Alex Job Racing Closes ALMS Chapter Tavares, Florida -- Alex Job Racing closed the American Le Mans season at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and will take a leave of absence from the series in 2007. The team has run every race in the ALMS...
Alex Job Racing Closes ALMS Chapter
Tavares, Florida -- Alex Job Racing closed the American Le Mans season at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and will take a leave of absence from the series in 2007. The team has run every race in the ALMS series since its inception.
Since 1999 Alex Job Racing has amassed 39 wins, 46 pole positions, 79 podiums, and entered 94 cars in the American Le Mans Series. The team also posted three series championships, and two 24 Hour of Le Mans wins. The team boasts six, 12 hours of Sebring victories with a record of 18 consecutive years participating in the March classic.
The 2006 ALMS season witnessed six different drivers at the helm of the number 23/Alex Job Racing/Bell Microproducts/hirewise/Porsche 996 RSR. Mike Rockenfeller, Marcel Tiemann, Klaus Graf, Robin Liddell, Graham Rahal and Dominik Farhnbacher all had their hands on the wheel of the AJR Porsche this season.
Mike Rockenfeller had a long season in GT2. "The first race of the year at Sebring pretty much outlined the rest of our year -- qualify mid-pack and have terrible luck. We were able to win at Houston from the back of the field and then the disaster at Mid-Ohio was defiantly the low point. We were able to come back at Road America and finish third and get one more podium at Laguna. We had the pace in many of the races, but our fellow competitors in the prototype classes and tough luck conspired against us all year. I was really cheering for the team at Petit when they were up two laps; I almost asked Roger Penske if I could run down there and do a stint. The AJR crew never quit, with all of the major repairs we had to do during the races, except for Mid-Ohio we never had to take the car back to the paddock, they dove in and fixed on pit road to get us back in the fight, that is the kind of team you want behind you as a driver."
Marcel Tiemann relays his thoughts on the season. "From the four races I did with the team, we could have realisticallywon three of them. First Petit and Laguna as we led each race and were at the front, I also believe we could have won Mosport. So yes, I am a bit disappointed because we couldn't show our potential in the second half of the season and none of it was because of mistakes of the mechanics. We are all professionals and have to handle situations like this, but it is not easy since we deserved better results. Mosport was a high point for me personally, I was able to better the pace of the Ferrari and could keep them behind us until he forced his way thru and got penalized. In my opinion the GT2 is the hardest class in the ALMS. It has the most cars and strongest drivers. I drove in many different categories and races, but this is probably one of the hardest to win."
"We had a very rough road in the ALMS this season," explains Alex Job. "Every year since 1999 we have been able to win at least three races, except for 2000 when we won twice, that shows how tough a year it was for the team. Starting at Sebring, which is typically a very strong race for our team, we had a mechanical issue due to some contact that we received during the race resulting in a lengthy repair and a disappointing finish. Our Houston outing was a very solid performance. Klaus and Mike drove a very strong race to come from the back of the grid and give our operation its 50th win in our 18 year history. The rest of our year was clouded by on track incidents and our different drivers playing catch-up with the handling of the Porsche. The new Ferrari's proved to be very fast and the Lizard team really came out this season with a strong effort. White Lightning showed once again their strength.JWe had excellent support from Bell Microproducts and hirewise all year.JIt will be a sad day for me when Sebring rolls around in March, having made 18 consecutive starts there with at least one car."
Sebring International Raceway, qualified 4th, finished 6th
Mike Rockenfeller was able to race the #23/Alex Job Racing/Bell Mircroproducts/hirewise/Porsche into second place on the very first lap. The competitiveness of the AJR Porsche shined early with Rockenfeller jockeying for the lead the first hour of the race. Upon handing over to Klaus Graf on lap 36, the German was able to lead the class until contact with a P2 car in turn 14 stopped his run at the front. Graf was able to recover, only to have a tire go down into turn one sending him toward the tire barrier. This contact would later come back to haunt the team's attempt for their seventh Sebring victory.
