PORSCHE RS SPYDER LOSES BID FOR FOURTH STRAIGHT CLASS WIN WITH 15 MINUTES TO GO PORTLAND, Ore. - July 22, 2006 - After building a five-lap LMP2 class lead with only 15 minutes to go in the American Le Mans Series' Portland Grand Prix, the...
PORSCHE RS SPYDER LOSES BID FOR FOURTH STRAIGHT CLASS WIN WITH 15 MINUTES TO GO
PORTLAND, Ore. - July 22, 2006 - After building a five-lap LMP2 class lead with only 15 minutes to go in the American Le Mans Series' Portland Grand Prix, the Porsche RS Spyder, prepared by Penske Motorsports, suddenly came to a halt in the pits with an engine problem and lost its opportunity to score its fourth straight class win.
Lucas Luhr, who was driving the car when the problem occurred, was running third overall and had no warning of what was about to happen.
"Our #6 Porsche RS Spyder was running much better than it did in practice or qualifying. We could not run with the LMP1 Audis, but our race strategy had put us ahead of all the other LMP1 and LMP2 cars. I went Into the next gear, and, all of a sudden, had no power. The engine was done, but we are not sure why. I feel badly for the Penske Porsche crew - they worked so hard in the intense heat to make us competitive," said Luhr.
This was the first engine-related problem suffered by either Porsche RS Spyder since its debut late last year.
Co-driver Sascha Maassen had started the #6 car, and took it to fourth place overall and first in class before Lucas stepped in a little more than one hour into the two-hour, 45-minute event. Sascha had qualified the car second in class and sixth overall. During an exchange of pit stops with the Audi LMP1 cars at the lap #91 mark, one hour, 49 minutes into the event, Luhr took over the overall lead which he held for 16 minutes until a full fuel stop and tire change pit stop handed the overall lead back to the Audis that went on take the top two overall spots in the event. Lucas also turned the fastest LMP2 race lap, setting a new LMP2 track record.
The #7 Porsche RS Spyder, driven by class pole-sitter Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard, was running fifth overall and first in LMP2 when an LMP1 prototype attempted a pass, forcing Dumas off the course and onto the bumpy race course curbs. The cars then touched again, breaking the left side pod of the Porsche, and damaging its cooling and exhaust system. The car was pushed back into the garage area, where it underwent extensive repairs, and, with follow-up pit stops for additional repairs, finished 18 laps behind the winning LMP2 Lola.
Despite their on-course problems, the two cars completed enough laps to finish second (car #6) and third (car #7) in class and retain Porsche's engine and chassis manufacturer's LMP2 points lead, with Maassen and Luhr now five points back of Lola drivers Halliday and Field in the driver points.
GT2 - Ferrari Wins; van Overbeek retains points lead
The Petersen/White Lightning Porsche 911 GT3 RSR driven by Patrick Long and Jorg Bergmeister had a race-long GT2 class battle with the Salo/Melo Ferrari 430, but could not hold off the V-8 competitor, which passed Long with 20 minutes to go in the race. Long/Bergmeister finished second, with the Auberlin/Hand BMW finishing third.
In fourth place, and retaining his GT2 points lead, was the Flying Lizard Porsche driver Johannes van Overbeek, who was helped by a late-race charge by co-driver Wolf Henzler. The Alex Job Racing Porsche of Robin Liddell/Mike Rockenfeller was poised to finish third when they broke a wheel with only 14 minutes to go, and had to settle for seventh place in class.
The American Le Mans Series moves to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, on August 21, for the Road America two-hour, 45-minute event.