First road race in the nation's capital, tight temporary course puts all the Porsche teams on equal footing. WASHINGTON, D.C. - July 18 - When the Senators then the Redskins left Robert F. Kennedy Stadium in Washington, D.C., sports excitement...
First road race in the nation's capital, tight temporary course puts all the Porsche teams on equal footing.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - July 18 - When the Senators then the Redskins left Robert F. Kennedy Stadium in Washington, D.C., sports excitement seemed to be drained from our nation's capital. But a new international infusion of speed and endurance - The American Le Mans Series' Cadillac Grand Prix of Washington, D.C. - brings a dif ferent dimension to both the city and the racing series, and the Porsche teams are ready to compete.
"Both Lucas Luhr and I have driven on temporary courses in Europe, and the main concerns are finding safe places to pass and keeping the car away from the unforgiving cement barriers that line the track," said Sascha Maassen, who currently leads the GT cla ss points standings in his Alex Job Racing Xybernaut McKenna Porsche 911 GT3 RS. Fellow German and co-driver Lucas Luhr is one point behind based on Sascha's two pole positions so far this season.
"We've never been to this track, so set-up will be somewhat of a mystery, but everyone is in the same boat," said car owner Alex Job. "The race results could be decided, in part, by which teams have the best communication between drivers and crew in order to affect the best set-up."
The two Alex Job Xybernaut McKenna Porsches have dominated the ALMS series so far this season, with the #23 Maassen/Luhr Porsche winning the 12 Hours of Sebring as well as the Sears Point Grand Prix of Sonoma. The #22 team Porsche won the event two weeks a go at Road America, and finished second at Mid-Ohio, allowing German drivers Jorg Bergmeister and Timo Bernhard to move up to third and fourth, respectively, in the standings behind Sascha and Lucas.
The #66 Racers Group Porsche 911 GT3 RS, driven by team owner Kevin Buckler and Brian Cunningham this weekend at Washington, has the other ALMS GT win, as Buckler and local Ohio driver B.J. Zacharias, claimed the win at Mid-Ohio. It was not only Buckler's first ALMS win, and another victory in a year where he has won the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and a Grand-Am event, but it gave him much-needed points to say in contact with the Alex Job drivers in the points standings. For this event, Buckler has entered a second Porsche for Grand-Am champion Darren Law and Daytona 24 Hour winner Michael Schrom.
A new team in the American Le Mans Series is the Jupiter, Florida - based Orbit Racing, which has moved from the rival Grand-Am series to run two Porsches in this year's ALMS events. Leo Hindery, from Hillsborough, Calif., and Peter Baron, from San Mateo, Calif., will pilot the #43 Orbit Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RS (they were joined by Kyle Petty at Daytona earlier this year), while the team's #42 Porsche will be driven by Gary Schultheis from Boca Raton, Fla., Tony Kester, from Michigan City, Mich. and John Lloyd, Jr., from Boston, Mass. The team finished sixth at Sebring (Hindery/Baron/Borkowski), and second at Daytona (Schultheis/Baron/Tremblay). The team's entry at Le Mans did not finish due to transmission trouble. Baron had lead the race at Mid-Ohio d uring the first half-hour when a spin put his car in the gravel trap.
Also coming over from Grand-Am is the Selby Wellman/Sylvain Tremblay/Paul Mears, Jr. Speedsource Porsche 911 GT3 R, running its first ALMS event.
Another new ALMS team this year is the J3 Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RS entry of team owner Justin Jackson and 2000 Porsche Cup winner Mike Fitzgerald. The J3 Porsche was in contention to win Mid-Ohio event, with Fitzgerald finishing third after suffering hea t exhaustion on the last lap. The team finished seventh at Road America two weeks ago.
Veteran Porsche racer Larry Schumacher, who recently purchased a new Porsche 911 GT3 RS, has entered the car for himself and former World Challenge champion David Murry. Schumacher and Murry were running in third place at Sears Point before an accident en ded their run.
The Canadian Porschehaus Racing entry, with the #89 Porsche 911 GT3 RS of Adam Merzon and Robert Julien, and the #88 Porsche of Peter Overing and Stephane Veilleux, is also new to ALMS this season. Merzon was leading the Grand Am race late in the event la st month at Watkins Glen when the windshield collapsed on the last lap, leaving Merzon with cuts and bruises and a second-place finish in GTS.
Built at the Porsche Motorsport in the Research and Development Department at Weissach, the Porsche 911 GT3 RS delivers 420 horsepower from its 3.6-liter normally-aspirated engine. In 1999, its first year of competition, the car finished 1-2 in class at Le Mans, and has won its class in the both the Grand Am and American Le Mans Series two years in a row. The car has also won its class three years in a row at the Daytona 24 Hours, the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. So far in 2002, the Por sche 911 GT3 RS has won all four ALMS races.
More than 80 Porsche 911 GT3 RS have been sold so far worldwide, with almost half of those cars having raced in the U.S.
The American Le Mans Series Cadillac Grand Prix of Washington, D.C. will be broadcast live on the NBC television network starting at 1:00 PM Eastern time on Sunday, July 21. The race will be broadcast in Europe on a tape-delayed basis on Sunday, July 28, at 20:00 Central European Time on the Eurosport television network. The Washington event, along with qualifying sessions starting Saturday, July 20, at 12:20 PM Eastern, will be broadcast live online on the American Le Mans Radio Network, which can be acce ssed on the Web at www.imsaracing.net. That same American Le Mans Series/IMSA web site will also have live timing and scoring during qualifying and the race event.
The official Porsche web site - www.porsche.com - will have qualifying information on the Road America event for all the Porsches entered, and will file stories and photos during and after the race. Porsche web site uses should click on "North America" fro m the home page when prompted to select a country, choose "motorsports," then "news" to find the ALMS updates. The Porsche Motorsport North America pages (www.porsche.com/motorsport) and the Porsche Cars North America media site (www.press.porsche.com - user ID and password are both the word "carrera") also have motorsports news, with the media site conta ining driver bios and team information as well.
Other Web sites that follow the ALMS events include 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), Racelines.com (www.racelines.com), EnduranceSportsCar.com (www.endurancesportscar.com), AmericanRaceFan.com (www.americanracefan.com) and Daily Sports Car (www.dailysportscar .com).