PETIT LE MANS PROVIDES ENDURANCE CHALLENGE FOR PORSCHE RS SPYDER COMPETITORS; EXTRA POINTS FOR LONGER RACE COULD DECIDE GT2 CHAMPIONSHIP AMONG PORSCHE DRIVERS
ATLANTA - September 25, 2006 - With six extra points awarded to each of the finishing teams for the 1000 kilometer/ten hour Petit Le Mans race at Road Atlanta on Saturday, September 30, the Porsche competitors in both classes are shuffling their team lineups for maximum results.
The Petit Le Mans event will be telecast live on the SPEED Channel starting on Saturday, September 30, at 11:30 AM, with eight hours of coverage (11:30 AM - 1:00 PM; 3:00 PM - 10:00 PM; local listings for exact times in your area).
In the American Le Mans Series LMP2 class, the two Porsche RS Spyder prototypes, prepared by Penske Motorsports, will look to lengthen Porsche's chassis and engine manufacturer championship points lead, while veteran drivers Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr continue their march towards the drivers championship. Maassen, now driving with Timo Bernhard in the #6 RS Spyder, is tied for the points lead with teammate Lucas Luhr - five points ahead of the rival Lola AER team. Luhr, his former co-driver, is now driving in the #7 team car with Romain Dumas. The team split up Maassen and Luhr for the rest of the season to give Porsche the best chance to win the LMP2 drivers title, with the Maassen/Bernhard car winning last month at Road America to give Sascha the points lead; then Luhr and Dumas winning three weeks ago at Mosport to give Lucas a tie for the points lead.
For the long Petit Le Mans event, both cars will have an additional driver to keep fresh competitors in the cockpit. Joining Maassen and Bernhard in #7 car will be Emmanuel Collard, French GT veteran driver whose credits include a GT victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (with Maassen and Luhr) and two overall wins at the 24 hours of Daytona. Luhr and Dumas will have German Mike Rockenfeller to help them in the #7 car. Rockenfeller replaces Patrick Long, originally scheduled in the car, as Long will be trying to help season-long teammate Jorg Bergmeister repeat as GT champ (see below).
After completing eight of the ten events in its first season of American Le Mans Series competition, the two Porsche RS Spyder V-8-powered prototypes have shown the sports car world they can perform at the front of the field, but have also shown the results of the new engine and chassis development. The two cars have scored five class wins between them, including a one-two overall victory at Mid-Ohio, and hold a significant points lead in chassis, engine and team LMP2 standings (Porsche currently leads the LMP2 chassis and manufacturers' championship and Penske Motorsports is currently on top of the LMP2 team championship). But a combination of mechanical problems and on-track incidents has left the drivers points chase a close battle between the Porsche and Lola drivers, including a double DNF at the other long race of the season - the 12 Hours of Sebring.
GT2 - Porsche Teams add World GT Stars
Johannes van Overbeek, leading driver and co-owner of the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, can clinch the GT2 class championship by finishing five places ahead of the charging Petersen/White Lightning Porsche team headed by Jorg Bergmeister, one of last year's GT2 champions.
Van Overbeek, who is alone atop the GT2 points heap as co-driver Wolf Henzler joined the team part way into the season, has won only one race, but has finished in the top five at every event to gain the lead. Porsche factory driver Marc Lieb will join Henzler for Petit to help support Johannes' championship run. Seth Neiman/ Lonnie Pechnik/Darren Law will be driving the second Flying Lizard Porsche.
Bergmeister, who was co-champion in GT2 last year with Patrick Long, is alone in second place as Long ran one of the RS Spyders at Sebring and did not gain any GT2 points there. In the last five races, Bergmeister/Long have two victories, two seconds, and a fifth while van Overbeek/Henzler have a second, two thirds, a fourth, and a fifth. Long has given up his chance to drive the Porsche RS Spyder at Petit to help support Bergmeister's championship chances. The team has also added local Buford, Georgia resident Nic Jonsson as their third driver.
The Rockenfeller/Long driver switches have also affected the #23 Alex Job Racing Porsche of driver lineup, as Rockenfeller has been an Alex Job regular all season. Team owner Alex Job, the most successful team entry in the history of the American Le Mans Series, has picked German Marcel Tiemann, Scotsman Robin Liddell, and German Dominik Farnbacher to run for the checkered flag.
The Petit Le Mans Race for the American Le Mans Series, round nine of the ten-race American Le Mans Series, will be held on Saturday, September 10, from 11:45 AM EDT to 9:45 PM EDT (ten hours or 1000 km., whichever comes first. The race will be telecast by live by the SPEED channel (11:30 AM - 1:00 PM; 3:00 PM - 10:00 PM; check local listings for exact times in your area), and in Europe on Motors TV, on Sunday, October 1. A live web radio broadcast can be heard on the American Le Mans Series web site - www.americanlemans.com. The ALMS site will also carry live scoring for the complete race, as well as for all practice and qualifying sessions. Porsche fans can see results and photos on www.porschemotorsport.com - a newly re-organized site for Porsche Motorsport activity.
-credit: porsche motorsport