Sebring: Porsche preview

All the Porsche ALMS regulars from 2003, plus new teams and cars from Europe will seek Porsche's 11th straight class win at America's oldest sports car event before more than 100,000 people and live on The Speed Channel TV on Saturday, March ...

All the Porsche ALMS regulars from 2003, plus new teams and cars from Europe will seek Porsche's 11th straight class win at America's oldest sports car event before more than 100,000 people and live on The Speed Channel TV on Saturday, March 20--

ATLANTA -- March 16 -- Porsche race teams will try for their fifth straight GT class win and Porsche's 11th straight class win at Sebring this weekend at the 52nd Annual Mobil 12 Hours of Sebring, Saturday, March 20.

At the close of entries deadline, 46 cars have entered the event, including 21 in the GT class, with 15 of those cars being Porsches. The strongest Porsche teams from North America will battle Le Mans contenders from Europe and a selection of Ferraris, TV Rs, and Morgans in the GT class in what should be the closest racing of the weekend.

Two of the top teams are from nearby Florida regions, including the three-time defending ALMS GT champions, Tavaras, Florida-based Alex Job Racing and the Stuart, Florida, team of BAM! Racing.

Alex Job Racing has been preparing Porsches for Sebring since the 1980s, and will debut two new Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs -- both driven by Porsche factory drivers.  One car will be piloted by Germans Jorg Bergmeister and Timo Bernhard, along with last year's AL
MS co-champion Sascha Maassen, while the other is entered for 2003 Porsche Cup winner Marc Lieb, Frenchman Romain Dumas and ALMS co-champion Lucas Luhr.  Maassen and Luhr will be running the FIA-GT series in Europe this year, but have returned to the U.S.
for the Sebring event.  Maassen and Luhr won Sebring in 2001 - 2003, with Luhr winning the event in 2000 co-driving with Dirk Mueller in the Dick Barbour Racing Porsche.  Only the legendary Bob Holbert won his class four years in a row (in the '60s).

Leo Hindery, president of the YES Network -- the New York Yankees cable TV outlet -- has formed a new team based in Stuart, Florida, and will contest Sebring with Deerfield Park, FL's Peter Baron and German UPS Porsche Junior driver Mike Rockenfeller. Hindery's team was to debut its own Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, but a crash during tes ting at Sebring last week totaled their new race car, and the team was forced to enter last year's Le Mans Porsche 911 GT3 RS, which finished second in the GT class at the French classic.

Two-time Rolex 24 and Le Mans champion Kevin Buckler, who owns the Sonoma, Calif.-based The Racer's Group, will be entering three cars to try to overcome several years of bad luck at Sebring -- the only major endurance title to elude him. Buckler is steppi ng out of his own entry this year in favor of faster drivers in a concerted effort to contest the ALMS season title. Former Corvette factory driver Kelly Collins, from Newport Beach, CA, will join Porsche factory driver Patrick Long and 1999 ALMS champion Cort Wagner in The Racer's Group Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, while Jim Matthews/Marc Bunting/Pierre Ehret will pilot the second The Racer's Group Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The third car, a Porsche 911 GT3 RS, will be driven by Piers Masarati/Gregor Fisken/Ian Donald son.

The Las Vegas-based Petersen/White Lightning Motorsports team, which teamed with Alex Job to win the Le Mans 24-hour event last year, also has a new Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The team's new driver combination includes former SCCA World Challenge champion David Murry from Cumming, GA, and veteran Craig Stanton, from Long Beach, CA, along with team owner Michael Petersen.

Newcomers from Northern California, making their Porsche debut last month at the Rolex 24 with a great second-place finish in GT -- only 6.9 seconds from first -- are the Flying Lizard Motorsports team, which will enter two new Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs. In the "Lizards'" lead entry, drivers Johannes van Overbeek, Darren Law, and John Fogarty will share the racing duties. World Challenge champion Peter Cunningham will drive the other Porsche with Seth Neiman and Lonnie Pechnik.

Atlanta-based J-3 Racing, with team owner Justin Jackson at the helm, returns for its third Sebring appearance, along with co-drivers Brian Cunningham and England's Tim Sudgen in a new Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.  Also returning for a third year is the British-ba
sed P.K. Sport team, entering both a 2004 and a 2003 Porsche.  Robin Liddell,Peter Boss, and Hugh Plumb will pilot last year's car, while the new Porsche will be driven by Alex Caffi, Tracy Kohn, and David Warnock.

2001 Le Mans champions Seikel Motorsport have entered a Porsche 911 GT3 RS for Tony Burgess, Grady Willingham, and Philip Collin, while German-based Cirtek Motorsport has a 2004 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR for Londoners Rob Wilson and Frank Mountain.

