Road Atlanta II: Porsche Motorsport preview

Sascha Maassen, Lucas Luhr have title, but Porsche and Ferrari drivers scramble for other GT point positions at Petit Le Mans ATLANTA -- October 15 -- Although Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr have already repeated their 2002 American Le Mans...

Sascha Maassen, Lucas Luhr have title, but Porsche and Ferrari drivers scramble for other GT point positions at Petit Le Mans

ATLANTA -- October 15 -- Although Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr have already repeated their 2002 American Le Mans Series GT Drivers Championship for 2003 in their #23 Alex Job Racing McKenna mail2web Porsche 911 GT3, the drivers just behind them in the stand ings could finish third, fifth, seventh or ninth depending on this weekend's race results.

GT results from Petit Le Mans season finale, the ten-hour endurance race on Saturday, October 18, at Road Atlanta, could cement a tie for third place for the season for Maassen/Luhr's Alex Job Porsche teammates Jorg Bergmeister and Timo Bernhard, who hold a single point lead over rival Ferrari drivers Ralf Kelleners/Anthony Lazzaro. Only four points behind the Ferrari duo are the White Lightning/Petersen Porsche pair of Johnny Mowlem/Craig Stanton, with the Racer's Group Porsche drivers Kevin Buckler and C ort Wagner -- currently in ninth and tenth place -- still in contention for third.

As this endurance race nets the winners an extra six points -- 26 total for a victory -- the battle is very much on.

There are many other story lines for this ninth and final round of the American Le Mans Series, however, as Porsche teams and the Porsche 911 GT3 RS will be a major focus of attention.

Of the 38 cars entered at Petit Le Mans, 19 of them are in the GT class, and 13 of those are Porsche 911 GT3 RS racers.

For the first time since Porsche started its UPS Junior program at the factory in 1997, both Porsche Junior drivers will come to the United States to race at Petit Le Mans. 22 year-old American Patrick Long, from Oak Park, California, will join Buckler and Wagner in the #66 The Racer's Group Porsche, while 19 year-old Mike Rockenfeller from Germany will co-drive with Orbit Racing's Leo Hindery and Peter Baron in the YES Network Porsche.

The other Orbit Porsche will have ALMS veteran Randy Pobst join Joe and Jay Policastro in the #44 car.

Alwin Springer, president of Porsche Motorsport North America, will retire at the end of the weekend after more than 30 years with Porsche racing.

Frenchman Romain Dumas, who finished second at Le Mans in 2002 in the Freisinger Porsche with Sascha Maassen and Jorg Bergmeister, will join Bergmeister/Bernhard as a third driver.

Jeff Zwart, who has won the Pikes Peak Hillclimb in several different Porsches as well as a SCCA Pro Rally co-driving title, will join fellow Pikes Peak driver David Donner and Tom Nastasi in the #67 The Racer's Group Porsche.

Other changes for The Racer's Group include Pierre Ehret going to the #68 car to join regulars Chris Gleason and Marc Bunting.

Formula I and Indycar driver Alex Caffi, will co-drive the PK Sport Porsche with Robin Liddell and David Warnock. Caffi won the GT class at Le Mans in 2001 as part of the Seikel Motorsport team.

Veteran GT driver Brian Cunningham, who has won ALMS GT races in both Porsches and BMWs, will co-drive in the J-3 Racing Porsche with David Murry and Justin Jackson.

The Porsche Cup, the worldwide awards program for Porsche race car drivers piloting non-factory team cars, is also heading down the home stretch, with Marc Lieb currently in front, thanks in large part to his second place finish with Orbit Racing at Le M ans. Kevin Buckler, with an overall win at the Rolex 24 and several ALMS podium finishes, is second with FIA-GT front-runner Stephane Ortelli third and David Murry fourth.

Porsches have six wins in GT class at Petit Le Mans, including a sweep of the GT1, GT2 and GT3 classes in 1998.

Petit Le Mans will be broadcast live on Speed TV starting with coverage at 11:00 AM Eastern Daylight time on Saturday, October 18 with seven hours of racing action (11:00 AM -- 12:30 PM; 3:00 PM -- 6:00 PM, and 7:00 PM -- 9:30 PM). The entire 10-hour event, along with Friday qualifying, will be broadcast live online on the American Le Mans Radio Web, which can be accessed on the Web at www.americanlemans.com. Live timing and scoring for qualifying and the race are also available at www.americanlemans.com on Saturday and Sunday.

The official Porsche media web site - www.press.porsche.com - will have racing results and photos for the Road Atlanta event for the Porsches entered. Use the word "carrera" for both user name and password, then choose "motorsports news" to find the result s. The same information is posted for consumers on Porsche's main site www.porsche.com/motorsport (click on Porsche Motorsports North America and "race reports").

The official race notes and results for all the classes at the Petit Le Mans event can be found on the official site for the American Le Mans Series www.americanlemans.com. .

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Series ALMS
Drivers Ralf Kelleners , David Murry , Robin Liddell , Stéphane Ortelli , Anthony Lazzaro , Randy Pobst , Sascha Maassen , Lucas Luhr , Kevin Buckler , Leo Hindery , Peter Baron , Jörg Bergmeister , Timo Bernhard , Pierre Ehret , Tom Nastasi , Patrick Long , Chris Gleason , Brian Cunningham , Johnny Mowlem , Marc Lieb , Alex Caffi , Joseph Policastro Jr. , Craig Stanton , Romain Dumas , David Warnock , Marc Bunting , Justin Jackson , Jeff Zwart , Mike Rockenfeller , David Donner , Alex Job
Teams Alex Job Racing