PORSCHE DRIVERS IN ALMS, PATRON GT3 CHALLENGE CONVERGE ON MONTEREY Porsche RS Spyder fastest overall in first official practice on Thursday Atlanta - May 20 - After outlasting the bumpy airport course at the 12 Hours of Sebring, and surviving...
PORSCHE DRIVERS IN ALMS, PATRON GT3 CHALLENGE CONVERGE ON MONTEREY
Porsche RS Spyder fastest overall in first official practice on Thursday
Atlanta - May 20 - After outlasting the bumpy airport course at the 12 Hours of Sebring, and surviving the tight turns and concrete barriers through the streets of Long Beach, the Porsche drivers and teams will turn their attention to one of North American's classic road courses - the 2.238-mile, 11-turn sports car track known as Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
The event, round number three of the 2010 American Le Mans Series, will be an six-hour endurance race, with the green flag dropping on Saturday, May 22, at 5:30 PM Eastern Daylight time. Although CBS-TV will carry an edited version of the race on Saturday, May 29 (1:30 PM - 3:00 PM Eastern time), ALMS will provide all six hours live with streaming video on its web site starting Saturday, May 22, at 5:30 PM Eastern time. There is a catch - you have to register on the site in advance to see the broadcast as there are only 10,000 spots open. Go to www.americanlemans.com/live to register. The streaming video will be linked to the ALMS web radio broadcast for the virtual live TV experience - the viewer will also be able to follow live scoring on a split-screen arrangement.
In the LMP sports prototype class, the Cytosport team, headquartered in nearby Benicia, Calif. runs the Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder, with which the squad claimed class victory at the season-opener in Sebring and celebrated its greatest success in the American Le Mans Series by now. Klaus Graf (Germany) and former Porsche factory driver Sascha Maassen (Germany) share the cockpit of the #6 vehicle, and they will be joined by former Champ Car and Grand-Am star Memo Gidley, who replaces car owner Greg Pickett, whose Muscle Milk business has prevented him from running the race weekend. The Mexican-born American Gidley has run three previous races with Cytosport in the American Le Mans Series (when the team had Lola prototypes).
In the first offical practice session Thursday, Graf set the fastest time overall with a lap of 1:15.444 in the Muscle Milk Team CytoSport Porsche RS Spyder, a car that has had great success at this track. In fact, co-driver Sascha Maassen - a three-time class winner at the circuit - won the LMP2 class in the car's maiden voyage in 2005. Maassen had the overall pole in the Penske RS Spyder in 2007.
In the GT class, driving the #45 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR fielded by Flying Lizard Motorsports, Porsche works drivers Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA), who claimed their first win of the season in Long Beach, are anxious to maintain their GT class points' lead at the "race into darkness."
The track, with its many corners and short straights is something very special for drivers and spectators.
"This is a great track," last year's winner Joerg Bergmeister says about the circuit, with its world-famous corkscrew combination which winds sharply downhill from the highest point of the track. Drivers approach the corkscrew in fifth gear at 210 kph and suddenly see only sky.
"At this point there are a couple of trees we use for orientation. We always need a couple of laps to get the hang of this corner," said Bergmeister, fresh from the 24 Hours of the Nurburgring, where his team led for 15 hours in the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid.
Last year, in the final race of the season, with the championship on the line, the Porsche factory drivers managed this perfectly. Only in the last seconds of the highly dramatic race, the #45 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR snatched its sixth win of the season and went on to claim the title. But this year, the situation looks different: The race has been moved from October to May and now runs over six hours, that's two hours longer than last year. Patrick Long sees the extended race distance from a positive perspective:
"The longer the race the more points there are to earn. We are tied with the Ferrari drivers, and the Corvette and BMW teams are right on our heals. This is almost a must-win event for use -only three races into the season," said Long.
Also eager to profit from this is his works driver colleague, Wolf Henzler (Germany), who shares driving duties with Byran Sellers (USA) at the wheel of the #17 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Team Falken Tire.
"In May, it's much warmer than in October and that will have an effect on the tire choice," Henzler says about the changed conditions. "Presumably we'll need tires that aren't quite as quick over one lap but that can better withstand the heat."
After contesting only two races for his new team, the squad is looking forward to testing different tire compounds in order to be optimally prepared for the race. Hopes are high for their first podium result in the American Le Mans Series. Wolf Henzler is pleased with the progress his team is making: "The signs look very promising."
Manning the second Flying Lizard Motorsports 911 GT3 RSR with the starting #44 are Darren Law (USA) and Seth Neiman (USA), who will be joined for this longer event by Porsche factory driver and multi-time ALMS champion Timo Bernhard.
Porsche and Honda are tied for the lead in the LMP manufacturers engine championship points after two events.
In the ALMS GT Challenge class, where ten Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars will battle for full championship points, class leaders Juan Gonzales (Mexico) and Butch Leitzinger (USA) will try to make it three wins in a row in the #81 Mission Foods Alex Job Racing Porsche. They will receive long-race assistance from Rudy Junco, Jr. (Mexico). Second in the points is another Alex Job Racing entry, the Porsche of Bill Sweedler and Romeo Kapudjia, who had victory in hand at Long Beach until a last-lap spin handed the win to their teammates. Bill and Romeo are joined by Jan-Dirk Lueders. Other well-known drivers in the GTC class include reigning Porsche Cup champion Jeroen Bleekemolen, World-Challenge star James Sofronas, recent Nurburgring 24 Hour class winner Shane Lewis, Grand-Am and NASCAR truck racer Andy Lally, Grand-Am and Patron GT3 mutiple race winner Bryce Miller, recent Rolex 24 winner Terry Borcheller and multi-race Patron GT3 winner Galen Bieker.
In rounds three and four (Saturday and Sunday, respectively) of the Patron GT3 Challenge by Yokohama, a series in matched Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars for drivers who do not make their living in auto racing, Ross Smith, from Cresson, TX, has jumped into the points lead after winning the first two rounds at Sebring in March. Javier Quiros, from Costa Rica, is second in the standings, with second and fourth-place finishes at Sebring in his AASCO Motorsports Porsche. The Patron events, two 45-minute sprint races, will boast an entry of 34 cars in two classes - the Platinum Cup Class for 2010 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, and the Gold Cup Class for 2005 - 2009 Porsches.
-source: porsche motorsports