INDIANAPOLIS, IN -- September 30 - After sitting on the pole yesterday and finishing second when Sascha Maassen got by him early in the race, newly-crown 2001 Porsche-Pirelli Supercup champion Jorg Bergmeister grabbed the early lead from ...
INDIANAPOLIS, IN -- September 30 - After sitting on the pole yesterday and finishing second when Sascha Maassen got by him early in the race, newly-crown 2001 Porsche-Pirelli Supercup champion Jorg Bergmeister grabbed the early lead from pole-sitter Maassen today to win the final round of the series at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Bergmesiter, who clinched the championship on Saturday, scored his seventh victory of the season and his 10th podium finish in 12 events. His winning ways started with the Sunday race last year at Indy, when he scored his first Porsche-Pirelli Supercup win. All 18 competitors were driving identically-prepared Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, with their 3.6-liter engines producing 370 horsepower.
At the start of the race, Maassen, Bergmesiter, Wolf Henzler and former Le Mans winner Stephane Ortelli all dove into turn #1 together, but Bergmesiter established inside position and edged out Massen and Ortelli for the lead. For the next 12 laps, Sascha tried to pass inside, outside, and even side-by-side for the lead, but Bergmeister held fast in front. Finally, while trying to pass at turn #1 on lap #12, Maassen's nose touched the back of Bergmeister's car, damaging Maassen's radiator, causing it to spring a leak.
"On the last lap, the hot temperature light came on, so I slowed down to make sure I could finish the race without melting the engine," said Maassen, who goes right from this event to Road Atlanta for the American Le Mans Series' finale, Petit Le Mans, to drive the Alex Job Racing McKenna Porsche 911 GT3 RS.
Bergmesiter said Maassen tapped him three times during the race, but he made sure he held on to the car and maintain his lead.
"I knew he would take the lead like he did yesterday if I made even a little mistake, so I was determined to give him full concentration and not let him by," said Bergmesiter, who hopes to get a sports car or FIA GT ride for next season.
Stephane Ortelli finished third, Alex Zampedri fourth, and Tim Bergmeister, Jorg's older brother, was fifth.
Of the Americans in the event, 19 year-old Gunnar Jeannette, who felt he had a good first race lap, was forced out of the race when he spun on the banking trying to pass Nicolas Kropp, and was hit by IRL champion Sam Hornish. Hornish was able to continue with minor front-end damage, but Jeannette's car suffered terminal cooling system punctures, eliminating him from competition. Hornish, who felt much more comfortable today driving the Porsche, thought he could be competitive with "three or four days" of additional testing.
David Donohue also felt more comfortable in the car in today's race, again finishing eight as he did on Saturday. He pointed out that the drivers in the Porsche-Pirelli SuperCup were not entry-level competitors, but world-class, experienced racers.
"Stephane Ortelli, Le Mans winner; Marc Werner, Daytona 24 Hour winner; Alex Zampedri -- CART race winner; and Sascha Maasen, ALMS race winner are hard to catch and hard to pass it they get ahead of you. I was pleased just to keep up with this crowd," said Donohue.
Terry Lingner, owner of Lingner Productions in Indianapolis and veteran ESPN television race producer, finished 11th overall, and was pleased with his performance.
"I had great fun out there, and I know I could have cracked the top ten if the race had gone on another hour or so," joked Lingner, who fulfilled a personal dream by racing both at Le Mans and Indianapolis this year.
The Porsche-Pirellie Supercup series will be back at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2002 to again support the running of the United States Grand Prix.