2007 LMP2-LEADING PORSCHE RS SPYDERS AIM FOR FIFTH CLASS WIN AS ALMS HEADS FOR ONLY NORTHEAST APPEARANCE; PORSCHE 911 GT3 RSR TEAMS SEEK FIRST WIN AT LIME ROCK LAKEVILLE, Conn. -- July 5, 2007 -- The American Le Mans Series makes its only stop...
2007 LMP2-LEADING PORSCHE RS SPYDERS AIM FOR FIFTH CLASS WIN AS ALMS HEADS FOR ONLY NORTHEAST APPEARANCE; PORSCHE 911 GT3 RSR TEAMS SEEK FIRST WIN AT LIME ROCK
LAKEVILLE, Conn. -- July 5, 2007 -- The American Le Mans Series makes its only stop in the nation's population center on Saturday, July 7, as Porsche RS Spyder and Porsche GT3 RSR teams head for Lime Rock Park in the northwest corner of Connecticut.
Only two-and-a-half hours driving from either New York City or Boston, Lime Rock is usually round two or three of sports car series, with the teams having a long break between Sebring in March and the
24 Hours of Le Mans classic in June, but the schedule this year shows Lime Rock as round six of the 12-race season docket. Porsche Motorsport North America President Uwe Brettel is pleased with the results so far.
"In LMP2, we could not have asked for better finishes for the Penske Motorsport and Dyson Racing Porsche RS Spyder teams. Despite very tough competition from the Acuras, the RS Spyder driver have swept the podium twice, and won overall three times. In GT2, our Porsche 911 GT3 RSR customers have been very close to the Ferraris on several occasions, and Lime Rock might just be the place someone breaks through for a win," said Brettel.
There are several changes in the American Le Mans Series regulations starting at Lime Rock which will affect the Porsche RS Spyders on the track.
In response to the RS Spyder's winning streak this season with its three overall victories in Long Beach, Houston and Salt Lake City, the American Le Mans Series' sanctioning organization, the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), has introduced a rule change to the LMP2 class to separate it from the LMP1 competitors. Effective this weekend at Lime Rock, all LMP2 vehicles must compete with air intake restrictors that are five percent smaller. In effect, this reduces the performance of the RS Spyder by five percent to 478 hp, and substantially decreases the chances for further overall victories against the more powerful LMP1 vehicles.
"We're very unhappy about these changes half way through the season, and, as far as exciting competition for the spectators is concerned, we regard this step as detrimental," says Porsche AG's head of motorsport Hartmut Kristen.
"Yet, the goals for the second full season of Porsche RS Spyder as defending champion remain unchanged - our paramount aim this season is and always was to win the driver, manufacturer, team and engine classifications in the fiercely-contested LMP2 class. We will continue to concentrate on this goal against strong competition from Acura and Mazda."
The AC0, the sanctioning body for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, upon whose rules the IMSA regulations are based, had implemented this five percent change earlier this year, but IMSA had kept the 2006 specifications until this event.
Also at Lime Rock the RS Spyders and all the 911 GT3 RSR race cars will compete for the first time with E10 fuel. With the obligation for all teams to add ten percent ethanol to race fuel, the American Le Mans Series wants to make the general public more aware of sustainable energy and help promote acceptance of environmentally sound technology in motorsport. The ethanol additive causes no loss of power.
Penske Motorsports has entered two of the Weissach-developed-and-built sports prototypes with defending LMP2 champion Sascha Maassen (Germany) and Ryan Briscoe (Australia) -- fresh from their overall win at Salt Lake City -- driving the #6 car, and Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France) -- overall winners at Long Beach and Houston - #7 RS Spyder. Bernhard/Dumas have a 13-point lead over their teammates in LMP2, and a commanding 36-point margin over the nearest Acura drivers. Porsche leads Acura in the engine manufacturers point standings by 26 points.
"Lime Rock is very short, very tight and has lots of humps and bumps -- and on top of that there's traffic in every corner," says Timo Bernhard, who secured class victory here last year with Romain Dumas. "Driving here is great fun, even though it's not easy. The surface has undergone repairs often so you can't always drive the normal line. Instead you have to find the best grip."
Also bringing two RS Spyders to Lime Rock is the Porsche-supported customer team, Dyson Racing, which is headquartered in nearby Poughkeepsie, NY. Sharing driving duties in the #16 vehicle are Andy Wallace (Great Britain) and Butch Leitzinger (USA). Their team mates in the #20 cockpit are Chris Dyson (USA) and Guy Smith (Great Britain). Dyson has been competitive with their RS Spyders since the cars hit the track for the first time at Sebring, and they have two podium finishes to so for it so far.
Although the Ferraris have won all five GT2 class competitions so far this year, Flying Lizard Motorsports #45 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR drivers Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) and Johannes van Overbeek (USA) find themselves only 14 points behind with sever races to go. The pair has finished second no less than four times -- with several of those finishes being very close. Their Flying Lizard teammates Seth Neiman (USA) and Darren Law (USA) are entered in the #44 Porsche.
The other Porsche 911 GT3 RSR teams have also shown flashes of top podium performance so far this season, with everyone hoping that Lime Rock will turn their luck around. Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Robin Liddell (Great Britain) with their Tafel Racing 911 GT3 RSR have three third-place finishes so far, but have led the class several times before minor problems cost them a victory. The second Tafel Porsche will be driven by Dominik Farnbacher *Germany) and team owner Jim Tafel (USA).
First-year teams Rahal Letterman Racing and Team Trans Sport Racing have also been in the hunt during several events, only to have on-track incidents and mechanical problems plague their efforts.
The Rahal Letterman Racing Porsche will be driven by Ralf Kelleners (Germany) and Tom Milner (USA), while the Boston-based Team Trans Sport Racing Porsche will be piloted by Terry Borcheller (USA) and team owner Tim Pappas (USA).
The American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix will start Saturday, July 7, at 3:00 PM EDT, and run for two hours and 45 minutes. The race will be telecast on tape-delay on Sunday, July 8, at 1:00 PM EDT on CBS-TV. Live radio broadcast, as well as live timing and scoring, can be found on the American Le Mans Series web site at www.americanlemans.com. Stories and photos of the Porsche entries can be found on www.porschemotorsport.com, with updates posted all weekend.