Sebring: Porsche LMP2 preview



SEBRING, Fla. - March 10 - A new dose of excitement, two Porsche LMP2 prototypes, will be thrust onto the American Le Mans Series scene starting with the 54th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 18.

The two Penske Porsche RS Spyder race cars, driven by six drivers who either hold ALMS or ACO titles, and who have won all the world's top endurance races, will compete at Sebring after an exhaustive, year-long development and test period which included an LMP2 victory for Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr at the ALMS finale at Laguna Seca last October in what the Porsche factory called "a test race."

"Our organization is really looking forward to competing with the RS Spyder once again. Our test race in Laguna Seca provided invaluable experience for our Team as we continue on our learning curve in the ALMS," said Tim Cindric, President, Penske Performance, Inc.

"We have continued to work toward our goals of combining the efforts of two successful racing cultures to create a winning combination with a clean sheet of paper design. The two- car effort will add another dimension to our race weekend regiment and we hope the return of Penske and Porsche to Sebring will be as rewarding for the fans as it has been for our Team," said Cindric.

The car

The heart of the new Porsche LMP2 is its newly-designed 3.4-liter, 90-degree, V-8 engine. Limited to 480 horsepower at 10,100 rpm by ACO air restrictor regulations, the power plant is lightweight with a very low center of gravity. It features four valves per cylinder, a dry sump lubrication system, and an air intake manifold with individual-cylinder throttle valves.

The engine is mated to a Porsche-engineered, sequential, six-speed constant mesh transmission. A structural part of the car, the gearbox is operated via a paddle shift system on the steering wheel and incorporates a triple-disc carbon fiber racing clutch.

Like the 1998 911 GT1 racecar and current Carrera® GT street car, the Porsche LMP2's monocoque chassis is constructed of carbon fiber. Attached to this strong yet lightweight framework (built to the latest safety standards of international road racing) is a front and rear double-wishbone suspension with ball joints, adjustable front and rear anti-roll bars, and ZF Sachs four-way shock absorbers.

For optimal stopping performance, the braking system includes twin master cylinders, adjustable brake balance, and internally vented carbon brake discs (380 mm front and 355 mm rear). For driver comfort and safety, the new prototype is equipped with power steering and a tire pressure control system. An integral partner in the car's development process, Michelin is supplying race tires for the new Porsche prototype.

Similar to modern aircraft construction, the bodywork is comprised of carbon fiber reinforced by Kevlar composites. Incorporating an adjustable rear wing, it has been created for maximum aerodynamic efficiency and the lowest possible weight and replacement cost. Considering the car is intended for customer teams, its LMP2 mandated weight of 1,705 lb. or 775 kg. was achieved through an integrated lightweight design rather than the mere use of expensive and exotic materials.

The drivers

Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr, who drove the car to its inaugural LMP2 class win at Laguna Seca last October, and Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas, who teamed up for a very successful ALMS GT2 season in 2005, will be the season-long team drivers. For the longer races - the upcoming Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in September - requiring three drivers, Emmanuel Collard and American Patrick Long will join the regulars.

Maassen, originally from Germany and now living in Belgium, is the most successful GT driver in American Le Mans Series history (22 wins) and has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 12 Hours of Sebring (four times) and the ALMS GT2 championship (three times). Luhr, also originally from Germany and now living in Monaco, has also won at Le Mans, also won Sebring four times, and shared in the ALMS GT2 championship with Maassen 2002 - 2003 - all in Porsche 911 GT3 RS/RSR race cars. Lucas and Sascha moved on to the European FIA- GT N/GT series in 2004, where they won the championship in a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.

Bernhard (Germany) and Dumas (France) won four ALMS GT2 events in 2005 in their Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, and finished a close second in the year-end championship. Bernhard won the ALMS GT2 title in 2004 with co-driver Jorg Bergmeister.

Emmanuel Collard, originally from France and now living in England, has won a race in ALMS (with Maassen and Luhr at Petit Le Mans in 2004), and most recently (2004) at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. Collard was co-champion in the GT2 class in the FIA-GT series this past season, and also won the 2005 Le Mans European Series LMP1 championship.

Patrick Long, originally from Los Angeles and now living in Las Vegas, as the only American employed as a Porsche factory driver, teamed with Jorg Bergmeister this past year to win the American Le Mans Series GT2 class championship in the Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. Also, Long and Bergmeister were named as a American Auto Race Writers and Broadcasters (AARWBA) All-American racing first team selection for their efforts. Long has won the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, both with Petersen/White Lightning.

The Penske Porsche RS Spyder is supported by Porsche's racing partners led by DHL Global Mail, Mobil 1, Hyatt Hotels, Michelin, adidas, and ZF Sachs AG.

Commissioned by Porsche Cars North America, Inc. (PCNA) and Porsche Motorsport North America, Inc. (PMNA) for racing customers who compete in the LMP2 (Le Mans Prototype 2) class of the ALMS, the Porsche RS Spyder features a completely new Porsche engine, transmission, and chassis, all incorporating the latest in Porsche automotive technology and created to conform to new 2006 rules and regulations of international sanctioning body Automobil Club de l'Ouest.

The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, round one of the ten-race American Le Mans Series, will be held at Sebring International Raceway on Saturday, March 18 from 10:30 AM EST to 10:30 PM. The race will be telecast live on Speed Channel starting at 10:00 AM EST, and in Europe on Motors TV. Also, a live web radio broadcast can be heard on the American Le Mans Series web site - The ALMS site will also carry live scoring for qualifying - March 16 at 3:15 PM EST - as well as for the complete race.

Penske Motorsports, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Penske Racing, Inc., will field the two Porsche prototypes for the entire 2006 ALMS season starting with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

Porsche Cars North America, Inc. (PCNA), based in Atlanta, Ga., and its subsidiary, Porsche Cars Canada, Ltd., are the exclusive importers of Porsche sports cars and Cayenne® sport utility vehicles for the United States and Canada. A wholly owned, indirect subsidiary of Dr. Ing. h.c.F. Porsche AG, PCNA employs approximately 300 people who provide Porsche vehicles, parts, service, marketing and training for its 209 U.S. and Canadian dealers. They, in turn, provide Porsche owners with best-in-class service.


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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Emmanuel Collard , Sascha Maassen , Lucas Luhr , Jörg Bergmeister , Timo Bernhard , Patrick Long , Romain Dumas
Teams Team Penske