Timo Bernhard: A lap of Portland

Motorsport.com has asked drivers from the American Le Mans Series and the SCCA SPEED World Challenge to give our readers an insight of some of the 2005 venues that they will compete on. This coming weekend the racers will compete on the 1.944-mile Portland International Raceway in Portland, Oregon.

Timo Bernhard.
Photo by Richard Sloop.
The 2004 GT2 champion driver was born in Hamburg, Germany and already has notched two class 24 Hours of Le Mans, the most recent this past June. Bernhard is a Porsche factory driver who made his American Le Mans Series debut with Alex Job Racing in 2001 at the 12 Hours of Sebring. The German racer is now in his third season with AJR, the team that is looking to win their fifth ALMS team title.

Bernhard and co-driver Romain Dumas will attempt to win their third straight ALMS victory on the 12-turn road course on Saturday evening. In his own words, Bernhard takes our readers on a tour of the circuit in his Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.


A Lap of Portland with Alex Job Racing's Timo Bernhard

Coming into the first turn I am in sixth gear. The entry to turn one is quite wide so there are many different lines you can take through there, but you have to be careful because the surface goes from asphalt to concrete and that can upset the car. I take the turn in second gear. I understand that they have done some work on the turn to widen it a little. This is a welcome change as last year I had two incidents of contact in that corner.

Going up through the gears I get to fifth before the braking point into turn four, turn three is flat. Turn four appears on the track map to be a caroussel, but it is actually a combination of three right handers. You have to take car of your tires here, because you can use them up trying too hard to get through there fast. These turns are taken in fourth gear.

The left hander number six you can enter early or late, being careful of traffic and faster cars trying to overtake. This is a third gear turn.

#23 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR: Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas.
Photo by Todd Corzett.
Turn seven is a right hander that you have to maximize your exit speed as you are leading onto a long straight. We take this turn in third.

Running down to turn nine you are flat through there in sixth careful not to hit the curb. Into ten I am quick on the brake and aggressive over the curb then quickly down to fourth and then up to fifth. I am focused here to take the last turn with as much speed as possible so I can carry it down the front straight. Again there are many different lines through the last turn, it is important that you don't break your momentum as you will be slow getting onto the dragway.

Last year at Portland we turned a lap time of 1:14.027 with an average speed of about 94 mph. Portland is about taking care of your tires through the right handers. These turns also are a good measure of how the car is setup. The layout of Portland is similar to the short course at the Nurburgring in Germany.


Alex Job Racing's Timo Bernhard will be driving his number 23/Hyatt/Bell Microproducts/Alex Job Racing/Porsche 911 GT3 RSR at Portland International Speedway on Saturday, July 30 starting at 5:00 p.m.

AJR thanks team sponsors Hyatt, Bell Microproducts, ProVest and partners Mobil 1, Michelin, Puma and ZF Sachs.