Daytona 24: Porsche Thursday qualifying notes

Classic Porsche-Ferrari battle forms for Rolex 24 at Daytona. -Thursday's qualifying leaves three Porsche 911 GT3 RS racers and two -Ferrari 360GTs in the top five on the GT class grid; Marc Lieb has the pole -in the Orbit Racing ...

Classic Porsche-Ferrari battle forms for Rolex 24 at Daytona.

-Thursday's qualifying leaves three Porsche 911 GT3 RS racers and two -Ferrari 360GTs in the top five on the GT class grid; Marc Lieb has the pole -in the Orbit Racing Porsche-

DAYTONA BEACH, FL. -- January 31 -- Marc Lieb, a 22 year-old Porsche factory driver from Niefern, Germany, has captured the GT class pole in the #43 Orbit Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RS for Saturday's 41h running of the Rolex 24.

Lieb, who has never run a Daytona's banked stock car track before, took to the course quickly during test days earlier this month by turning the fastest practice times, but was pleased to be able to do the same under competitive pressure.

"My factory teammates -- Sascha Maassen and Timo Bernhard -- are also racing very fast Porsches, and we all qualified within one second of each other. I feel fortunate to take the pole position as I made mistakes on the qualifying lap, but it is good to kno w I can still improve for the race," said Lieb, who will share driving duties with NASCAR star Kyle Petty, Peter Baron and Leo Hindery.

"Those Ferraris are less than a second behind us, and they both have strong driver line-ups, so I think we will have a battle that will last the whole race," said Lieb.

Second on the grid is the #98 Schumacher Racing/Champion Porsche 911 GT3 RS, which was qualified by American Le Mans Series co-champion Sascha Maassen, from Raeren, Belgium (originally from Germany as well). Maassen and Lucas Luhr have joined American ve terans Larry Schumacher and Martin Snow to form a strong Daytona 24 hour team.

Last year's Rolex 24 GT class champions, Kevin Buckler/Jorg Bergmeister/Timo Bernhard/Michael Schrom, qualified third with Bernhard at the wheel in the 2003 The Racer's Group Porsche 911 GT3 RS. The Ralf Kelleners/Johnny Mowlem/Anthony Lazzarro Ferrari is fourth, and the Cort Wagner/Brent Martini/Sylvain Tremblay/Selby Wellman are fifth in another Ferrari.

In the new Daytona Prototype class, the #58 Brumos Racing Fabcar powered by Porsche and qualified by David Donohue was second in class, only two-tenths of a second behind the David Brabham/Scott Maxwell/David Empringham Ford. Helping Donohue for the race will be Randy Pobst, Mike Borkowski, and Chris Bye. The #59 Brumos Fabcar was third in class, with Hurley Haywood/Scott Sharp/Scott Goodyear/J.C. France sharing the driving duties for the race.

Other top Porsche qualifiers included the MAC Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RS from Italy with David Terrien/Didier Moinel Delalande/Marco Saviozzi/Gianluca De Lorenzi as drivers (sixth in GT); Proton Competition Porsche 911 GT 2 from Germany with Mauro Casadei/C hristian Ried/Manfred Juraz/Gerold Ried driving (tenth in GTS); Orbit Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RS of Joe Policastro/Jaye Policastro/Mike Fitzgerald/Manuel Matos (eighth in GT); Seikel Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RS of Fabio Rosa/Gabrio Rosa/Alex Caffi/Andrea Chiesa (ninth in GT); and the NETTTS Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RS of Mark Greenberg/Jim Nelson/Barry Bresinger (tenth in GT).

In all, there are 18 GT entries so far at Daytona, with 11 of them being Porsche 911 GT3 RS race cars.

The 2003 Rolex 24 at Daytona will be televised live -- the first eight hours and the last seven hours -- on The Speed Channel starting at 12:30 PM Eastern time on Saturday, February 1. Speedvision will telecast a 30-minute pre-race show followed by the gree n flag at 1:00 PM, and will stay with the race until 9:00 PM. The network will then pick up the event on Sunday morning at 6:00 AM, and carry it through the checkered flag at 1:00 PM -- plus the victory circle and post-race celebration. Also, the more than 110 affiliates of the Motor Racing Network (MRN) nationally will provide coverage on the radio -- check local listings for time in your area.

The official Porsche media web site -- www.press.porsche.com -- will have qualifying information for the Rolex 24 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 "motorsports news" and "24 Hours of Daytona" to find the Rolex 24 updates. The same information is posted for consumers on Porsche's main site www.porsche.com/motorsport (click on Porsche Motorsports North Americ a and "race reports").

The most extensive coverage for all the classes at the Rolex 24 and the Grand-Am series is the official Grand-Am web site (www.grandamerican.com), where fans can follow the race with live timing and scoring on-line. Other Web sites that will follow the Ro lex 24 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.motor sport-news.com), Crash.net (www.crash.net), racinglines.com (www.racinglines.com), EnduranceSportsCar.com (www.endurancesportscar.com), pitstop.com (www.pitstop.com); AmericanRaceFan.com (www.americanracefan.com) and Daily Sports Car (www.dailysportscar. com).

-porsche-

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Series Grand-Am
Drivers Kyle Petty , David Brabham , Scott Sharp , Scott Goodyear , Randy Pobst , Sascha Maassen , Lucas Luhr , Scott Maxwell , Kevin Buckler , Leo Hindery , Peter Baron , Hurley Haywood , David Donohue , Timo Bernhard , Michael Schrom , Sylvain Tremblay , David Terrien , Chris Bye , Johnny Mowlem , Marc Lieb , Alex Caffi , Fabio Rosa , Andrea Chiesa , Mauro Casadei , Martin Snow , Gerold Ried , Brent Martini , Mark Greenberg , Didier Moinel Delalande , Selby Wellman , Manuel Matos , J.C. Fra