Seventeen year old Graham Rahal took over from Graf three hours into the race. The road racing prodigy was able to quickly get up to speed and improve some three places from where he received the car. On lap 99 his climb back to the top of the GT2 scoring was thwarted when a flat left front tire forced him to pit.
Each of the three AJR drivers endured flat tires. The final blow to the team's chances to remain at the front was a failing right front control-arm precipitated by the early race Graf contact with the P2 car. The crew replaced the right front corner and returned the car to the fight some 10 laps down. Rockenfeller and Graf were able to make up ground and finish nine laps down to the eventual GT2 winner gaining valuable points toward the season ending championship.
Grand Prix of Houston, qualified 4th, finished 1st
Mike Rockenfeller started the number 23/Alex Job Racing/Bell Microproducts
/hirewise/Porsche 911 RSR from the last row on the grid. The team's fourth place qualifying effort was negated due to the decision to start on new tires as opposed to those that they qualified on. Rockenfeller wasted no time raging to the front of the GT2 field. Within 16-laps he was in second place, within a second of the class lead. On lap 55 the leading Ferrari pitted and the young German assumed the lead. Turning over to Klaus Graf on lap 75 for the team's only pit stop, the AJR crew was able to return the veteran road racer to the GT2 lead. From that point, Graf ran fast and consistent lap times to increase the distance to second place by a lap at the end of the race.
Mid-Ohio Sportscar Course, qualified 7th, Finish - did not start
Mike Rockenfeller was behind the wheel for the start; the German was able to make the first of two pace laps when on the second he noticed a problem with the shifting of the number 23/Alex Job Racing/Bell Microproducts/hirewise/Porsche RSR. He pitted the car and the team immediately took the car back to the garage for repair. The resulting problem was a weld breaking that holds the shift cable linkage to the transmission. The repair could not be made in time for the drivers to complete 70% of the race distance to score points.
Lime Rock Park, qualified 6th, finished 9th
As a result of changing tires following qualifying, Klaus Graf had to start the number 23/Alex Job Racing/Bell Microproducts/hirewise/Porsche from the last row of the grid. The German was making steady progress through the GT2 field taking the Porsche way up to third position in class by lap 48.
On lap 50 going into turn one, Graf was hit by the number 51 Panoz and sustained heavy right rear damage. The Alex Job Racing crew set about changing the entire right rear suspension assembly and was able to return the car to the battle in time to make 70% distance to score points.
Miller Motorsport Park, qualified 8th, finished 4th
Mike Rockenfeller started the number 23/Alex Job Racing/Bell Microproducts/hirewise/Porsche RSR from the last row of the GT2 grid due to a being too low, one-half of a millimeter, in post qualifying technical inspection. The young Germany was able to move through the field and into third place by lap 12. By lap 33 Rockenfeller had made up the prerace deficit to reach second place.
On lap 35 Klaus Graf took over the Porsche in second place and proceeded to gap the number 31 car in third by some 11 seconds. At the two-hour-and-twenty-minute mark the first full caution flew bunching up the field. On lap 58 the field was back under green with Graf being pressured for second. On lap 61 going into turn seven the veteran road racer went off and returned to the circuit in fourth position, with only minutes remaining the team just missed the podium.
Portland International Raceway, qualify 3rd, finish 7th
New comer Robin Liddell started the number 23/Alex Job Racing/Bell Microproducts/hirewise/Porsche 911 RSR from the second row in GT2. The Festival Turns lived up to their reputation of causing havoc on the first turn of the race. Liddell was positioning himself for the first turn with little room to maneuver when one of the BMWs came across his bow forcing him into the back of the Ferrari. Under heavy braking the Scot got the Porsche sideways. In the melee he was shuffled to the back of the pack, but was able to claw his way into fifth before turning over to Mike Rockenfeller.
