NO ROOM FOR ERROR AS AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES GT2 POINTS BATTLE REACHES HOME STRETCH; PROUD PORSCHE TEAMS ONLY SIX POINTS APART WITH FOUR RACES REMAINING AS CONTEST HEADS TO ROAD AMERICA FOR AUGUST SHOWDOWN --Two Porsche 911 GT3 RSR teams with ...
NO ROOM FOR ERROR AS AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES GT2 POINTS BATTLE REACHES HOME STRETCH; PROUD PORSCHE TEAMS ONLY SIX POINTS APART WITH FOUR RACES REMAINING AS CONTEST HEADS TO ROAD AMERICA FOR AUGUST SHOWDOWN
--Two Porsche 911 GT3 RSR teams with decades of winning traditions are locked in a very close contest for the American Le Mans Series GT2 points chase, and a single mistake for either team this weekend at the Generac 500 at Road America, in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, could cost them the championship--
ELKHART LAKE, Wisc. - August 18 - With four races remaining, and a total of 90 points still to be earned, it looks like the American Le Mans Series GT2 points chase should go down to the final event in October, but the two veteran Porsche teams leading the standings - only six points apart - aren't approaching it that way.
Alex Job, whose racing team - based in Tavares, Florida - is the most successful team in the history of the American Le Mans Series, with four drivers championships in the six years of the series includes the last three years in a row, realizes that his team is evenly matched with the Las Vegas-based Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning squad, and a poor finish at this or any of the remaining events could give away the season title.
"Our drivers Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas have won four races in a row in the AJR Hyatt Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, but it took all four victories to overcome the points we lost from our DNF at Sebring. If either team makes a mistake and fails to score points at any of the last four races, the championship could be lost," said Job, who has been racing and preparing Porsche race cars since the 1980's.
The Generac 500 at Road America, a two-hour, 45-minute sports car race, will start on Sunday, August 21 at 2:00 PM local time (3:00 PM EDT), and will be
broadcast live by The Speed Channel. The event will also be broadcast live on the web via American Le Mans Radio (www.americanlemans.com), which will also have live radio coverage of ALMS qualifying.
Dale White, team manager for Petersen/White Lightning, agrees with Job, but feels his team has something to prove, especially since Alex Job was the pre- season favorite.
"They have won the championship the past three years, and both Patrick Long and Jorg Bergmeister, our drivers, and our crew are committed to winning this championship. Our car has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans (2003 and 2004), the 12 Hours of Sebring, and here at Road America (2003) - we can win this title, but everyone has to do their job," said White, who, along with team owner Mike Petersen, have won off-road championships before turning to road racing.
For the leading #23 Alex Job Racing Porsche, defending ALMS GT2 champion Timo Bernhard and Frenchman Romain Dumas have won the last four GT2 events, including victories at Mid-Ohio, Lime Rock, Infineon Raceway and Portland. As mentioned, they did not finish the Sebring event due to drive train problems, and finished second to the Panoz Esperante at Road Atlanta.
Alex Job Racing and Bell Microsystems has fielded a second car for the 2005 season, which has been driven by veteran GT driver Randy Pobst, from Atlanta, and defending U.S. Formula Ford 2000 champion Ian Baas, from Noblesville, IN. Pobst is leaving the team, however, to concentrate on his pursuit of the Speed World Challenge Touring car championship, so Darren Law, from Phoenix, has been hired to run the rest of the season - except for Petit Le Mans - in the second AJR Porsche. Baas' best finish has been a fourth a Lime Rock.
Flying Lizard Motorsports has entered two Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs, including the lead "Lizards'" entry with drivers Johannes van Overbeek, from San Francisco, and Jon Fogarty, from Petaluma, CA, sharing the racing duties. Fogarty and van Overbeek, who have two third-place finishes and a fourth in the last three events, are trying to stay in points contact with the GT2 leaders, while Seth Neiman, from Burlingame, CA, and Lonnie Pechnik, from Pacific Grove, CA, driving the second team car, lead the Mid-Ohio event into the last hour of the race before falling back, and were in the top three at Infineon raceway when a loose wheel lug caused an extra pit stop, pushing them back in the field, Despite some bad luck, van Overbeek/Fogarty are only 27 points out of first place.
