-Eight Porsche 911 GT3 RS race cars will be challenged by four BMW M3 V-8 racers in round ...
-Eight Porsche 911 GT3 RS race cars will be challenged by four BMW M3 V-8 racers in round #3 of the 2001 American Le Mans Series championship in Northern California-
SONOMA, Calif. - July 16, 2001 - With one marque dominating the prototype-class so far this year, much attention has shifted to the American Lee Mans Series GT class for 2001, as two traditional rivals - Porsche and BMW - are set to do battle at the 2.52 mile Sear Point International Raceway road course north of San Francisco.
Two entries from Alex Job Racing, based in Tavares, Florida, lead the Porsche contingent. Driving the #23 McKenna Porsche 911 GT3 RS are the series leaders - Lucas Luhr, from Monte Carlo, Monaco, and Sascha Maassen, from Aachen, Germany. Luhr and Maasse n have teamed for wins in the two previous ALMS rounds this year, the Leather Center Grand Prix of Texas and the Superflo 12 Hours of Sebring.
The #23 Alex Job Racing McKenna Porsche 911 GT3 RS will be driven by Randy Pobst, from Melbourne, Fla., and Christian Menzel, from Kelberg, Germany. Pobst and Menzel have finished second in the two previous ALMS events.
In the two rounds of the European Le Mans Series held so far this year, the Alex Job Racing Porsches took the same one-two positions at Donington Park in England this past April, but then gave way to the BMWs at Jarama in Spain in May. While these races w ill not be a factor in the final point standings (as Porsche and BMW split the two races, which could only count for replacement points for a lower North American finish), the ELMS events tell an on-going story for Porsche Motorsports North American Presid ent Alwin Springer.
"We are not pleased that the BMWs are allowed to run an M3 model with a V-8 engine. The BMW V-8 race car does not meet several important requirements to be a GT entry, according to the current rules. There is no regular production of a street car, no anno unced price, no marketing plan, and no sales availability date. The showing of a one-off, hand-built model recently at Jarama has not made progress towards meeting these rule requirements. We feel that allowing the car to race is a dangerous step towards allowing prototype and one-off racers into a class designed for production-based vehicles," said Springer.
Still, Porsche continues to work with its GT3 RS customer teams on improvements to the suspension and drivetrain to help narrow the speed difference generated by the introduction of the BMW V8 to the GT class, Springer said.
After the tragedy of losing its lead driver in a traffic accident at Sebring, the Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Porsche 911 GT3 RS is back for Sears Point. Bob Wollek, who was the veteran driver for this team, lost his life when the bicycle he was riding was hit by a van just before the Sebring event. For Sears Point, Englishman Johnny Mowlem will be joined on the driving roster by 20 year-old German GT driver Timo Bernhard. Bernhard, who spent the past two years driving in the Porsche Carrera Cu p in Germany, drove with Randy Pobst and Christian Menzel in the second-place Alex Job Racing entry at Sebring. The #30 Petersen Motorsports Porsche with Luhr/Fitzgerald/Pobst/Menzel at the helm, won the GT class at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona earlier t his year, finishing second overall.
Other Porsche 911 GT3 RS entries include the 2001 Le Mans-winning team - Seikel Motorsports - with drivers Philip Collin and Tony Burgess (the Italian drivers Rosa/Babini/Drudi won Le Mans); the Racer's Group, with owner Kevin Buckler entered with Walnut Creek, CA's Tyler McQuarrie; a Dick Barbour Racing entry with drivers Randy Wars and Grady Willingham; and the Kyser Racing entry of Kye Wankum and Jeff Pabst.
Practice starts on Friday, July 20, with final qualifying for the X-Factor Grand Prix of Sonoma taking place on Saturday at 1:55 PM EST for Sunday's event.
The X-Factor Grand Prix of Sonoma will be telecast live on the NBC television network starting at 4:00 PM Eastern time on Sunday, July 22 (check local listings for the exact time in different time zones). The race, along with qualifying sessions starting July 21, will be broadcast live on the Le Mans Radio Network, which can be accessed on the Web at www.americanlemans.com. That same American Le Mans Series Web site will also have live timing and scoring during qualifying and the race event.
The official Porsche Web site - www.porsche.com - will have qualifying information on the X-Factor Grand Prix of Sonoma for all the Porsches entered, and will file stories and photos during and after the race. Porsche Web site users should choose "North A merica" on the home page when prompted to choose a country, then choose "motorsports," then "motorsport news" to find the ALMS updates.
Other Web sites that will follow the overall event include the American Le Mans site mentioned above, Motorsport.com (www.motorsport.com)