HANS STUCK JOINS PORSCHE REGULARS TO CHASE MOBIL 1 TWELVE HOURS OF SEBRING GT2 TITLE; DEFENDING GT2 CHAMPS BERGMEISTER, HENZLER NOW ON RIVAL TEAMS SEBRING, FL - March 17 - Co-defending GT2 champion drivers Joerg Bergmeister and Wolf Henzler...
HANS STUCK JOINS PORSCHE REGULARS TO CHASE MOBIL 1 TWELVE HOURS OF SEBRING GT2 TITLE; DEFENDING GT2 CHAMPS BERGMEISTER, HENZLER NOW ON RIVAL TEAMS
SEBRING, FL - March 17 - Co-defending GT2 champion drivers Joerg Bergmeister and Wolf Henzler (both Germany), now driving for rival Porsche 911 GT3 RSR teams for the 2009 American Le Mans Series, will lead a Porsche contingent for Saturday's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, including a special appearance by a three-time overall winner of the 12-hour classic.
The race, which takes the green flag on Saturday, March 21, at 10:30 AM EDT, will be telecast live on SPEED TV, with the pre-race show starting at 10:00 AM. The network will stay live until noon, and then come back on the air at 2:00 PM EDT through the checkered flag, and finish at 11:00 PM after the victory circle ceremony.
Hans Stuck (Germany), who won this race in 1975, 1986 and 1988 (the '80s races were in a Porsche 962), will run in the VICI Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR with his son Johannes. Stuck, now a corporate consultant at Volkswagen, is delighted to back at Sebring, and anxious to help his son develop his racing skills.
"Racing at Sebring again after winning for the first time in 1975 means a lot to me, especially when it comes to the fact that I can compete in the 2009 race with my son Johannes and further to that it will be my first race with Porsche since my last race for the factory in Laguna Seca 11 years ago in 1997. The other highlight is the fact that I'm racing for my old friend Ronnie Meixner - the VICI team owner - who I was team mate with in the times with Joest Racing when we raced Porsche 962."
The Porsche competition for the top step on the podium in GT2, however, will rest with the two main combatants from last year - Flying Lizard Motorsports (Sonoma, California) and Farnbacher Loles Racing (Braselton, Georgia). They will face stiff competition from new entries by Ferrari and BMW, and later in the season, from the factory Corvette team.
"We're heading into the new season feeling very confident. Our customer teams tested intensively in Sebring in January and the cars immediately ran very well," says Hartmut Kristen, Head of Porsche Motorsport. Due to changes in the technical regulations, which stipulate that the 911 GT3 RSR features a smaller air inlet restrictor and five millimeters more ride height, the teams virtually have to start from zero with their suspension set-up, but have made quick progress. "We found a good basic set-up that we can build on for the race."
Five of the 450 hp 911 GT3 RSR contest the GT2 class at the season-opener of the race series showcasing the world's fastest sports cars. Racing for the Flying Lizard Motorsports team, Porsche works drivers Joerg Bergmeister and Marc Lieb (both Germany) and Patrick Long (USA) hold good
winning chances in Sebring. In 2005, Bergmeister/Long won here for Porsche and secured the class championship title. With two Sebring victories to his credit (2005, 2008), as well as three championship titles (2005, 2006, 2008) with Porsche, Joerg Bergmeister is one of the most successful drivers in the American Le Mans Series.
"Sebring is the toughest race of the season and one of my favorites. The bumpy circuit is very demanding and hard to drive," says Joerg Bergmeister.
Like Patrick Long, he is thrilled with the further developed 911 GT3 RSR. After initial tests he said:
"The new car handles better than the old one, and that was already very good." For both Bergmeister and Long, the 2009 racing season kicked off with a class win at the Daytona 24 hour race as part of the Grand-Am Series in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup racer.
Sharing driving duties in the second Flying Lizard Motorsports 911 GT3 SRSR are Americans Darren Law, eth Neiman and Johannes van Overbeek.
Last year he won in Sebring with his team mate Joerg Bergmeister and went on to claim the title - this season, Porsche factory driver Wolf Henzler (Germany) shares the 911 GT3 RSR of Farnbacher Loles Racing with his fellow countryman Dirk Werner in the American Le Mans Series. In Sebring they will join forces with Porsche works driver Richard Lietz (Austria).
"We've made a noticeable step forward with our new car, which we already saw at our winter tests, says Wolf Henzler. "We are well prepared and figure we have good chances to win the championship."
VICI Racing also plans to race two 911 GT3 RSRs. Besides the two Stuck family members, Dutch driver Nicky Pastorelli will be the third driver in one car, while Lance David Arnold, Marc Basseng (both Germany), and Richard Westbrook (UK) will share the other VICI Porsche.
At least one Porsche has competed at Sebring every year since 1953 - 54 straight races (there was no race in 1974). No other manufacturer is close to that record.