PORSCHE RS SPYDER LMP2 RACERS ON TARGET AT HALFWAY POINT OF ALMS; PENSKE TEAM DRIVERS LOOKING FOR FOURTH STRAIGHT CLASS WIN AT HOT, HUMID PORTLAND TRACK PORTLAND, Ore. - July 20, 2006 - Actor/race car driver Paul Newman, whose on-track successes...
PORSCHE RS SPYDER LMP2 RACERS ON TARGET AT HALFWAY POINT OF ALMS; PENSKE TEAM DRIVERS LOOKING FOR FOURTH STRAIGHT CLASS WIN AT HOT, HUMID PORTLAND TRACK
PORTLAND, Ore. - July 20, 2006 - Actor/race car driver Paul Newman, whose on-track successes included a class win in a Porsche 935 at Le Mans, once commented that auto racing, like acting, was frustrating because it was difficult to turn in a perfect performance.
But Newman did say that when all the right factors came together in the same performance, racing, like acting, can be very satisfying.
Such has been the case for the LMP2-class Porsche RS Spyders, prepared by Penske Racing, for the first half of the 2006 American Le Mans Series, with the upcoming Saturday, July 22 event at Portland International Raceway marking round six of the ten-race series.
After an opening win at Laguna Seca the end of last year by Porsche factory drivers Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr, the two-car team had problems at the opening two events this year at Sebring and Houston. While the RS Spyders showed their potential by leading both the LMP2 class and the overall race during the two events, both cars suffered mechanical gremlins and did not finish either race.
But Romain Dumas/Timo Bernhard broke through at Mid-Ohio with not only an LMP2 win, but an overall victory as well - beating all the LMP1 cars including the Audi R8, with the Maassen/Luhr team car finishing second. Dumas/Bernhard won LMP2 again at Lime Rock, with Maassen/Luhr winning the class at Salt Lake City last weekend.
The Sascha Maassen/Lucas Luhr-driven Porsche RS Spyder has scored top-three points at each of the five races despite its DNFs at Sebring and Houston (they completed enough laps to score points), and its drivers are now just one point out of first place in the drivers championship. The Timo Bernhard/Romain Dumas-driven RS Spyder, which won its class in two events, has helped propel Porsche into first place in the LMP2 Manufacturers Championship as well as the LMP2 Team Championship - and the Penske Porsche leads the class team championship points.
GT2 - A Lead Despite Increased Competition
The Porsche 911 GT3 R/RS/RSR family of race cars, with the most success of any race car in the history of the American Le Mans Series, goes for its 54th class win at Portland International Raceway on Saturday in the hotly-contested GT2 class.
In the first five ALMS events, this class has produced five different winners, including the victory three weeks ago at Lime Rock Park by the Petersen/White Lightning Porsche 911 GT3 RSR driven by Jorg Bergmeister and Patrick Long. Bergmeister's crash at Le Mans in June had rendered their car inoperable, so they bought a similar model from a Porsche Owners Club member in California, and built a new ALMS entry in just a few days, culminating their efforts with their first class win of the season. At the most recent event in Salt Lake City, the pair finished second in class, and have clawed their way back into the points championship. Bergmeister/Long are the defending ALMS GT2 champions.
Other class winners so far have been the Salo/Melo Ferrari, the Maxwell/Brabham Panoz Esperante, the Rockenfeller/Graf Alex Job Racing Porsche, and the Henzler/van Overbeek Flying Lizard Porsche. With podium finishes in all five races so far, van Overbeek leads the ALMS GT2 Drivers Championship.