Sebring: Porsche Motorsports preview

Porsches Constitute 25 Percent Of 50TH Sebring Field ALTANTA, Georgia - March 4, 2002 - The most successful marque in the 50 years of Sebring - Porsche - is the emblem on 15 of the 60 cars that will start the Mobil1 12 Hours of Sebring March 16...

Porsches Constitute 25 Percent Of 50TH Sebring Field

ALTANTA, Georgia - March 4, 2002 - The most successful marque in the 50 years of Sebring - Porsche - is the emblem on 15 of the 60 cars that will start the Mobil1 12 Hours of Sebring March 16 at Sebring International Raceway.

"The celebration of 50 years of the Sebring 12-hour event is a Porsche celebration as well," said Alwin Springer, president of Porsche Motorsport North America.

"We have 17 overall wins here, and 44 class victories," added Springer, "putting Porsche far ahead of any other make that has competed at Sebring. For all the Porsche racers and teams who have raced here in the past, and the hundreds of thousands of Porsche owners around the world who appreciate this accomplishment, we are proud to be at Sebring 2002 just as strong as ever."

The hottest Porsche team so far in 2002 is The Racers Group, led by owner/driver Kevin Buckler, veteran Porsche competitor from Sonoma, California. He comes to Sebring with his name on the 2002 Daytona 24 Hour GT Championship trophy. Buckler, who will drive the #66 Daytona-winning Racers Group Porsche 911 GT3 RS with Michael Schrom and defending Grand-Am champion Darren Law, will be one of the class favorites. He, Schrom, and German GT drivers Jorg Bergmeister and Timo Bernhard, finished seventh overall and four laps ahead of their nearest GT competitors while leading the class for the majority of the 24 Hours at Daytona. Buckler has entered a second Porsche for Tampa's Bob Nagel and Larry Schumacher from Cincinnati. Alex Job Racing, located in Tavaras, Florida (near Orlando) - last year's Sebring GT champion - has announced that it will enter two Porsche 911 GT3 RS race cars for the entire 2002 American Le Mans Series, including the upcoming 12 Hours of Sebring.

The two cars, the same #22 and #23 McKenna Porsches that took the first two GT spots in last year's Sebring event, will be piloted by four veteran German GT drivers. #22 will be driven all season by 2001 German Carrera Cup Champion Timo Bernhard - who drove in ALMS for the White Lightning Porsche team in the second half of the year - and Jorg Bergmeister, the 2001 Porsche Pirelli Supercup Champion. As mentioned, Bernhard and Bergmesiter teamed with The Racers Group owner/driver Kevin Buckler to win the GT Class at the recent 24 Hours of Daytona.

The #23 car has the same driver combination it did last year - Lucas Luhr and Sascha Maassen. Luhr and Maassen have both won ALMS races the past two years, and both have finished in the top five in the final GT point standing, with Sascha contending for the championship both in 2000 and 2001 right down to the last event. Luhr has won Sebring two years in a row in the GT Class - with Alex Job in 2001 and with Dick Barbour Racing in 2000. At the recent Daytona event, the two drivers joined Hurley Haywood and Andy Wallace in the Champion Lola Porsche to finish fourth overall after spending the first 11 laps in the pits.

Alex Job, owner of the team, apologized for the late announcement of his 2002 plans for the McKenna Porsches, but said arrangements such as sponsors, driver contracts, and equipment were slow to come together. McKenna Porsche, a large Porsche dealer in Norwalk, California, is back for its second year of involvement with Alex Job Racing.

A new team in the American Le Mans Series is the Jupiter, Florida - based Orbit Racing, which has moved from the rival Grand-Am series to run two Porsches in this year's ALMS events starting with Sebring. Leo Hindery, from Hillsborough, Calif., Peter Baron, from San Mateo, Calif., and Mike Borkowski, from Scottsdale, Ariz., will pilot the #43 Orbit Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RS (the trio was joined by Kyle Petty at Daytona last month), while the team's #42 Porsche will be driven by Gary Schultheis from Boca Raton, Fla., and Tony Kester, from Michigan City, Mich.

Another new team for ALMS this season is Justin Jackson Racing, based in Atlanta. Jackson will be one of the drivers in the J3 Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RS. He will be joined by veterans Mike Fitzgerald from Phoenix and David Murry from Atlanta.