Built at Porsche Motorsport in the Research and Development Department at Weissach, the Porsche 911 GT3 R finished 1-2 in class at Le Mans in 1999, and has won its class in both the Grand Am and American Le Mans Series on multiple occasions. The car has a lso won its class five years in a row at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and four years running at the 12 Hours of Sebring.

More than 200 Porsche 911 GT3 R/RS/RSR racecars have been sold so far worldwide, with almost half of those cars having raced in the U.S.

Based on the new Porsche 911 GT3 RS for sale in Europe, the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR features improvements to its predecessor in all key areas. The vehicle is available in an ACO (Automobile Club de l`Ouest) version for competing in Le Mans and in the American Le Mans Series as well as in a FIA specification.

The 911 GT3 RSR features a modified front, which improves down force at the front axle. Its 3.6-litre, six-cylinder boxer engine delivers 445 hp at 8,250 revs. maximum torque is now 405 Nm at 7,200 rpm, with top revs reached at 8,500 (for the FIA specification with two 30.8 mm air restrictors). New pistons and rods as well as a new valve gear result in a moderate power increase with the focus on further-improved drivability and durability.

A six speed sequential gearbox with ignition cut ensures quick gearshifts at full throttle and offers reliable protection of the gearbox from gearshifting mistakes.

The suspension, with McPherson struts in the front and the Porsche multi-link axle at the rear, features new kinematics thanks to new wheel-uprights and modified mounting points. Further improved turning in and reduced tire wear are the most obvious result s of these modifications. The double springs adjustable to four settings, the adjustable shock absorbers and anti-roll bars as well as unibal joints ensure a precise set-up to suit each circuit.

The brake system features four-piston aluminum calipers on all wheels with discs measuring 380 mm diameter in the front and 355 mm at the rear.

Weighing 1,100 kgs (FIA specification) or 1,115 kgs (ACO spec) the 911 GT3 RSR sits at the minimum weight limit. Porsche offers various kits for different competition purposes.

The 52nd Annual 12 Hours of Sebring will be televised live -- flag to flag -- on The Speed Channel starting at 10:00 PM Eastern time on Saturday, March 20. The Speed Channel will telecast a 30-minute pre-race show followed by the green flag at 10:30 AM, and will stay with the race through the checkered flag at 10:30 PM -- plus the victory circle and post-race celebration.

The official Porsche media web site -- www.press.porsche.com -- will have qualifying information for the Sebring event for the Porsches entered, and will post stories and photos during and after the race. Porsche media web site users enter the word "carrier " for both user name and password, then choose "motor sports news" and "ALMS" to find the Sebring updates. The same information is posted for consumers on Porsche's main site www.porsche.com/motorsport (click on Porsche Motorsports North America and "rac e reports").

The official race notes and results for all the classes at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring 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 12-hour race.

Other Web sites that will follow the Rolex 24 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.c om), 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 S peed Arena (www.speedarena.com).

PORSCHE SEBRING FACTS

Overall Wins: 17 (Ferrari is second with 12)

Class Wins: 46

Fastest race average speed: 115.82 mph (Akin/Stuck/Gartner in a Porsche 962 -- 1986)

Fastest race lap: 130.707 mph by Derek Bell in a Porsche 962 -- 1986)

Porsche 911 Wins: 25 Overall and Class Victories

1st Overall Win: 1960

GT Class Wins: 23 (since 1979)

13 Year Winning Streak (overall): 1976-1988

At least one Porsche has competed at Sebring every year since 1953 -- 52 straight races. No other manufacturer is close to that record.

-porsche-

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Dirk Müller , Peter Boss , Robin Liddell , Tony Burgess , Sascha Maassen , Kelly Collins , Lucas Luhr , Kevin Buckler , Leo Hindery , Peter Baron , Darren Law , Jörg Bergmeister , Dick Barbour , Timo Bernhard , Pierre Ehret , Patrick Long , Derek Bell , Peter Cunningham , Johannes van Overbeek , Jim Matthews , Brian Cunningham , Hugh Plumb , Marc Lieb , Alex Caffi , Craig Stanton , Romain Dumas , Piers Masarati , David Warnock , Gregor Fisken , Michael Petersen , Marc Bunting , Justin Jackson , Seth Neiman , Lonnie Pechnik , Mike Rockenfeller , Frank Mountain , Grady Willingham , Alex Job , Tracy Kohn , Cort Wagner
Teams Alex Job Racing , Flying Lizard Motorsports