Sebring: Porsche preview

PORSCHE STRIVES FOR 47TH SEBRING 12-HOUR CLASS WIN Porsche ALMS regulars, European guests will seek Porsche's 12th straight class win at America's oldest sports car event before more than 100,000 people and live on Speed Channel TV on Saturday,...

PORSCHE STRIVES FOR 47TH SEBRING 12-HOUR CLASS WIN

Porsche ALMS regulars, European guests will seek Porsche's 12th straight class win at America's oldest sports car event before more than 100,000 people and live on Speed Channel TV on Saturday, March 19-

ATLANTA - March 14 - Porsche race teams will try for the marque's 47th class win at Sebring this weekend at the 53rd Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, Saturday, March 20.

At the close of entries deadline, 40 cars have entered the event, including 19 in the GT2 (formerly called GT) class, with 13 of those cars being Porsches. The strongest Porsche teams from North America will battle Le Mans contenders from Europe and a selection of Panoz Esperantes, TVRs, and Spykers in the GT class in what should be the closest racing of the weekend.

Two of the top teams are from nearby Florida regions, including the three-time defending American Le Mans Series GT champions, Tavaras, Florida-based Alex Job Racing and the Stuart, Florida team of BAM! Racing.

Alex Job Racing has been preparing Porsches for Sebring since the 1980s, and will enter two Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs - one piloted by Porsche factory drivers and the other entered for former factory pilot Randy Pobst, rookie Ian Baas, U.S. Formula Ford 2000 champion, and GT veteran (and Porsche dealer) Brian Cunningham. Frenchman Romain Dumas, who captured four ALMS poles in four tries last season, will team with defending ALMS GT champion Timo Bernhard in the lead car - along with two-time ALMS co-champion Sascha Maassen. Maassen has won the GT class at Sebring four years in a row including last year with AJR and Timo Bernhard. Only the legendary Bob Holbert and Maassen's former co- driver Lucas Luhr have won their class four years in a row at Sebring. Holbert, father of the late Al Holbert, accomplished the feat in the '60s, while Luhr won 2000 - 2003. Randy Pobst, who drove for Alex Job Racing 1998 - 2001 including the 2001 season as a Porsche factory driver, re-joins Alex Job Racing for the first time since that season.

The BAM! Racing team, from Stuart, FL, is back for its second season with familiar lead driver Leo Hindery, president of the YES Network - the New York Yankees cable TV outlet - along with Canadian Tony Burgess and Danish driver Martin Jensen. Hindery, who retired as a full-time driver last year, is running Sebring with the hope of being invited to Le Mans one more time. Their Porsche 911 GT3 RSR will also be shod with Yokohama Tires, the company's first effort in ALMS GT2 in several years. Competitor Michelin has won the GT/GT2 class in ALMS all six seasons the series has been in business.

The Las Vegas-based Petersen/White Lightning Motorsports team, which teamed with Alex Job to win the Le Mans 24-hour event in 2003 and then won the Le Mans event themselves in 2004, will enter the Le Mans-winning Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, being driven by Jorg Bergmeister, Patrick Long and Lucas Luhr. The team's new driver combination includes Bergmeister and Long, who were on the podium with White Lightning at Le Mans and will drive the car for the season, and Luhr, who finished second last year with Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas in the second Alex Job Racing Porsche.

Flying Lizard Motorsports will enter two new Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs, including the lead "Lizards'" entry with drivers Johannes van Overbeek, Darren Law, and John Fogarty sharing the racing duties. Porsche GT veteran and driving instructor David Murry will drive the other Porsche with Seth Neiman and Lonnie Pechnik. Only in their second year of ALMS competition, the team made an impact in last year's action by winning one race (Mid-Ohio) and finishing in the top three all season. Fogarty, the 2003 Formula Atlanta champion will replace Law as van Overbeek's regular driver for the 2005 season as Darren has committed to the Brumos Racing Porsche Fabcar Grand-Am ride for the season. The three finished fourth at Sebring after Fogarty made up more than a lap on the third-place car in the waning moments of the event, just missing a podium finish.

Two-time Rolex 24 and Le Mans champion Kevin Buckler, who owns the Petaluma, Calif.-based TRG racing team, will be entering two cars to try to overcome several years of bad luck at Sebring - the only major endurance title to elude him. Buckler is stepping back into the drivers seat at Sebring after being just a team owner in ALMS last year, co-driving one of the TRG Porsches with Rolex 24 winner Pierre Ehret and Andrew Davis. The other TRG Porsche will be driven by Belgian adventurer Marc Sluszny, Michael Cawley, and Tracy Krohn.

Atlanta-based J-3 Racing, with team owner Justin Jackson at the helm, returns for its fourth Sebring appearance, along with English co-driver Sudgen in a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. Also returning for a fourth year is the British-based P.K.

Sport team, entering its Porsche 911 GT3 RS for drivers yet-to-be-announced. The other Porsches entered include the Zip Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RS piloted by Steve Ivankovich/Spencer Pumpelly/Andy Lally, and the In2Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Juan Barazi from Switzerland amd Michael Vergers from England.