The BAM! Racing team, from Stuart, FL, is not in the season championship points race at it has employed a selection of different drivers for the first five events, but for the past several races, it has recent 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Mike Rockenfeller, from Germany, co-driving with defending Porsche Michelin
Supercup champion and current SCCA Speed World Challenge contender Wolf Henzler, also from Germnay, in their Le Mans-winning Porsche. The pair drove together at Infineon raceway, finishing third, but contending for the lead before tire wear problems set in. Rockenfeller, along with Martin Jensen and Tony Burgess, were running in the top three at Sebring when drive train problems sidelined their effort. Henzler, who is currently in fourth place in the World Challenge series in his Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, has two win and four pole positions in that series, as well as two 2005 Grand- Am GT wins, including a victory at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.
All the GT2 teams mentioned above had a role in the American Porsche team sweep of the GT2 podium at last month's 24 Hours of Le Mans. The winning car is the same BAM! Porsche fans will see at Road America, entered by Alex Job Racing, and driven by Rockenfeller along with his FIA-GT teammate Marc Lieb and American TV executive Leo Hindery. Second was the same Petersen Motorsport/White Lightning Porsche driven by Patrick Long/Jorg Bergmeister/Timo Bernhard - contenders all the way despite an engine which was down on horsepower because of cooling problems. Completing the American sweep was the third place Flying Lizard Motorsport Porsche of Seth Neiman/Lonnie Pechnik/Johannes van Overbeek - all drivers from the San Francisco Bay area and all first-timers at the French classic.
J3 Racing, from Buford, GA, had its best ALMS finish ever at Sebring, finishing second in GT2 with regular Tim Sugden, from Leeds, England, and guest driver Nic Jonsson, from Atlanta. Ironically, team owner and lead driver Justin Jackson, was sick the day before the race, and was not allowed to race in the J3 Racing Coca-Cola Porsche, although he was in the pits cheering the team on. Jackson/Sugden also have a third-place finish at Mid-Ohio to their credit this year.
IMSA GT3 Challenge - Round #4
The weekend also marks round #4 of the five-race IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge presented by Michelin, with the Road America event to run Sunday late afternoon right after the ALMS feature. More than 20 Porsches from around the country have entered to compete in this 45-minute event, which features the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race cars.
The car which Road America fans will see in this series is a purpose-built racecar manufactured by the Porsche factory on the same assembly line as Porsche's complete line of sports cars for the consumer. The IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge car is based on the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup street car (996), while the Porsche Michelin Supercup series - which runs with Formula One around the world - has moved to the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car based on the newly- introduced 997 model.
The competitors will have sealed engines and transmissions, providing for close racing where the driver's talents are exemplified. Porsche Motorsport will provide technical support for the series with personnel, parts and expertise both away from and at the track, and Michelin will provide the spec tires for all competitors.
The 2005 IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge series schedule includes races at the Grand Prix of Atlanta, Apr. 15-17; American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio, May 20-22; Portland International Raceway, July 31 (all already completed; Road America, August 21; and Mazda Laguna Seca, October 14 - 17. Each event will receive a one-minute TV summary on the corresponding ALMS broadcast, except when the event runs after the ALMS race, when the summary will air during the following program (i.e. the Portland summary will run during the Road America broadcast on August 21).
The official Porsche media web site - www.press.porsche.com - will have qualifying information for the Road event for the Porsches entered, and will post stories and photos during and after the race. Porsche media web site users enter the word "carrera" for both user name and password, then choose "motorsports news" and "ALMS" to find the Road America updates. The same information is posted for consumers on Porsche's main site www.porsche.com/motorsport
The series race notes and results for all the classes at the American Le Mans event at Road America can be found on the official site for the American Le Mans Series (www.americanlemans.com), where fans can follow the qualifying sessions and the race with live timing and scoring on-line. IMSA GT3 Cup material can be found on www.imsaracing.net.
Other Web sites that will follow the ALMS weekend at Road America include Daily Sports Car (www.dailysportscar.com), The Race Site (www.theracesite.com), the Speed Channel site (www.speedTV.com), Sports Car Pros (sportscarpros.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.pitstop.com); whowon.com (www.whowon.com) and Speed Arena (www.speedarena.com).