Road Atlanta: Porsche race report

Patrick Long (USA) and Joerg Bergmeister (Germany), with assistance today from fellow Porsche factory driver Marc Lieb (Germany), clinched the 2010 American Le Mans Series GT championship with a gritty fifth-place in GT in their ...

Patrick Long (USA) and Joerg Bergmeister (Germany), with assistance today from fellow Porsche factory driver Marc Lieb (Germany), clinched the 2010 American Le Mans Series GT championship with a gritty fifth-place in GT in their #45 Flying Lizard Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.

Joerg and Patrick have now won three championships together for Porsche (2005, 2009, and 2010), and they helped their #45 Porsche win the season-long Michelin GREEN X Challenge for the Flying Lizards.. Developed by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency and SAE International to accelerate the development of new technologies and fuels through competition, the MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge recognizes the prototype and GT car that go farthest, fastest and with the smallest environmental footprint at each ALMS event.

In LMP2, the Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder finished ahead of most of the class field, but could not match lap times with the HPD ARX-01c, and finished second on class and second in the season points. Drivers Klaus Graf, Lucas Luhr, and Sascha Maassen (all Germany) overcame race-long engine gremlins to finish seventh overall.

The GT Challenge Class race, for matched Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, came down to the last 30 minutes of the race, but the TRG Porsche of Henri Richard/Andy Lally/Duncan Ende (all USA) outlasted the points leaders from Black Swan Racing - Tim Pappas (USA) and brothers Jeroen and Sabstiaan Bleekemolen. But all was not lost for the Black Swan Porsche squad as Pappas and Jeroen Bleekemolen clinched the season points title with their second- place finish.

Although it was not running for a podium finish or a championship, the Porsche's racing laboratory, the 911 GT3 R Hybrid, with 24 Hours of Le Mans champions Timo Bernhard/Mike Rockenfeller (both Germany) and Romain Dumas (France) aboard, was the 18th best finisher in a starting field of 41 cars, and earned a time that would have put them eighth in GT2 out of 13 starters.

"We are happy that our Porsche Hybrid race car proved at Petit Le Mans that it could succeed in both performance and reliability," said Dr. Daniel Armbruster, Porsche Motorsport Development - Systems.

"After we overcame some early set-up problems, we were pleased that the car turned times comparable to the GT2 class leaders. This was an excellent exercise and we learned a lot, so we leave Atlanta smarter than when we arrived," said Dr. Armbruster, who lead the engineering team that developed the Hybrid system.

As for the GT championship, Patrick Long said this title felt different than previous ones because the competition was so fierce.

"We really stole this championship - in a way. To earn our past titles, we would race against one or two competitive cars, but this year, we were both lucky and good against the best sports cars and top road racers in the world - eight cars which could win any given event. This was indeed our sweetest championship ever," said Long.

The Lizards just missed out clinching the manufacturers championship for Porsche as the Auberlen/Milner/Werner BMW edged the Long/Bergmeister Porsche by one place in the results, so BMW ended up with 158 points, and Porsche finished with 157.

When the Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder had to miss the LMP competition at Mid-Ohio due to a testing accident, it looked like there was no way the team could continue to contest the championship, but lead driver Klaus Graf knew differently.

"We have fought back all year, and this weekend was no different. It was a fantastic season, with three wins and a lot of podiums - this Porsche RS Spyder brought us lots of fun, lots of joy, and smiles on everyone's face. Today, we had some problems, but we pushed through them and finished second," said Graf.

-source: porsche

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