Utah: Porsche Motorsport preview

AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES RACE IN SALT LAKE CITY FINDS PORSCHE 911 GT3 RSR TEAMS AT SEASON CROSSROADS EARLY IN THE SEASON ATLANTA - May 13 - For the Porsche customer teams in the GT2 class of the American le Mans Series, this weekend's Larry H.


ATLANTA - May 13 - For the Porsche customer teams in the GT2 class of the American le Mans Series, this weekend's Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix in Salt Lake City is a pivotal event for a multitude of reasons. For the Flying Lizard Motorsports team, it represents a chance to expand their class points lead. For Farnbacher Loles Racing, the race is an opportunity to put back luck behind them. And for VICI Racing, young drivers and a new sponsor have a chance to make an impression.

The Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix at Miller Motorsports Park will be held on Sunday, May 17, at 4:15 p.m EDT, and last for two hours and 45 minutes. The race, which will broadcast live on American Le Mans Radio (www.americanlemans.com) and Sirius Channel 126/XM Channel 242, will be telecast same day on a delayed basis starting at 10:00 PM EDT on SPEED TV.

Heading into the fourth of ten ALMS races this season, Flying Lizard Motorsports, fielding two Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs, is currently leading in the GT2 team championship, with Porsche factory drivers Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA), in the Flying Lizard No. 45 Porsche, and Seth Neiman and Johannes van Overbeek (both USA) in the No. 44 Porsche. Following two wins in a row at St. Petersburg and Long Beach, Bergmeister and Long are currently leading in the GT2 drivers' championship. Neiman is currently in fourth in the drivers points chase.

For this event, the American Le Mans Series will be competing on the 3.048-mile, 15-turn "outer ring" course for the Utah Grand Prix. Bergmeister is looking forward to being back on a purpose-built road course.

"I really like racing at Miller; it's fast, a real road course, and pretty smooth. Lots of fast corners, which are fun. The Lizards had a very successful race here last year -- the pole, a win for the No. 45, and a second place as well -- hopefully we can repeat that success again this year."

van Overbeek joins Neiman in the No. 44 for his second race of the season. "It will be great to be back on track again, it's been a while since Sebring in March. The team had a good test here at Miller in late April and I think we've really learned a lot since Sebring about what the 2009 Porsches need from us in terms of setup," said the former Porsche Cup winner.

For Patrick Long, the only American Porsche factory driver, victory under these conditions is not necessarily the be all and end all.

"The adjustment in this year's rules might mean the American V-8 entries have an advantage at this wide- open race track, but, for us, the main thing is to bring home as many points towards the championship as possible," said Long.

Wolf Henzler (Germany) hasn't written off securing the title either, even though the season so far hasn't run exactly as the Porsche factory driver had planned. In the Farnbacher Loles Racing 911 GT3 RSR, he already secured pole position two times, but was hampered by bad luck in the race. For Salt Lake City, where Porsche works driver Marc Lieb (Germany) will support him, the reigning champion is still optimistic.

"Somehow I hope my luck will change in the race as well," said Henzler, who secured the GT2 title last year with Bergmeister.

"This track can be a problem if sand blows across the circuit. If it's really windy the conditions can change from lap to lap. You have to take care not to get an unpleasant surprise," he said.

After three rounds in the American Le Mans Series, the Farnbacher Loles Racing team is looking to Miller Motorsports Park outside of Salt Lake City for a change of luck. The team has started every race from the front row, with two poles and a p2 in qualifying in their Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The driving duo of Wolf Henzler and Dirk Werner (both Germany) have led at each race this season, but podiums have been elusive so far. Both drivers sit 10th in points heading into Sunday's event. Due to a race schedule conflict, Werner will miss this round, so Wolf will team with fellow German factory driver Marc Lieb.

T-Mobile VICI Racing kicked off its challenge in the 2009 ALMS at Long Beach last month with an excellent fourth place finish. Following a compromised qualifying performance, Richard Westbrook (England), making his first start for the team and his first start at Long Beach, was left with the task of fighting his way past the factory-supported BMW entries on the tight and twisting city streets where overtaking is next to impossible. However the #18 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR clearly had a better pace and some skilful driving by the Englishman meant he was able to muscle his way past and hand the car over at mid-distance to team-mate Johannes Stuck (Austria), also making his debut on this track, who was able to control the gaps and bring the car safely home. For Salt Lake City, Stuck will be joined by Dutch driver Nicky Pastorelli.

-credit: porsche motorsport

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Patrick Long , Johannes van Overbeek , Marc Lieb , Seth Neiman , Wolf Henzler , Nicky Pastorelli , Dirk Werner , Richard Westbrook , Johannes Stuck
Teams Flying Lizard Motorsports