Road Atlanta: Porsche Motorsport race report

PORSCHE DRIVERS SCORE TWO CLASS WINS AT 1000-MILE PETIT LE MANS AT ROAD ATLANTA; RS SPYDER, GT3 RSR ZERO IN ON YEAR-END CLASS TITLES BRASELTON, Georgia - September 30 - Porsche racing teams which spent early parts of the Ninth Annual Petit Le...

PORSCHE DRIVERS SCORE TWO CLASS WINS AT 1000-MILE PETIT LE MANS AT ROAD ATLANTA; RS SPYDER, GT3 RSR ZERO IN ON YEAR-END CLASS TITLES

BRASELTON, Georgia - September 30 - Porsche racing teams which spent early parts of the Ninth Annual Petit Le Mans in the pits with problems came back to win their classes and close in on American Le Mans Series year-end championships.

In the LMP2 prototype class, after losing seven laps to the field early in the race with throttle problems, the #6 Porsche RS Spyder driven by Sascha Maassen/Timo Bernhard/Emmanuel Collard fought its way back into the lead to score the team's sixth class victory of the season and solidify Penske Motorsports' chances to sweep all the year-end LMP2 class championships.

In second place in the LMP2 Class was the team #7 Porsche RS Spyder driven by Lucas Luhr/Romain Dumas/Mike Rockenfeller, which lost 10 laps - also early in the race - with a fuel leak in the cockpit. Both cars ran perfectly after their problems, which occurred within 30 minutes of each other in the second hour of the event. Emmanuel Collard had moved to within two laps of the LMP2-leading Lola when he turned the car over to Sascha Maassen, who took over the lead for good when the Lola lost a steering rack with two hours to go.

"We did what we came here to do," said Tim Cindric, president of Penske Racing. "In the process, we also distanced ourselves from our pursuers in the LMP2 Class and now have a great chance of achieving our goal of winning the LMP2 manufacturers, team, and drivers championships for Penske Motorsports and Porsche this season. But we still need to improve on our performance - which is why we race."

Porsche has already clinched both the 2006 ALMS GT2 chassis manufacturer and engine manufacturer's championships, and Penske Motorsports has clinched the LMP2 team title. The driver's championship will go down to the last race at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey next month, with Sascha Massen in the lead with 165 points, Lucas Luhr with 161, and Lola drivers Clint Field and Liz Halliday with 150. The Laguna event yields 24 points for first place.

Three teams, two drivers Still in GT2 Championship Mix

In the GT2 class, the Ferraris, BMWs, Porsches and Panoz battled for the entire 1000 miles, and it looked bleak for both Porsche teams that are contesting the championships.

The Johannes van Overbeek/Wolf Henzler/Marc Lieb Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, which started the day with van Overbeek atop the class point standings, looked like it would score a podium finish and virtually clinch the title for their team co-owner, but it was not to be.

While Henzler was driving the car in the lead, he was hit from behind by a prototype, damaging the rear suspension and putting them out of the top three (they finished fifth). That gave the Jorg Bergmeister/Patrick Long Petersen/White Lightning Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, which had fallen back early with a spin and a high-speed flat tire, a chance to climb back into the lead, and gave Bergmeister a chance to close in on van Overbeek's points lead. Johannes has 132 Points, and Jorg 128.

In the 2006 team championship, it's a three-way chase, with the Risi Competizione Ferrari team having 138 points, Flying Lizards 132 points, and Petersen/White Lightning 128 points.

This marks the eighth time Porsche 911-based race cars have won their class at Petit Le Mans nine times since the race began in 1998 (two classes in that first year). Audi is second with seven wins.

Porsche has now clinched the GT2 manufacturers championship over Ferrari, Panoz and BMW.

-credit: porsche motorsport

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Emmanuel Collard , Sascha Maassen , Lucas Luhr , Jörg Bergmeister , Johannes van Overbeek , Clint Field , Marc Lieb , Romain Dumas , Mike Rockenfeller , Liz Halliday , Wolf Henzler
Teams Team Penske , Risi Competizione , Flying Lizard Motorsports