Road America: Porsche preview

PORSCHE RS SPYDER LMP2 PROTOTYPES FOCUS ON CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS, TEAM RESULTS ELKHART LAKE, Wisc. - August 15, 2006 - After completing six of the ten events in its first season of American Le Mans Series competition, the two Porsche RS Spyder ...


ELKHART LAKE, Wisc. - August 15, 2006 - After completing six of the ten events in its first season of American Le Mans Series competition, the two Porsche RS Spyder prototypes, prepared by Penske Motorsports, have shown the sports car world they can perform at the front of the field, but have also shown the results of the new engine and chassis development.

Road America, the classic four-mile, 12-turn sports car track located northwest of Milwaukee, is set to host round seven of the ALMS championship - the Generac 500 at Road America on Sunday, August 20, at 2:00 PM EDT, for a two-hour, 45-minute race to be telecast live on the SPEED Channel.

The two cars have scored three class wins between them, including a one-two overall victory at Mid-Ohio, and have opened a significant points lead in chassis, engine and team LMP2 standings (Porsche currently leads the LMP2 chassis and manufacturers' championship and Penske Racing is currently on top of the LMP2 team championship) . But a combination of mechanical problems and on-track incidents has left the leading Porsche drivers five points behind in the current LMP2 Drivers Championship standings.

Penske Racing and Porsche Motorsports have worked together for their overall win and three class wins, but the organizations are constantly updating their strategy to achieve the goal for this season - winning the LMP2 championship. One of the changes the Penske team is making for the rest of the season is to amortize the vast American Le Mans Series experience - almost 50 class wins between them - of veteran drivers Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr. Starting at Road America, Luhr will be joined by Romain Dumas in the #6 Porsche RS Spyder, and Sascha Maassen will join Timo Bernhard in the #7 entry.

Because of their DNF at the opening event at Sebring - the only race that both cars did not score points, Dumas and Bernhard are virtually out of the championship chase. With Maassen and Luhr now in different cars, the best finishing Porsche RS Spyder will earn the most championship points for the drivers that have the best shot at the title. It will mean that the two drivers, who have won two ALMS titles and one

FIA-GT title together, will have only a slim chance to share another championship, but an RS Spyder driver will now have the best shot at the title.

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 in mid- July. Then, just one week later, Maassen/Luhr earned second-place points after an engine problem late in the event robbed them of a certain victory (five-lap lead with 20 minutes to go), and Bernhard/Dumas were a distant third after an accident put them in the pits for more than 22 minutes.

GT2 - Speed versus Consistency

While the Ferrari 430 V-8 has certainly shown the speed in winning the last two ALMS events (Salt Lake City and Portland), the leading Ferrari driver is still 19 points behind Johannes van Overbeek, driver and part owner of the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. Van Overbeek and co-driver Wolf Henzler (who is second in the points as he joined the team in May) have won only one race (Mid-Ohio), but have never finished lower than fourth place.

Patrick Long and Jorg Bergmeister, driving the Petersen/White Lightning Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, has also won a race (Lime Rock), and finished in the top four in all, but one event, but they have a lot of ground to make up to catch the two leading teams as they finished a disappointing seventh at Mid-Ohio, and Long missed the Sebring event due to his ride in the RS Spyder.

Porsche leads the GT2 manufacturers championship points over Ferrari, 114 - 86.

Other Porsche entries in the GT2 class include Alex Job Racing Porsche of Mike Rockenfeller/Robin Liddell, and the second Flying Lizard Porsche entry of Seth Nieman/Lonnie Pechnik. Liddell replaced Klaus Graf for the remainder of the season in the Alex Job car starting at Portland, while Pechnik and Darren Law have both driven with Neiman for the Lizards.


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Series ALMS
Drivers Klaus Graf , Robin Liddell , Sascha Maassen , Lucas Luhr , Darren Law , Jörg Bergmeister , Timo Bernhard , Patrick Long , Johannes van Overbeek , Romain Dumas , Lonnie Pechnik , Mike Rockenfeller , Wolf Henzler , Alex Job
Teams Team Penske , HART , Alex Job Racing , Flying Lizard Motorsports