Overseas entries have always been an important part of the Sebring field, and this year finds the Porsche GT grid filled with drivers and teams from Italy, Germany, Switzerland, England, and New Zealand. Seikel Motorsport, a Porsche team with headquarters both in the U.S. and Germany, has entered the #53 Porsche 911 GT3 RS which won the 24 Hours of Le Mans last year. Gabrio Rosa and former Formula I star Alex Caffi have been joined by fellow Italian veteran Luca Riccitelli to challenge the North American drivers. The second Seikel car, the #52 Porsche GT3 RS, will have Hugh Plumb, from Chadds Ford, Penn., along with Philip Collin from Chicago and Andrew Bagnall from New Zealand at the helm.

Other overseas Porsche 911 GT3 RS entries include the 2001 European Le Mans Series GT champions Harlow Motorsports entry of Englishmen Mike Youles and Terry Rymer, who are being joined by ALMS veteran Johnny Mowlem, also from London; the two-car P.K. Sport Ltd. British entry of Masarati/Demeroutis/Alexander and Liddell/Babini/Anapoli; and the Cirtek Motorsport Porsche of Wilson/Dawson/Gooding, also from England.

Since the Porsche 911 GT3 RS family of race cars was introduced in 1999, the car has been constantly updated and improved, but race fans will be hard pressed to tell the difference between the 1999 and 2000 GT3 R, and the 2001 and 2002 GT3 RS. The latest version of the Porsche 911 GT3 RS, and is almost identical to the 2001 model. The engine and drivetrain are the same, and the car still produces 420 horsepower, but improvements have been made in the suspension, including a blade adjustment for the front sway bar for easy pit lane adjustments, and new rear suspension uprights. The bodywork is slightly wider to accommodate the wider offset Michelin tires.

Built at the Porsche Motorsport in the Research and Development Department at Weissach, the Porsche 911 GT3 RS delivers 420 horsepower from its 3.6-liter normally-aspirated engine. In 1999, its first year of competition, the car finished 1-2 in class at Le Mans, and has won its class in the both the Grand Am and American Le Mans Series two years in a row. The car has also won its class three years in a row at the Daytona 24 Hours and the two years running at the 12 Hours of Sebring as well as the 24 Hours of Le Mans. More than 80 Porsche 911 GT3 RS have been sold so far worldwide, with almost half of those cars having raced in the U.S.

The 50th annual Mobil1 12 Hours of Sebring will be broadcast live on the Speed Channel (formerly know as Speedvision) network starting at 10:30 AM Eastern time on Saturday, March 16, beginning with the 30-minute pre-race show. Then, the Speed Channel will telecast the entire 12-hour event live starting at 11:00 AM. The race will be broadcast in Europe on a tape-delayed basis on Sunday, March 24, at 20:00 Central European Time on the Eurosport television network. The 12-hour event, along with qualifying sessions starting March 14 at 1:50 PM EST, will be broadcast live online on the American 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 12 Hours at Sebring for all the Porsches entered, and will file stories and photos during and after the race. Porsche web site uses should choose "North America" on the home page when prompted to choose a country, then choose "motorsports," then "news" to find the ALMS updates.

Other Web sites that will follow the overall event include TotalMotorsport (www.totalmotorsport.com); The Race Site (www.theRaceSite.com), the Speed Channel site (www.speedvision.com), Motorsport.com (www.motorsport.com), AutoSport magazine's site (www.autosport.com), AutoRacingDaily.com (www.autoracingdaily.com), Motorsport-news.com (motorsport-news.com), Crash.com (www.crash.com) Raceline.com (www.raceline.com), and Daily Sports Car (www.dailysportscar.com).

PORSCHE MAJOR WINS & CHAMPIONSHIPS (overall)

World Championship of Makes (Teams):14
European Hill-climb Championship: 20
Formula 1 World Driver's Championship: 3
Formula 1 Wins: 26
Le Mans 24 Hours: 16
Sebring 12 Hours: 17
Targa Florio: 11
Monte Carlo Rally: 4
Paris-Dakar Rally: 2
SEBRING FACTS
Overall Wins: 17 (Ferrari is second with 12)
Class Wins: 44
Porsche 911 Wins: 23 Overall and Class Victories
1st Overall Win: 1960
GT Class Wins: 21 (since 1979)
13 Year Winning Streak (overall): 1976-1988

-porsche-

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Series ALMS
Drivers Andy Wallace , Kyle Petty , David Murry , Sascha Maassen , Lucas Luhr , Kevin Buckler , Leo Hindery , Tony Kester , Darren Law , Jörg Bergmeister , Dick Barbour , Timo Bernhard , Michael Schrom , Luca Riccitelli , Andrew Bagnall , Mike Borkowski , Johnny Mowlem , Alex Caffi , Justin Jackson , Alex Job , Mike Youles , Terry Rymer
Teams Alex Job Racing