VIR: Porsche preview

PORSCHE DP AND GT TEAMS HEAD TO VIRGINIA WITH DAYTONA WINS NOW A DISTANT PAST ATLANTA - April 23 - The winning Porsche Daytona Prototype and Rolex Grand-Am GT cars have long- since cleaned the confetti from their Rolex 24 at Daytona winners...

PORSCHE DP AND GT TEAMS HEAD TO VIRGINIA WITH DAYTONA WINS NOW A DISTANT PAST

ATLANTA - April 23 - The winning Porsche Daytona Prototype and Rolex Grand-Am GT cars have long- since cleaned the confetti from their Rolex 24 at Daytona winners circle appearances, and now have to settle down to the business of the rest of the 2009 season. Still, winning the Daytona 24-Hour classic is a significant event, and should gives teams momentum going into Round Two this weekend at Virginia International Raceway.

The Bosch Engineering 250 at VIR will take place on Saturday, April 25th, with the green flag set to drop at 2:30 PM EDT. The race is set for 250 miles (or two hours, 45 minutes) with live coverage on SPEED TV scheduled from 2:30 - 5:30 PM EDT. Fans can also follow along with Grand-Am's live scoring at www.grand-am.com, which will also show qualifying live tomorrow (Friday, April 24) at 4:00 PM EDT.

"The Porsche customers in the Rolex Grand-Am series really started off the season in fine fashion with both DP and GT wins," said Paul Ritchie, president of Porsche Motorsport North America, "but the hard work is yet to come. While the Brumos Racing and Penske Racing Porsche Rileys performed exceptionally on the track, we only beat the Lexus by less than half a second, and new rules have left us with less top-end speed. On the GT side, both the Pontiacs and the Mazdas showed their potential , and it took great effort from TRG and Wright Motorsports to complete a sweep of the class podium. With 11 races left in the season, we're sure that our competitors will present big challenges for the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars on the track."

Brumos Racing captured Daytona Prototype honors in Round 1 of the 2009 campaign, with David Donohue and Darren Law (both USA) - joined by guest drivers Antonio Garcia (Spain) and Buddy Rice (USA) - winning the Rolex 24 At Daytona by .167-seconds, the closest finish in the 47-year history of the event.

"As my dad would say, the parking meter goes back to zero at midnight," said Donohue, whose father - the late Mark Donohue - won the 1969 edition of the Daytona endurance classic.

"It's back to square one. Our guys have been working very hard for seven seasons now; there's no letting up in this business. We'll do the best we can at VIR. We're at the point where we know what to expect when we show up at a race track - especially one we've been to before."

Brumos Racing returns a solid two-car effort to VIR, with Joao Barbosa (Portugal) and JC France (USA) co-driving the team's flagship No. 59 Porsche Riley. The pair were joined by Terry Borcheller (USA) and American legend Hurley Haywood in finishing third in the Rolex 24.

While Brumos has enjoyed celebrating their Rolex 24 success, they have also been working hard to adapt to the post-Daytona Grand-Am rule change affecting the Porsche's specifications changes. This weekend's race will see Porsche DPs competing for the first time with a five-speed transmission rather than six, along with reduced RPM. Both Brumos cars took advantage of last month's test days at Homestead to work on adapting to the new specifications and fine-tuning set-up of the cars. The team's level of determination remains high, as they plan to carry their momentum from 2008 and the Rolex 24 win throughout the rest of their 2009 season.

Darren Law, reflected on the return to action, saying "Brumos has done well at VIR often in the past, and we have been hard at work since Daytona getting ready for this race, so we will hope to see a repeat of our past successes there. We are in a good position in points and it is still very early in the season, so we feel confident. Mostly, I think we are all just really looking forward to getting back to racing again."

"The Porsche DPs have had some rule changes since the Rolex 24, so we really don't know what to expect," Law noted. But we know where we need to be fast and not need to be fast. I have my mental preparation for each track keyed on which parts are more important."

