Porsche preview, RS Spyder debut

PENSKE PORSCHE RS SPYDER LMP2 PROTOTYPE LEADS FOUR DIFFERENT CLASSES OF PORSCHE RACE CARS INTO COMPETITION AT MAZDA LAGUNA SECA RACEWAY --While the DHL-sponsored Penske Porsche RS Spyder LMP2 prototype might grab the early headlines, Porsche...

PENSKE PORSCHE RS SPYDER LMP2 PROTOTYPE LEADS FOUR DIFFERENT CLASSES OF PORSCHE RACE CARS INTO COMPETITION AT MAZDA LAGUNA SECA RACEWAY

--While the DHL-sponsored Penske Porsche RS Spyder LMP2 prototype might grab the early headlines, Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (IMSA spec) and Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (SCCA spec) will also be featured this weekend in Monterey-

MONTEREY, Calif. - October 13 - The eyes of the sports car world will be focused on Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway on Saturday, October 15, as the first Porsche factory prototype in eight years - the new Penske Porsche LMP2 race car - will have its competition debut at the American Le Mans Series' Monterey Sports Car Championships event.

The car, which will be driven by former ALMS champions Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr in the four-hour ALMS finale, has gone through extensive testing - more than 3,300miles woth - both in Europe and North America, including two four-hour race simulations. Dieter Steinhauser, Porsche's General Manager of Motorsport Development, is cautious to point out that Laguna is a test race for next season's run for the LMP2 championship, but he said there is reason to be optimistic.

"We were immediately delighted with the performance of the car, and, just as important, the RS Spyder's prompt reaction to any changes in setup," said Steinhauser.

In the LMP2 class, the car will run against Mazda and AER-powered Courage and Lola prototypes.

Porsche 911 GT3 RSR

With a big victory at the recent Petit Le Mans event at Road Atlanta two weeks ago, Patrick Long, from Las Vegas, NV, and Jorg Bergmeister, from Langenfeld, Germany, have virtually clinched the ALMS GT2 class championship in their Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Porsche 91`1 GT3 RSR.

Rivals Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas recovered from a season-opening DNF at Sebring in their Alex Job Racing Porsche with four mid-season wins in a row, but a power steering failure at Mosport and broken suspension at Petit Le Mans have given Patrick and Jorg an almost insurmountable lead of 22 points with a possible 24 points available this weekend.

In the team championship, however - a title which means a lot to both squads - Petersen/White Lightning leads Alex Job by only six points, so both teams will be running full bore for the checkered flag. Alex Job Racing is also entering a second Porsche for drivers Ian Baas and Darren Law, who recent podium finishes have kept the team in that points chase.

Other Porsche 911 GT3 RSR competitors include the two-car Flying Lizard Motorsports team, with drivers Johannes van Overbeek/Jon Fogarty in one car, and Lonnie Pechnik/Seth Neiman in the other. Germans Wolf Henzler and Mike Rockenfeller, both winners in other series this year (Henzler has won several SCCA SPEED World Challenge events and was a winner in GT at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, while Rockenfeller drove the winning GT car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and is leading the FIA GT series with multiple wins) will be trying for their first 2005 ALMS win in the BAM! Porsche. The other Porsche team, the J3 Racing Group, has entered two cars - one for Justin Jackson/Tim Sugden, and the second one for Marco Petrini/Maurizio Fabris.

Porsche 911 GT3 Cup - two versions; two races

The weekend also marks the final round of the five-race IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge presented by Michelin, with the Monterey event to run Sunday afternoon. More than 20 Porsches from around the country have entered to compete in this 45-minute event, which features the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race cars.

The car which Laguna fans will see in this series is a purpose-built racecar manufactured by the Porsche factory on the same assembly line as Porsche's complete line of sports cars for the consumer. The IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge car is based on the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup street car (996), while the Porsche Michelin Supercup series - which runs with Formula One around the world - has moved to the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car based on the newly-introduced 997 model. That new Porsche Cup car will be legal in the 2006 IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge, which recently announced a seven-race schedule for next year.

The competitors have sealed engines and 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, and Michelin provides the spec tires for all competitors.

The Porsche 911 GT3 Cup racer is also competing in the SCCA SPEED World Challenge event - also taking place Sunday afternoon. With the modified performance regulations in the series, the Porsche is competitive with Vipers, Corvettes, and Cadillacs. Porsche 911 GT3 Cup drivers Wolf Henzler and Robin Liddell have both won races this year to push Porsche to the top of the manufacturers points chase. With only the Monterey event left on the schedule, Porsche holds a narrow three-point lead over Cadillac for the points championship.

Other Porsche competitors in SPEED World Challenge include James and Brad Sofronas, Jon Groom, and Lawson Aschenbach.

The Monterey Sports Car Championships will commence on Saturday, October 15 at 7:00 PM EDT, with tape-delayed SPEED Channel television coverage starting at 1:00 PM EDT on Sunday, October 16. The race will last four hours, and, along with the qualifying sessions, will be broadcast live on American Le Mans Web Radio, at www.americanlemans.com.

The SPEED World Challenge will be telecast immediately after the ALMS event on Sunday, with the live coverage starting at 5:00 PM EDT.

The official Porsche media web site - www.press.porsche.com - has qualifying information for the Laguna event for the Porsches entered, and will post stories and photos during and after the race. Porsche media web site users enter the word "carrera" for both user name and password, then choose "motorsports news" and "ALMS" to find the Petit Le Mans updates. The same information is posted for consumers on Porsche's main site www.porsche.com/motorsport (click on Porsche Motorsports North America and "race reports").

The series race notes and results for all the classes at the American Le Mans event at Laguna can be found on the official site for the American Le Mans Series (www.americanlemans.com), where fans can follow the qualifying sessions and the race with live timing and scoring on-line.

-porsche-

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