgate, Sportsbook.com and new suppliers such as Kumho Tires have fueled the ALMS' skyrocketing corporate involvement and participation. Two-new factory Corvette (C6-Rs), a new Lola LMP, a revitalized Panoz GT2 effort, increased TV ratings and record-breaking attendance are additional indications of the American Le Mans Series' stature as the elite sports car racing series in North America and one of the world's premier racing circuits.
The American Le Mans Series
The American Le Mans Series is a series of sports car endurance racing events patterned after the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. ALMS events feature multi-class racing among the world's most elite sports car racing drivers and teams. The starting lineup for every event includes both factory and privateer racing teams competing for overall wins as well as wins in one of four classes of competition.
Porsche Cars North America, Inc. (PCNA)
Porsche Cars North America, Inc. (PCNA), based in Atlanta, GA, and its subsidiary, Porsche Cars Canada, Ltd., are the exclusive importers of Porsche 911, Boxster and Carrera GT sports cars and Cayenne sport utility vehicles for the United States and Canada. A wholly owned, indirect subsidiary of Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, PCNA employs approximately 250 people who provide Porsche vehicles, parts, service, marketing and training for its 205 U.S. and Canadian dealers. They, in turn, provide Porsche owners with best-in-class service.