PORSCHE RS SYDERS THIRD AND FOURTH BEHIND ACURAS IN LIME ROCK QUALIFYING; DIRK WERNER GIVES FARNBACHER LOLES RACING PORSCHE GT3 RSR FIRST ALMS GT2 POLE LIME ROCK, Conn. - July 11 - Despite the fact that Porsche and Acura had a terrific battle...
PORSCHE RS SYDERS THIRD AND FOURTH BEHIND ACURAS IN LIME ROCK QUALIFYING; DIRK WERNER GIVES FARNBACHER LOLES RACING PORSCHE GT3 RSR FIRST ALMS GT2 POLE
LIME ROCK, Conn. - July 11 - Despite the fact that Porsche and Acura had a terrific battle for the LMP2 class - and overall - pole positions, the story of Friday's Northeast Grand Prix qualifying session for Saturday's American Le Mans Series race at Lime Rock Park was the condition of the newly-paved and rebuilt racing circuit.
The Penske Porsche RS Spyders qualified third (Sascha Maassen/Patrick Long) and fourth (Romain Dumas/Timo Bernhard) overall, and third and fourth in the LMP2 class behind the Brabham/Sharp and the de Ferran/Pagenaud Acuras, but the talk of the town was the new track, which had a role to play in the seven red flags that plagued practice and qualifying. Track management had overseen a complete repaving of the circuit between its Memorial Day event and this weekend, including the building of two new corners which completely change the characteristics of this classic road-racing venue. After two practice sessions and qualifying, the consensus was that, although the smooth surface was a welcome change from Lime Rock events of the past, the new corners were too narrow for multi-class racing, and both the slow cars and the fast cars have trouble finding track space to get out of the way and overtake respectively.
Still, when it's all said and done, everyone has to race on the same circuit, and Hartmut Kristen, head of Porsche Motorsport, expects the Porsche-Acura battle to continue to be close.
"After some rear wing adjustments this morning, the Porsche RS Spyders qualified very well, as two Acuras, two Penske Porsches, another Acura, and a Dyson Porsche RS Spyder took the top six positions, all a little more than a half-second apart," said Kristen, who noted the Audi LMP1 cars were eighth and ninth overall.
"We have known since Sebring that the Acuras are much improved this year, and we expect another close finish at Lime Rock.
In the LMP2 Manufacturers points, Porsche leads Acura by 17 points.
In the GT2 class for production-based sports car, the Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR will be on the pole, for tomorrow's event as Dirk Werner (Germany) bested the Ferrari of Salo/Melo by more than a half of second in the 20-minute qualifying session. Werner, the defending Rolex Grand-Am champion, gave Farnbacher Loles its first ALMS pole, and scored the first personal ALMS pole as well. He will drive with Porsche factory driver Richard Westbrook (Great Britain), the defending Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup champion. Third was the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche of Joerg Bergmeister and Wolf Henzler (both Germany) , who hope to increase their one-point lead in the championship over Ferrari drivers Farnbacher/Mueller, who qualified fourth.
"We have had a fast car all day, and we thought we clinched the pole position about half-way through the session, so we came in to save the tires. But then, everyone started to go faster as more rubber was laid on the new track surface, and we went back out to turn a faster lap," said Werner.
Three of the GT2 Porsches - the Werner/Westbook car, the Flying Lizard Johannes van Overbeek/Patrick Pilet Porsche - which qualified fifth, and the Bergmeister/Henzler Porsche, are all outfitted with a new 4.0 liter engine, which develops the same horsepower as the current 3.8 liter engine. The engine, still in its testing phase, is designed to improve drivability by widening the power band.
The third Flying Lizard Porsche, driven by team owner Seth Neiman and veteran Porsche driver Darren Law, qualified eighth in class.
In the manufacturer's GT2 points battle, Porsche leads Ferrari by six points.