AMERICAN PORSCHE TEAMS RANK HIGH ON LE MANS GRID
ATLANTA - June 17 - The three American Porsche 911 GT3 RSR teams contending for the GT2 championship at the 73rd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans have all qualified well for the French classic, but perils lie ahead for Saturday's event.
German Porsche factory driver Mike Rockenfeller capture the GT2 pole last night in the Florida-based Alex Job Racing Porsche sponsored by BAM!, giving a lift to his co-drivers German Marc Lieb and American Leo Hindery. Second on the grid will be the Sonoma, Calif.-based Flying Lizard Motorsport Porsche, with Johannes van Overbeek/Seth Neiman/Lonnie Pechnik - all from Northern California - at the helm, just ahead of the Panoz Esperante factory car of Bill Auberlen/Scott Maxwell Robin Liddell.
Rockenfeller's pole on Yokohama tires provided a scenario in GT2 not seen at Le Mans in some time, where three different tire companies (Flying Lizards on Michelin and Panoz on Pirelli) have the top three positions.
Although he is driving for a French-based team, American Le Mans Series driver Romain Dumas, co-driving with Raymond Narac and Sebastien Dumez, put their Porsche in the fourth position, followed by the second Panoz factory racer.
The Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Porsche will start sixth on the grid after factory driver Jorg Bergmeister had an accident which substantially damaged the car. The team had to fall back on an out-lap qualifying time which put them back into the sixth position. After spending more than 12 hours in the frame shop, and many more hours in the garage, the team should be ready to go for tomorrow's 10:00 AM EDT start.
"The challenges of Le Mans are unique, and the weather is always unsure, so who starts where is not that significant here," said Uwe Brettel, president of Porsche Motorsport North America, the Santa Ana, Calif.-based firm which runs Porsche's U.S. racing operations, and is in France to support the American teams.
"Race strategy, smart tire use, good pit stops, and good decisions by the drivers - along with reliable machinery created by thorough preparation - will win this race," said Brettel, who predicted the GT2 race will not be decided until the last 45 minutes.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans will be telecast on the Speed Channel starting on Saturday, June 18, at 9:30 AM EDT. The Speed coverage will include 17.5 hours of live coverage, and when the TV goes off, fans can tune into Le Mans Radio on the internet (www.lemans.org or www.autosport.com) for commentary and scores.