JARAMA (Madrid), Spain -- May 20 -- The ...
JARAMA (Madrid), Spain -- May 20 -- The #22 Alex Job Racing McKenna Porsche 911 GT3 RS of Randy Pobst/Emmanuel Collard looked like it was poised for a come-from-behind win late in today's European Le Mans Series event at Circuito del Jarama in Spain when the expected last-minute fuel stop from the BMW factory team did not materialize.
"Just five weeks ago, the BMWs could barely go one hour on a tank of fuel, and today they went one hour and 26 minutes," said disappointed team owner Alex Job. "Emmanuel did a great job staying close to the two BMW V-8s near the end of the event, but just couldn't catch the more powerful rivals."
Randy Pobst, the lone American driver on the team, was also disappointed.
"They are obviously running to our pace, which is how they were able to do the whole race on just one stop," said Pobst. "We finished on the same lap as them and we were hoping that they would have to stop again. We could have taken at least one of them."
"Whether they turned down the wick to save fuel, or found the solution in a computer chip or other electronic components, their combination of speed and fuel economy did us in today," Job added.
Not helping the team situation any was the unlucky day experienced by the #23 Alex Job McKenna Porsche, with Sascha Maassen being punted off the track by J.J. Lehto early in the race.
"I had inside position on him and was almost by him when he just moved over into me. The BMW hit my left rear wheel, bending the valve stem and causing the tire to explode," said Maassen.
Later, after the #23 car had worked its way back up to third place, the right front lower control arm broke, causing a 20-minute pit stop and sealing the car's fate to an eighth-place finish, 17 laps behind the GT leaders.
"We came to the ELMS events with two goals -- one was to score maximum points in a race to use for later in the season, and the other was to prevent BMW from doing the same thing. By winning at Donington, we picked up a win that can be used to substitute for a lesser finish later in the year, but with the one-two BMW finish in Spain, their team has done the same thing. It's going to be quite a battle for the rest of the season," said Job.
The top three GT finishers were all in the top ten overall, and ahead of the GTS winner and all but one of the LMP675 finishers. Neither the Alex Job Racing Porsches nor the BMW V-8s will be participating this year at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The PK Sport Porsche 911 GT3 Rs ran through to fourth and fifth in class, with Piers Maserati and Mark Humphrey beating their team mates Robin Lydell and Mike Youles to the line.
"We were the best of the private teams," said Youles after the race. "I was brake tested by a Panoz during my stint, but I didn't see who it was. I also went off once when I out-braked myself at the first corner, but otherwise we didn't have any problems."
The Harlow Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 RS of Terry Rymer and Stephen Watson performed well in the opening hour of the race with Rymer aboard, but Watson was hit by the Seikel Porsche 911 GT3 RS of Tony Burgess and Max Cohen-Olivar, breaking a front wheel an d damaging the radiator, forcing retirement.
Hugh Hayden and Stephen Earle stopped shortly before the end with a broken half shaft in their Sebah Automotive Limited Porsche 911 GT3 RS.
The next race for the American Le Mans Series combatants will be the Sears Point, California race which will take place on July 22. The factory BMWs will be joined by the Tom Milner-prepared BMWs, which will also be V8-powered. On the Porsche side, the White Lightning/Petersen Motorsports Porsche will re-join the fray, with Johnny Mowlem and a soon-to-be-named driver to replace the late Bob Wollek.
<pre> ELMS Jarama GT Results
1. Fredrick Ekblom/Dirk Mueller, BMW Motorsport, BMW M3GTR, 102 laps 2. JJ Lehto/Joerg Mueller, BMW Motorsport, BMW M3 GTR, 102 laps 3. Randy Pobst/Emmanuel Collard, Alex Job Racing, Porsche GT3RS, 102 laps 4. Piers Maserati/Mark Humphrey, PK Sport, Porsche GT3 RS, 96 laps 5. Mike Youles/Robin Liddell, PK Sport, Porsche GT3RS, 95 laps 6. Paco Orti/Jesus Diez de Villarroel, Paco Orti Racing, Porsche GT3RS, 94 laps 7. Tony Burgess/Max Cohen-Olivar/Anthony Bagnell, Seikel Motorsport, Porsche GT3RS, 93 laps 8. Lucas Luhr/Sascha Maassen, Alex Job Racing, Porsche GT3RS, 83 laps 9. Terry Rymer/Stephen Watson, Harlow Motorsport Ltd, Porsche GT3RS, 77 laps 10. Hugh Hayden/Stephen Earle, Sebah Automotive Ltd, Porsche GT3RS, 74 laps