BRISCOE, MAASSEN BRING PENSKE PORSCHE RS SPYDER TO THIRD STRAIGHT OVERALL ALMS WIN; PORSCHES FINISH FIRST THROUGH FOURTH IN LMP2 SALT LAKE CITY, Utah - May 19 - Sascha Maassen (Germany) and Ryan Briscoe (Australia) scored their first overall win...
BRISCOE, MAASSEN BRING PENSKE PORSCHE RS SPYDER TO THIRD STRAIGHT OVERALL ALMS WIN; PORSCHES FINISH FIRST THROUGH FOURTH IN LMP2
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah - May 19 - Sascha Maassen (Germany) and Ryan Briscoe (Australia) scored their first overall win in the American Le Mans Series in their number six Penske Porsche RS Spyder prototype at the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix this evening.
It was the third straight victory for the Penske Porsche LMP2 racers, which outdistanced the faster LMP1 class cars at Long Beach and Houston before scoring the 9.93-second win today at Miller Motorsports Park, 25 miles west of Salt Lake City.
The LMP1 Audi R10 of McNish/Capello was second overall, and then three Porsche RS Spyder LMP2 prototypes were third, fourth, and fifth (second, third and fourth in class). The Penske Porsche team car of Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France) finished second in LMP2, followed by the Dyson Racing Porsche RS Spyder of Andy Wallace (England) and Butch Leitzinger (USA), and the Dyson Racing Porsche team racer of Chris Dyson (USA) and Guy Smith (England).
In the championship point standings, Dumas/Bernhard now lead the LMP2 driver points with 91, while Maassen/Briscoe are second with 78 points. Wallace/Leitzinger have crept to within one point of the leading Acura drivers for third place. As the top Acura team finished in sixth place, Porsche has taken a commanding lead in the manufacturers points chase, 99 - 73.
"The regulations say that the field of cars should approach the starter stand at 50 miles-per- hour until the green flag is displayed, but by the time Romain and Sascha - who started our cars on the front row - saw the green flag, five cars had passed us," said Briscoe, who left right after the race to get ready for next week's Indy 500, where he has qualified in the seventh position.
"Roger Penske called us into the pits during the lap six yellow flag for a fuel top-off, and this put us back in 22nd place, but gave us a strategy that enabled us to finish the last 70 minutes without a stop. This and the fast race laps turned by my co-driver, Sascha Maassen, allowed us to overcome both the Acuras in LMP2 and the Audis in LMP1 to secure the win," he said.
Bernhard made a run at McNish during the last 30 minutes of the race for second place overall, but realized that the danger of running out of fuel and wearing out his tires would jeopardize his class finish, much more important than his overall position.
"Our Penske Porsche was running stronger and stronger as the race went on, as I was able to turn the fastest race lap on nine laps from the end, but the overall position was not worth the risk," said Bernhard, who already holds an ALMS drivers title (2004 GT2 Champion).
The Bernhard fastest lap was even a greater accomplishment as it was achieved with a car missing a large piece of carbon fiber from the rear under-tray after Dumas had a close encounter with the Mazda LMP2 racer. The under-tray is an important part of the car's aerodynamic package.
The Dyson Racing Porsches were quick all day, with both cars getting a good start in contrast to their Penske RS Spyder comrades. The Dyson/Smith prototype ran as high as second and the Wallace/Leitzinger Porsche had a late charge to finish third in LMP2.
In the GT2 class, the Salo/Melo Ferrari four-race winning streak ended as their Risi Ferrari 430 was sidelined with mechanical problems, but the Petersen White Lightning Ferrari edged the Jorg Bergmeister/Johannes van Overbeek Porsche 911 GT3 RSR for the class win. The Tafel Racing Porsche of Robin Liddell/Wolf Henzler was third.
The series takes a break in the month of June as many of the competitors will enter the 24 Hours of Le Mans (June 16 - 17), and will resume with the New England Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut on July 8.