MIAMI, Fla. - September 24 -- Although it came a little easier than it did a year ago, the results for the Alex Job Racing duo of Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr are the same as last year as they repeated their 2002 drivers championship with their...
MIAMI, Fla. - September 24 -- Although it came a little easier than it did a year ago, the results for the Alex Job Racing duo of Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr are the same as last year as they repeated their 2002 drivers championship with their recent win at Laguna Seca in their #23 Alex Job Racing McKenna mail2web Porsche 911 GT3.
So, with two races to go, including this weekend's Miami Grand Prix Americas 1.22-mile street event, what's the motivation for the team to push for a victory?
"These guys are the most competitive drivers I have ever known," said car owner Alex Job, who has also clinched his second straight team title.
"First of all, their teammates Jorg Bergmeister and Timo Bernhard have matched Sascha and Lucas' lap times all season, but bad luck has relegated them to just two wins. If Maassen and Luhr let up just a little but, the other guys will eat their lunch -- so mething the champions will not let happen," said Job.
Last year, The Racer's Group Porsche owner Kevin Buckler still had a chance for the title going into the last event before Sascha and Lucas clinched their title.
Since 2001, Luhr has combined with Maassen to be the winningest driver combination in ALMS history. The pair has won the 12 Hours of Sebring three times, and this year added the 24 Hours of Le Mans to their list of wins.
The other Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RS is being driven by German factory drivers Jorg Bergmeister and Timo Bernhard. Bergmeister/Bernhard won their first ALMS race at Road America a year ago, and have challenged their "senior" teammates all season, winning events at Road Atlanta and Mosport Park in Canada. At the last event, however, a broken suspension upright caused a 28-minute pit stop, and the pair finished out of the points. They also joined The Racer's Group Porsche team for this year's Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, scoring an overall win with TRG's Kevin Buckler and Michael Schrom.
The Las Vegas-based White Lightning/Petersen Motorsports Porsche has had great success in its limited racing schedule this year, winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Alex Job, and finishing second to the AJR Porsche at Sebring with Johnny Mowlem/Nic Jonsso n/Craig Stanton at the helm. That Le Mans-winning car is back in the States, and Mowlem /Stanton are back with the team for the rest of the season, wasting no time taking advantage of the Alex Job Racing woes to score their first-ever ALMS win last month at Road America. With more testing and car development, Mowlem and Stanton gained the podium again at Laguna Seca, finishing third right behind the Lazarro/Kelleners Ferrari. Mowlem/Stanton are two points ahead of the Ferrari pair in the standings.
Kevin Buckler and his Sonoma, Calif. - based team, The Racer's Group, haven't had the best luck so far this ALMS season in their Porsches, but Buckler had more success at the beginning of the year than most teams have in a lifetime. He and The Racer's Gro up regular Michael Schrom teamed with factory drivers Jorg Bergmeister and Timo Bernhard to win the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona outright in their Porsche - the first time a GT car had won the event overall since 1977.
Last year, besides winning the GT class at the Rolex 24 and the GT class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, The Racer's Group captured wins at ALMS races at Mid-Ohio (Buckler/B.J. Zacharias) and Mosport (Buckler/Brian Cunningham). He and Schrom also won the Gran d-Am event at Fontana, Calif. For 2003, Buckler and co-driver Cort Warner have two podium finishes - a third at Road Atlanta and a second at Road America - to their credit.
The other two The Racer's Group Porsches will be driven by multi-class Pikes Peak and PRO Rally champion Jeff Zwart with Pierre Ehret, and Chris Gleason/Marc Bunting - both cars finished in the top ten last month in Wisconsin.
The Jupiter, Florida-based Orbit Racing YES Network Porsche will be driven this weekend by Peter Baron and Marc Lieb. Last month at Mosport, Porsche factory driver Lieb, substituting for regular Orbit driver Leo Hindery, came storming through the field to finish third, the team's first ALMS podium finish of the year. Lieb, Baron and Hindery drove together at the 24 hours of Le Mans in June, finishing second in GT. In February, Lieb put the Orbit car on the pole in GT at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. The second Orbit Porsche will be driven by the father-son team of Joe and Jay Policastro, who earned a third-place podium finish at the Grand-Am in Birmingham earlier this year in their Classic Industries Orbit Porsche.
At Road America, Baron and Lieb were running in the top three when the car quit, causing a heart-breaking DNF.
The two-car British-based PK Sport Porsche 911 GT3 RS team is still looking to finish up to its potential, and will have PK Sport regular Robin Liddell and Monaco's Alex Caffi in one car, while Ron Attapatu will pair with British driver David Warnock in th e other Porsche. Liddell and Caffi finished fourth at Laguna -- their best finish of the season.
Another team hungry for a podium finish is the J-3 Racing Porsche of Justin Jackson, and former SCCA World Challenge champion David Murry, who moved smartly through the field to finish sixth in Sonoma in July. They then scored their first podium finish of the year at Trois-Rivieres, only to be disqualified for an alleged bodywork infraction. J-3 appealed that disqualification, and their third place finish was restored. Murry's only ALMS win was with Johnny Mowlem in a Porsche RSR at Laguna in 1999; Mowlem had not won an ALMS race since either until last month at Road America.
Spencer Pumpelly and Andy Lally, whose best finish in their Zip Racing Porsche had been fifth so far this year (Trois-Rivieres), scored their first ALMS podium finish two weeks ago at Road America after a great battle with Sascha Maassen for the final winn er's circle spot. Pumpelly passed Maassen on the last lap to gain the podium.
The Miami Grand Prix of Americas will be broadcast live on Speed TV starting at 4:00 PM Eastern Daylight time on Saturday, September 27 - a three-hour show. The entire 2-hour, 45-minute event, along with Friday qualifying, will be broadcast live online o n the American Le Mans Radio Web, which can be accessed on the Web at www.americanlemans.com. Live timing and scoring for qualifying and the race are also available at www.americanlemans.com on Saturday and Sunday.
The official Porsche media web site - www.press.porsche.com - will have racing results and photos for the Miami event for the Porsches entered. Use the word "carrera" for both user name and password, then choose "motorsports news" to find the results. The same information is posted for consumers on Porsche's main site www.porsche.com/motorsport (click on Porsche Motorsports North America and "race reports").
The official race notes and results for all the classes at the Miami event can be found on the official site for the American Le Mans Series www.americanlemans.com. .
Other Web sites that will follow the American Le Mans Series include Daily Sports Car (www.dailysportscar.com), The Race Site (www.theracesite.com), the Speed Channel site (www.speedTV.com), Motorsport.com (www.motorsport.com) , AutoSport magazine's site (www.autosport.com), AutoRacingDaily.com (www.autoracingdaily.com), Motorsport-news.com (www.motorsport-news.com), Crash.net (www.crash.net), racinglines.com (www.racinglines.com), EnduranceSportsCar.com (www.endurancesportscar.com), pitstop.com (www.pit stop.com); and Speed Arena (www.speedarena.com).