Brumos' success at VIR dates back to 1971, when the renowned Haywood/Gregg duo scored the first of back-to-back IMSA GT Championships at that track wearing the famous Porsche tangerine livery. In a unique tribute, the late Bob Snodgrass instituted a tradition in which his Brumos cars carried a flash of their tangerine heritage whenever they raced at VIR. That tradition will be upheld again this year, not only to salute their past victories, but now also in remembrance of Snodgrass himself, as the team marks the second anniversary of their leader's unexpected death on April 24th.

Penske Racing, with new sponsorship and livery from Verizon Wireless, will try to improve on their sixth place Daytona finish, and get back onto the champion chase in Daytona Prototype. Porsche factory drivers Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France) have big plans for the second race of the season: After their bad luck in Daytona, the drivers want to keep their title chances open with a top placing.

"For us the season really takes off now. After the rule changes, everything is more difficult. The gearing is no longer optimal and, of course, we also notice the power loss. Now we have to see how we and the team can best cope with this."

The 3.27-mile race track in the Southern Virginia is extremely demanding, which suits not only Timo Bernhard, but Romain Dumas also hopes he can compensate for the disadvantages resulting from the rule changes.

"It's a drivers' track that's difficult but huge fun," he says. "Timo and I feel particularly good on such circuits."

Porsche also enjoys strong representation in the GT class, with seven customer Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Grand-Am sports cars entered. Four are prepared by Kevin Buckler's TRG team, for which the Porsche works drivers Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA) joined TRG regulars Andy Lally (USA), Justin Marks (USA), and veteran R.J. Valentine (USA) to win the GT class at Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona in January. Lally and Marks will try to further their points lead in the No. 67 TRG Porsche, while the second-place TRG Porsche at Daytona, the No. 66 Porsche of Ted Ballou and Spencer Pumpelly (both USA) - which ran with guest Porsche works drivers Emmanuel Collard. (France) and Richard Lietz (Austria) along with TRG regular Tim George, Jr. (USA) - will also be trying to distance themselves from their Pontiac and Mazada rivals. John Potter/Craig Stanton and Scott Schroeder/Josemanuel Gutierrez round out the other two TRG driving pairs.

Farnbacher Loles Racing will field two of the 428-horsepower Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race cars, and team principal Greg Loles is striving to get back to the form that helped them win the Rolex Grand-Am GT championship in 2007.

"While the points you earn at Daytona are important, VIR really marks the beginning of the season for those teams that are running the full series. We're really excited about the driver pairings we've put together this year. We'll have five different cars running this year, two of which will be campaigning the full season and both have to be considered title contenders."

"In the #86 Porsche GT3 Cup, Eric Lux (USA) is teamed with Porsche factory driver Wolf Henzler (Germany). Even at his young age, Eric is a veteran of the series and has proven himself by running at the front at every track we run on including a podium finish at VIR in 2008. And Wolf is arguably one of the most talented sports car drivers on the planet, having won races and championships in the American Le Mans Series, the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup Series, and the SCCA World Challenge . He's been with us in various capacities since we started this program more than four years ago and he's like family."

"Driving the #87 Porsche are Leh Keen and Dirk Werner. Leh is one of those rare individuals who will drive anything and drive it well. He co-drove to a podium finish with Eric last year in this race and he is a fierce competitor. Dirk was little known in North America at the time, but he really proved himself in the series in 2007 when he swept the Rolex Grand-Am series wards, winning the driver's championship, team championship and Rookie of the Year. The whole team is fired up and looking to get back to the track," said Loles.

The Synergy Racing team, which has its race shop at VIR, will enter a Porsche for Cary, Kevin and Milton Grant (all USA).

-credit: porsche

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Antonio Garcia , Emmanuel Collard , Kevin Buckler , Andy Lally , Terry Borcheller , Hurley Haywood , Darren Law , David Donohue , JC France , Timo Bernhard , Joao Barbosa , Patrick Long , Buddy Rice , Justin Marks , Spencer Pumpelly , Milton Grant , Craig Stanton , Romain Dumas , Bob Snodgrass , Wolf Henzler , Lehman Keen , Eric Lux , Dirk Werner , Ted Ballou , Scott Schroeder , John Potter , Mark Donohue
Teams Team Penske , Wright Motorsports