Orbit Racing Le Mans test preview

twos and threes Orbit Racing has been invited to compete in the prestigious 24 Heures du Mans scheduled for June 14 and 15 in Le Mans, France. It is the second- consecutive invitation for the young Florida team, after just two full seasons of...

twos and threes

Orbit Racing has been invited to compete in the prestigious 24 Heures du Mans scheduled for June 14 and 15 in Le Mans, France. It is the second- consecutive invitation for the young Florida team, after just two full seasons of racing in North America.

Leo Hindery of New York, Peter Baron of Deerfield Beach, Fla., and Marc Lieb of Niefern, Germany, will join forces for the third time this season, driving the No. 87 YES Network Porsche 911 GT3 RS. The trio started the season from the GT pole position at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and finished fourth in class. They posted the fastest class times in two sessions at the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, but retired from the race with a technical problem. They hope race three will be a strong showing at Le Mans.

"To race at Le Mans is the greatest thrill any sports-car racer can realize, and it is an honor for our Orbit car and team to be re-invited back to this magical place and race," Hindery said. "Peter Baron and I were humbled by our experience last year - humbled first to have been invited and then humbled by our eventual mechanical breakdown - but with Marc Lieb, our new partner at Orbit, we hope this year we will only be humbled by having been re-invited."

French experience

Hindery and Baron drove together at Le Mans in 2002. They qualified fifth in GT and finished seventh, in Orbit Racing's first Le Mans start. Baron said the experience gives the team more confidence this year.

"The whole purpose last year was to gain experience and knowledge about running the event - learning the track, seeing what the pace is like and discovering what car setup is required on the famous blindingly fast circuit," he said. "We learned a fair amount. We'll be able to go back to Le Mans with a decent setup and drivers who know the track and know what it's going to take to win the race. We have a great foundation from last year and have made vast improvements in the off-season, which showed at Daytona and Sebring."

rookie view

Lieb is competing in his first 24 Heures du Mans, but he knows how to max the power of a Porsche. He won the Porsche Carrera Cup championship in 2002 and started this year with three pole positions and a podium finish. He will follow a careful strategy to prepare for the realization of his childhood dream - to race at Le Mans in a Porsche.

"Le Mans is so different from all other tracks, it will be hard to get used to it in the beginning. The priority is definitely to learn the circuit with all the bends and corners," he said. "It's a big dream come true! I watched all the 24-hour races when I was a kid and I was always fascinated with the Porsches. I dreamed of racing here one day and now that it's happening, I am really excited. A big thank-you to Porsche and Orbit, who make that all possible."

team notes

Orbit Racing (www.orbitracing.com)
Orbit Racing is a multi-faceted business that includes a successful sports- car race team, a race preparation and parts store, a high-performance Porsche parts distributorship and an engine and chassis building and tuning facility. In addition to maxing the performance of the team's Porsche 911 GT3 RS race cars, the Orbit crew fine-tunes some of the most exotic Porsche cars on the road, from the Porsche 911 GT3 to the Porsche 911 Turbo.

The team has progressed from top-10 finishes to top-fives to podiums and victory in just two seasons of sports-car racing. Orbit had a successful debut at the 24 Heures du Mans last year, qualifying fifth and finishing seventh in GT, and ranked third in the American Le Mans Series GT standings.

The success is due to team owner Rodger Hawley, who blends a lifelong passion for Porsches with a keen engineering talent. His professional operation draws the best in the business - a dedicated crew who know teamwork is the key to victory.

driver notes

Peter Baron

says four factors contribute to race success - brain power, engineering, competition and choice of cars; driver speed is cerebral - "What makes one driver faster than the other is pure mental power."

has degrees in finance and economics; worked in financial analysis and applications in several industries including pharmaceuticals and high- technology; one job included responsibility for corporate finance operations in East European countries

uses finance background to improve team operations - "We have hard-core financial applications. We can tick and tie to the penny where we spend our money, and we can pick and choose where to spend pennies better. We can keep budgets down, just knowing where we spend money and how we can spend it more effectively."

started playing tennis at age four and was going to be a tennis pro, "But then I figured out I'm not one of the lucky seven or eight naturally blessed people. I was not going to make a career of tennis, but I was able to go through college playing tennis. Once I got out, I didn't want to see a tennis racket again. Now I get nauseous if I see a spaghetti strainer."

helmet design started with doodling; "The brighter colors stick out better. You definitely know it's me when I'm in the car."

Leo Hindery

CEO and founder of the Yankees Entertainment and Sports (YES) Network, has ownership interest in Petty Enterprises and is co-author of The Biggest Game of All: the inside strategies, tactics, and temperaments that make great dealmakers great

was the leading force in developing cable sports television and was involved in the strategy and launch of SPEED Channel; has also served as an advisor to NASCAR since 1997, and guided the negotiation of NASCAR's recent eight-year national broadcast agreement

racing and baseball - "When you finally pull out of the pit, it's you and the car. At that one moment, it's like being in the batter's box at Yankee Stadium. When that pitch is coming at you, you've got to hit it. You've got to drive this car."

"I've never, ever enjoyed anything recreationally like I enjoy racing. It's the team aspect - the person who changes the tires is as passionate and important as the person who has the privilege of driving. In so many other parts of our lives, we encounter people who are there because they have to be. Nobody is here who doesn't love racing. That's truly unique."

co-chairs UN AIDS and Russia-U.S. AIDS project - "I believe this disease will alter foreign affairs and policies throughout the globe. We've never encountered anything that decimates populations like this. You have to be overwhelmed by its humanitarian impact."

Marc Lieb

watched Le Mans as a child and wanted to race a Porsche, now is a Porsche factory driver, competing in 28 races this year in the American Le Mans Series, FIA GT Championship and Porsche Supercup

family sport is soccer - father, uncle and grandfather were all goalkeepers; Marc also started as a goalkeeper at age 11 and still plays in hobby tournaments

chose racing over soccer - "You can play soccer when you go out the door, but with racing you have to take the race car or go-kart, put it on the trailer and drive a few hundred kilometers to the race track. It was all a bit more exciting than soccer."

planned to stop racing at the end of 1999 due to lack of funding, then was invited to a Porsche junior competition - "It was really, really hard - three days of physical and mental testing, English tests and driving tests. I won the competition and it was unbelievable. The last three years on the junior team were really, really hard, but I enjoyed it so much. It was the first time I could just concentrate on racing and improve myself."

has mastered the family tradition of making spaetzle

-or/sp-

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About this article
Series Le Mans
Drivers Leo Hindery , Peter Baron , Marc Lieb