MONTEREY ^Ã– October 20 ^Ã– The ...
MONTEREY ^Ö October 20 ^Ö The #6 Penske Racing Porsche RS Spyder shattered the LMP2 track record by more than three seconds Friday with Sascha Maassen (Germany) at the helm, and then co-driver Ryan Briscoe continued the car^Òs fast pace by turning the fastest lap in this morning^Òs practice session. In fact, the Penske Porsches duplicated their one-two performance in the final run before the race on Saturday morning.
The second quickest qualifying time went to Timo Bernhard (Germany) in the number seven sister car of Penske Racing. He and Romain Dumas (France) had already claimed the driver championship title in the LMP2 class at the penultimate round of the season in Road Atlanta.
On the swift and challenging circuit, the Porsche pilots not only outclassed their LMP2 competitors, but also again beat the Audi R10 cars, which create more than 200 hp then the Porsches. With eight overall victories this season, Porsche is the most successful manufacturer in this race series with the world^Òs fastest sports cars and was able to clinch all four LMP2 championship titles in the LMP2 class before the end of the season.
^ÓI^Òm absolutely thrilled about my first pole position of the year,^Ô said Sascha Maassen. ^ÓMy first lap was very quick but towards the end I noticed that the tire grip was still good. So I put in another flying lap, although they were telling me over the radio to come into the pits. That was my pole-setting lap.^Ô
^ÓLaguna is a track where experience counts, and my nine years of racing here really paid off when it was time to turn one fast lap,^Ô he said.
The Porsche RS Spyder debuted at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 2005 with a class pole position and, more importantly, a maiden P2 victory. Maassen qualified the car that year with a then-class record of 1:15.606. But improvements in the track - which has been made smoother with a recent resurfacing - and with the Porsche prototype combined for Friday's record-breaking run.
Hartmut Kristen, head of motorsport at Porsche, was also satisfied with the excellent grid positions of the two RS Spyders for the four hour race on Saturday.
^ÓCongratulations to Penske Racing,^Ô he said. ^ÓThe small time difference though indicates that tomorrow^Òs race will be extremely exciting. Like in qualifying there is bound to be the odd safety car phase. Our pit stop strategy will therefore play an important role.^Ô
At the wheel of the number 20 RS Spyder fielded by the US privateer team Dyson Racing, Guy Smith (Great Britain) and Chris Dyson (USA) qualified on the fourth row. Sitting one row behind are team mates Andy Wallace (Great Britain) and Butch Leitzinger (USA) in their number 16 race car.
The GT2 championship remains in play entering the weekend, and Jaime Melo fired the opening salvo for Risi Competizione and the Ferrari F403 GT. The Brazilian broke teammate Mika Salo's class record in qualifying with a lap of 1:22.880 for a 0.410-second gap back to Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning's Peter Dumbreck.
Salo and Melo hold a 22-point lead over the Flying Lizard Motorsports duo of Jörg Bergmeister and Johannes van Overbeek in the race for the drivers championship. The race winners receive 23 points. So even if Bergmeister and van Overbeek win, all the Risi pairing needs to do is complete 70 percent of the race distance and finish in the top-10.
Bergmeister qualified third behind Dumbreck, turning in a lap of 1:23.353 in the Flying Lizard Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.
The final round of the 2007 American Le Mans Series is the Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The four-hour race is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. PT on Saturday, October 20. SPEED will air the race live from 5:30 to 10 p.m. ET. Live coverage from American Le Mans Radio and IMSA Live Timing and Scoring will be available at americanlemans.com.