Rockenfeller proceeded to bring the AJR number 23 back up to third position. During the latter part of his stint the rubber bits deposited on the track accumulated on the Michelin's affecting lap times. With less than 20-minutes remaining the young German had to pit for a splash of fuel and also took tires to try and keep a top five finish. A strong vibration in the left rear caused Rockenfeller to return to pit road for a new tire sealing the team's fate in seventh.
Road America, qualify 2nd, finish 3rd
Mike Rockenfeller started the number 23/Bell Microproducts/Alex Job Racing/hirewise/Porsche 911 RSR from the first row. The young German was able to takeover the number one position during the first caution period. On lap 33 Rockenfeller handed the car over to teammate Marcel Tiemann, the elder German returned to the battle in fourth position.
Tiemann was able to hold fourth place, then on lap 57 he experienced a puncture going into turn six, he had to nurse the Porsche around almost three miles to the pits. During the pit stop Rockenfeller took the wheel back over and had a rocket restart on the last caution to pass the number 61 car, from some nine seconds back, to take the last podium position.
Mosport International Raceway, qualify 8th, finish 8th
Under clearing skies from the remnants of tropical storm Ernesto, Marcel Tiemann pulled away from the grid in the number 23/Alex Job Racing/Bell Microproducts/hirewise/Porsche from dead last on the field due to teammate Mike Rockenfeller missing practice on the weekend.
Marcel Tiemann was quick to make up six positions in the opening laps of the two-hour-and-forty-five-minute race. Tiemann navigated early race carnage and diced with a Ferrari for most of his stint. The Ferrari tried an optimistic pass in the last turn on lap 49, getting by the German and then ran Tiemann to the wall. Tiemann was able to keep the position going into turn one.J
Rockenfeller joined the fray in fifth place at the half-way point, but had to come back to the pits with an ill handling car. The Alex Job Racing crew diagnosed the problem as a broken right rear shock which was damaged as a result of the Ferrari contact just a few laps prior. The repair cost the team five laps sealing their eighth place finish.
Petit Le Mans, qualify 10th, finish 8th
Robin Liddell started the number 23/Alex Job Racing/Bell Microproducts/hirewise/Porsche 911 from tenth place on the GT2 grid. The Scot was able to put in a stellar drive and take the number 23 car to the front before turning over to Marcel Tiemann.
Tiemann was able to maintain the pace and increase the team's lead before handing over to Dominik Farnbacher. Farnbacher also put in a strong performance to keep the AJR 911 RSR in the lead although under pressure from a much more experienced competitor.
On lap 222 Liddell was ready to pit under green, with a one lap lead on the GT2 field. As soon as he entered pit road, a full course caution ensued and the pits were closed. An excellent call by the team to have the Scot come in and shut-off the motor and then restart and rejoin the fray without service proved to be the call of the race until that point. The drive-thru in effect put the team up two laps to the competition at five-hours into the race.
The team enjoyed the two lap gap for about an hour before Tiemann was heading into the fast downhill turn 10 and the right-front control arm broke sending him into the gravel. The German was able to drive out of the trap and bring the car to pits. The crew made repairs returning Farnbacher to the race some 17-laps down. What had been a two lap lead turned into a 30-minute deficit in a matter of an hour.
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Qualify 2nd, Finish 3rd
Mike Rockenfeller started the number 23/Alex Job Racing/Bell Microproducts/hirewise/Porsche 996 from the front row, on the strength of his excellent qualifying effort yesterday. The young German passed the pole sitting Ferrari into turn one and then was hit by the same car two turns later, sending him back to sixth. By lap eight Rockenfeller was able to make his way back up to second and then assumed the lead on lap 62.J
Rockenfeller turned the Bell Microproducts Porsche over the Marcel Tiemann on lap 65. Tiemann was able to immediately gap the second place Ferrari by nine-seconds while leading up to the races third caution period. On the restart of that same caution period, Tiemann had contact with a P1 and GT2 car going into turn six, which caused a flat tire sending the German to the pits. Rockenfeller completed the run and brought the car home in third for the team's third podium finish of the year.