GT Class Wide Open as Porsche Contenders Take on Infineon Raceway in Sonoma; Three Different GT Winners in Three Races an ALMS First --The Porsche 911 GT3 RSR competitors in the American Le Mans Series, now more evenly-matched than ever, head...
GT Class Wide Open as Porsche Contenders Take on Infineon Raceway in Sonoma; Three Different GT Winners in Three Races an ALMS First
--The Porsche 911 GT3 RSR competitors in the American Le Mans Series, now more evenly-matched than ever, head west to Infineon (formerly Sears Point) Raceway as three different teams have won the first three GT class contests for the first time in ALMS history; two teams headquartered at the track hope to exploit hometown advantage-
Sonoma, Calif. - July 12 - Two different Porsche racing teams and a Ferrari team have won the first three American Le Mans Series GT class competitions - the first time in ALMS history that three different teams have been victorious to open the season. And Porsche Motorsport North America President Uwe Brettel wouldn't be surprised if that trend continues.
"With the Alex Job Racing and Flying Lizard Porsches winning the first two events, and the Ferrari finishing first recently at Lime Rock, all the teams are now close in the point standings. When you see the BAM! Porsche second on the grid at Lime Rock, the J3 Racing Porsche leading most of the race there, the Petersen/White Lightning Porsche on the podium for each event, and The Racer's Group Porsche with its strong driving pair, the championship chase is really wide open," said Brettel, who is in his first full year with Porsche Motorsport North America.
"And that doesn't even take into consideration the new Panoz, which qualified second at Mid-Ohio just three weeks ago," said Brettel.
Two of the leading Porsche teams - The Racer's Group and Flying Lizard Motorsports - call Infineon Raceway home as their race shops are located right at the Sonoma facility, so if there is a home track advantage, these two teams top the list.
The Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, with Johannes van Overbeek from San Francisco and Darren Law from Phoenix sharing the driving duties, scored an impressive win last month at Mid-Ohio - the team's first in only three ALMS races entered. The pair currently lead the ALMS GT point standings after a second-place finish at Lime Rock Park July 4th weekend. The second Lizard team car, driven by Seth
Neiman, of Hillsborough, Calif., and Lonnie Pechnik, of Pacific Grove, Calif., is brand new after an accident a Mid-Ohio forced the team to order a new tub and build a new car during the Lime Rock Park weekend.
The Racer's Group Porsche team, with two 911 GT3 RSR cars entered, is also based at he track, with Patrick Long and Cort Wagner - both from Southern California - at the helm of the lead car. Wagner, a former ALMS GT champion, and Long, the 22 year-old Porsche factory driver who was recently on the winning GT team at Le Mans, are still looking for their first podium finish of the year. Pierre Ehret, from Santa Rosa, Calif., and veteran Jim Matthews, from Chapel Hill, NC, will drive the second The Racer's Group Porsche.
Alex Job Racing, the two-time defending American Le Mans Series GT champions, will have its two McKenna mail2web.com Porsche 911 GT3 RSR race cars ready to regain the top spot in GT, with Germans Timo Bernhard and Jorg Bergmeister in one car and Frenchman Romain Dumas and German Marc Lieb in the other. Timo and Jorg were second at Mid-Ohio after a fuel pick-up problem caused them to lose a lap for an early pit stop, and Romain and Marc had shifting problems and a yellow-flag-causing accident and spin into the gravel which earned them a disappointing seventh place finish there. At Lime Rock, Dumas grabbed the pole, but he and Lieb had to settle for third place after several pit stops for tires and a pit penalty. Bernhard/Bergmeister broke an axle, and finished tenth. The Alex Job Porsches finished one-two at the season opener at Sebring.
The Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Porsche drivers David Murry and Craig Stanton, who were third in all three events for far this season, have proven they can run with the leaders, but have not broken into the victory column. The team, which won Le Mans GT contest just four weeks ago, was the only GT team to oust Alex Job Racing from the winners circle in 2003, with Stanton and Johnny Mowlem grabbing a win at Road America.
BAM!'s Porsche 911 GT3 RSR also ran at Le Mans, and had a shot at the win before transmission problems sidelined their effort late in the race. Leo Hindery and defending ALMS GT co-champion Lucas Luhr - free for the weekend from his regular assignment in the FIA-GT series - will be driving the BAM! Porsche at Infineon Racway. Lucas' co-driver, Sascha Maassen, will also drive for BAM! at selected races this season. Both Lucas and Sascha were ALMS champions with Alex Job Racing in 2002 and 2003.
Two weeks ago at Lime Rock, Lucas put the BAM! Porsche on the front row of the GT grid, but Hindery was caught on the track at the beginning of a rain shower, and lost traction on lap two, crashing the car.
Peter Boss, from Narragansett, Rhode Island, and a newcomer to ALMS, will co-drive in the British-based P.K. Sport Porsche 911 GT3 RS with Hugh Plumb, while the J3
Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR will be co-driven by Justin Jackson and Tim Sugden. Sugden, who had the J3 Racing Porsche in the lead for almost two hours at Lime Rock, will be shooting to stay with the leaders again with Jackson at Infineon.
The Grand Prix Sonoma will be televised live on CBS starting at 4:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time on Sunday, July 18 (the race begins at 3:00 PM EDT - the network will join the race in progress and edit-on-the-go to catch up to real time action).
The official Porsche media web site - www.press.porsche.com - will have qualifying information for the Infineon 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 "motor sports news" and "ALMS" to find the Infineon updates. The same information is posted for consumers on Porsche's main site www.porsche.com/motorsport (click on "news").
The official race notes and results for all the classes at the Infineon event 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 as well as American Le Mans Radio Web, a live radio broadcast of all qualifying sessions as well as the entire 2-hour, 45-minute race.
Other Web sites that will follow the Infineon event 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.pitstop.com); and Speed Arena (www.speedarena.com).