Built at Porsche Motorsport in the Research and Development Department at Weissach, the Porsche 911 GT3 R finished 1-2 in class at Le Mans in 1999, and has won its class in both the Grand Am and American Le Mans Series on multiple occasions. The car has also won its class six years in a row at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and five years running at the 12 Hours of Sebring.

More than 225 Porsche 911 GT3 R/RS/RSR racecars have been sold so far worldwide, with almost half of those cars having raced in the U.S.

Based on the Porsche 911 GT3 RS street car (996 body style and drive train) sold in Europe, the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR features improvements to its predecessor in all key areas. The vehicle is available in an ACO (Automobile Club de l`Ouest) version for competing in Le Mans and in the American Le Mans Series as well as in a FIA specification.

The 911 GT3 RSR features a modified front, which improves down force at the front axle. Its 3.6-litre, six-cylinder boxer engine delivers 445 hp at 8,250 revs. Maximum torque is now 405 Nm at 7,200 rpm, with top revs reached at 8,500 (for the FIA specification with two 30.8 mm air restrictors). New pistons and rods as well as a new valve gear result in a moderate power increase with the focus on further-improved drivability and durability.

A six speed sequential gearbox with ignition cut ensures quick gearshifts at full throttle and offers reliable protection of the gearbox from shifting mistakes.

The suspension, with McPherson struts in the front and the Porsche multi-link axle at the rear, features new kinematics thanks to new wheel-uprights and modified mounting points. Further improved turning in and reduced tire wear are the most obvious results of these modifications. The double springs adjustable to four settings, the adjustable shock absorbers and anti-roll bars as well as unibal joints ensure a precise set-up to suit each circuit.

The brake system features four-piston aluminum calipers on all wheels with discs measuring 380 mm diameter in the front and 355 mm at the rear.

Weighing 1,100 kgs (FIA specification) or 1,115 kgs (ACO spec) the 911 GT3 RSR sits at the minimum weight limit. Porsche offers various kits for different competition purposes.

The 53rd Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring will be televised live - flag to flag - on The Speed Channel starting at 10:30 AM Eastern time on Saturday, March 20. The Speed Channel will telecast a 15-minute pre-race show, followed by the green flag at 10:45 AM, and will stay with the race through the checkered flag at 10:45 PM - plus the victory circle and post-race celebration until 11:00 PM.

The official Porsche media web site - www.press.porsche.com - will have qualifying information for the Sebring event for the Porsches entered, and will post stories and photos during and after the race. Porsche media web site users enter the word "carrera" for both user name and password, then choose "motorsports news" and "ALMS" to find the Sebring updates. 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 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring can be found on the official site for the American Le Mans Series (www.americanlemans.com), where fans can follow the qualifying sessions and the race with live timing and scoring on-line as well as American Le Mans Radio Web, a live radio broadcast of all qualifying sessions as well as the entire 12-hour race.

Other Web sites that will follow the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring include Daily Sports Car (www.dailysportscar.com), The Race Site (www.theracesite.com), the Speed Channel site (www.speedTV.com), Motorsport.com (www.motorsport.com) , AutoSport magazine's site (www.autosport.com), AutoRacingDaily.com (www.autoracingdaily.com), Motorsport-news.com (www.motorsport-news.com), Crash.net (www.crash.net), racinglines.com (www.racinglines.com), EnduranceSportsCar.com (www.endurancesportscar.com), pitstop.com (www.pitstop.com); and Speed Arena (www.speedarena.com).

PORSCHE SEBRING FACTS

Overall Wins: 17 (Ferrari is second with 12)
Class Wins: 47 (a manufacturer record)
Fastest race average speed: 115.82 mph (Akin/Stuck/Gartner in a Porsche 962 - 1986)
Fastest race lap: 130.707 mph by Derek Bell in a Porsche 962 - 1986)
Porsche 911 Wins: 26 Overall and Class Victories
1st Overall Win: 1960
GT Class Wins: 24 (since 1979)
13 Year Winning Streak (overall): 1976-1988
At least one Porsche has competed at Sebring every year since 1953 - 53 straight races. No other manufacturer is close to that record.

-porsche-

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers David Murry , Michael Vergers , Randy Pobst , Tony Burgess , Sascha Maassen , Lucas Luhr , Kevin Buckler , Leo Hindery , Andy Lally , Darren Law , Jörg Bergmeister , Timo Bernhard , Al Holbert , Pierre Ehret , Patrick Long , Derek Bell , Johannes van Overbeek , Spencer Pumpelly , Andrew Davis , Marc Lieb , Michael Cawley , Romain Dumas , Justin Jackson , Seth Neiman , Lonnie Pechnik , Ian Baas , Juan Barazi , Marc Sluszny , Martin Jensen , Alex Job
Teams Alex Job Racing , Flying Lizard Motorsports