Road America: Porsche Motorsport preview

ELKHART LAKE, WI - August 20 - In the midst of its 15-race GT class winning streak, the Porsche 911 GT3 RS has become the most successful race car for a company which is already the most successful racing marque in history. At this weekend's ...

ELKHART LAKE, WI - August 20 - In the midst of its 15-race GT class winning streak, the Porsche 911 GT3 RS has become the most successful race car for a company which is already the most successful racing marque in history. At this weekend's American Le M ans Series Road America 500, the 10 Porsche teams running the Porsche 911 GT3 RS hope to master the long four-mile, 12-turn course to boost the legacy of this fast and reliable racer.

"Because of the Porsche 911 GT3 family of race cars is built by the Porsche factory, the quality is consistent and the design is based on our latest experiences in GT racing around the world," said Alwin Springer, president of Porsche Motorsport North Amer ica.

"We are the only automobile manufacturer that builds race cars for sale to the public, and then follows up with technical support, parts sales, and service for those customers who choose to use that support.  For the American Le Mans Series, engineers from
 the factory attend every race, helping all Porsche teams from practice days through the end of the race.  No other manufacturer even attempts this activity," said Springer, who will be retiring this year after more than 30 years of Porsche racing experien
ce.  Uwe Brettel, currently vice-president of PMNA and former manager of the Porsche Supercup series, will succeed Springer at the Santa Ana, Calif.-based company.

Porsche has built more than 1,000 911 Carrera 2 Cup, GT3 Cup, GT3 R, and GT3 RS race cars during the past decade, with customers around the world in the FIA-GT series, various national Carrera Cup series, the Michelin Porsche Supercup series, the Rolex Gra nd-Am Sports Car series, the Grand-Am Cup series, the Speed Channel Cup series, and, of course, the American Le Mans Series. In addition, club racers are using the car for autocrossing in SCCA as well as Porsche Club of America and Porsche Owners Club eve nts. Overall, since 1965, Porsche 911s have more than 23,000 race victories worldwide.

Since the beginning of the American Le Mans Series in 1999, the most successful team has been the Tavares, Florida-based Alex Job Racing team - the only team to win its class in ALMS during each season. Alex Job-prepared McKenna Porsches have won two ALMS GT driver titles (1999 with Cort Wagner and 2002 with Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr), 22 ALMS GT class wins including 11 of the last 12 events dating back to Road America's event last year (including all five events so far this year), and one team champio nship (2002).

Alex Job Racing is off to an even better start than last year's championship run, with a class win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans to complement its five ALMS wins. Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr were joined by French veteran Emmanuel Collard in a Porsche 911 G T3 RS entered jointly by Alex Job and the White Lightning/Petersen Motorsports team from Las Vegas.

Luhr has won the GT class at the 12 Hours of Sebring a record four years in a row, tying the mark set in the '60s by veteran Bob Holbert, as well as Le Mans two years in a row.  Maassen has more wins than any ALMS driver in the history of the series with 1
8 victories, and is the only ALMS driver to win a race in each year of the series.  After five ALMS events this season, Maassen/Luhr lead Bergmeister/Bernhard by 22 points (drivers gain 20 points for a win).

The other Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RS is being driven by German factory drivers Jorg Bergmeister and Timo Bernhard. Bergmeister/Bernhard won their first ALMS race at Road America a year ago, and have challenged their "senior" teammates all season, winning events at Road Atlanta and last week at Mosport in Canada, and giving Alex Job his third GT win at the Canadian track (previous wins in 1999 and 2000). Both drivers grew up in the Porsche GT "system" in Europe, with Bernhard winning the 2001 Porsc he Carrera Cup series in Germany and Bergmeister winning the 2001 Porsche Supercup season championship.

The White Lightning/Petersen Motorsports Porsche, as mentioned above, has had great success in its limited racing schedule this year, winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Alex Job, and finished second to the AJR Porsche at Sebring with Johnny Mowlem/Nic Jo nsson/Craig Stanton at the helm. Mowlem and Stanton are back with the team for the rest of the season, and hope to pressure the other Porsches for the podium at Road America.

Kevin Buckler and his Sonoma, Calif. - based team, The Racer's Group, haven't had good luck so far this ALMS season in their Porsches, but Buckler had more success at the beginning of the year than most teams have in a lifetime. He and The Racer's Group r egular Michael Schrom teamed with factory drivers Jorg Bergmeister and Timo Bernhard to win the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona outright in their Porsche - the first time a GT car had won the event overall since 1977.

Last year, besides winning the GT class at the Rolex 24 and the GT class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, The Racer's Group captured wins at the ALMS races at Mid-Ohio (Buckler/B.J. Zacharias) and Mosport (Buckler/Brian Cunningham).  He and Schrom also won the
Grand-Am event at Fontana, Calif.  For 2003, Buckler and co-driver Cort Warner have one podium finish - a third at Road Atlanta - to their credit.

The other two The Racer's Group Porsches will be driven by Schrom and Pierre Ehret, and Chris Gleason/Marc Bunting.

The Jupiter, Florida-based Orbit Racing YES Network Porsche will be driven this weekend by Peter Baron and Porsche factory racer Marc Lieb. Last week at Mosport, Lieb came storming through the field to finish third, the team's second podium finish of the year. Lieb, Baron and Leo Hindery drove together at the 24 hours of Le Mans in June, finishing second in GT. In February, Lieb put the Orbit car on the pole in GT at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. Four weeks ago, Lieb teamed with Romain Dumas and Steph ane Ortelli in a Porsche FIA-GT Group N car to win the 24 Hours of Spa overall, quite an accomplishment for a GT-class car. The second Orbit Porsche will be driven by the father-son team of Joe and Jay Policastro, who are returning to the team after missi ng the Canadian events due to business and family commitments.

Seikel Motorsports, based both in the U.S. and in Germany, will have Tony Burgess and Philip Collin driving their Porsche 911 GT3 RS, while the two-car British-based PK Sport Porsche 911 GT3 RS team, which is still looking for its first good finish this se ason, will have PK Sport regular Robin Liddell from Scotland and Alex Davison from Australia driving the lead car, while veteran GT driver Vic Rice and Keith Alexander will pilot the second PK Porsche.

One Porsche team making progress through the top ten in class is the J-3 Racing Porsche of Justin Jackson, and former SCCA World Challenge champion David Murry, who moved smartly through the field to finish sixth in Sonoma in July.  They then scored their
first podium finish of the year at Trois-Rivieres, only to be disqualified for an alleged bodywork infraction.  J-3 appealed that disqualification, and their third place finish was restored.

Spencer Pumpelly and Andy Lally, whose best finish in their Zip Racing Porsche has been fifth so far this year (Trois-Rivieres), are back to try for a podium finish at Road America.

The Road America 500 will be broadcast live on The Speed Channel starting at 2:00 PM Eastern Daylight time on Sunday, August 24. The entire 2-hour, 45-minute event, along with Saturday qualifying, will be broadcast live online on the American Le Mans Radio Web, which can be accessed on the Web at www.americanlemans.com. Live timi ng and scoring for qualifying and the race are also available at www.americanlemans.com on Saturday and Sunday.

The official Porsche media web site - www.press.porsche.com - will have racing results and photos for the Road America event for the Porsches entered. Use the word "carrera" for both user name and password, then choose "motorsports news" to find the result s. 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 official race notes and results for all the classes at the Road America event can be found on the official site for the American Le Mans Series www.americanlemans.com.

Other Web sites that will follow the American Le Mans Series include Daily Sports Car (www.dailysportscar.com), The Race Site (www.theracesite.com), the Speed Channel site (www.speedTV.com), Motorsport.com (www.motorsport.com) , AutoSport magazine's site (www.autosport.com), AutoRacingDaily.com (www.autoracingdaily.com), Motorsport-news.com (www.motorsport-news.com), Crash.net (www.crash.net), racinglines.com (www.racinglines.com), EnduranceSportsCar.com (www.endurancesportscar.com), pitstop.com (www.pit stop.com); and Speed Arena (www.speedarena.com).

Road America 500 - GT Entry List

#23, Sascha Maassen, Germany; Lucas Luhr, Germany; Alex Job Racing McKenna Porsche 911 GT3 RS (GT)

#24, Timo Bernhard, Germany; Jorg Bergmeister, Germany; Alex Job Racing McKenna Porsche 911 GT3 RS (GT)

#28, Stephane Gregoire, Carmel, IN; Eliseo Salazar, Santiago, Chile; Ferrari 360 Modena (GT)

#29, Steve Earle, Garden Ridge, TX; Peter Kutemann, Monte Carlo, Monaco, Ferrari 360 Modena (GT)

#31, Johnny Mowlem, London, England; Craig Stanton, Long Beach, CA; White Lightning/Petersen Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RS (GT)

#33, Andy Lally, Northport, NY; Spencer Pumpelly, Mason Neck, VA; Zip Racing Porsche 911

-porsche-

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Eliseo Salazar , Stephan Gregoire , Emmanuel Collard , David Murry , Robin Liddell , Tony Burgess , Sascha Maassen , Lucas Luhr , Kevin Buckler , Leo Hindery , Peter Baron , Andy Lally , Jörg Bergmeister , Timo Bernhard , Michael Schrom , Pierre Ehret , Chris Gleason , Brian Cunningham , Spencer Pumpelly , Johnny Mowlem , Marc Lieb , Craig Stanton , Romain Dumas , Marc Bunting , Vic Rice , Justin Jackson , Alex Davison , Keith Alexander , Peter Kutemann , Jay Policastro , Alex Job , Cort Wagner
Teams HART , Alex Job Racing