Indianapolis/Stuttgart - September 21 - After the premiere of the Porsche-Pirelli-Supercup on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year, the world's fastest international single marque series returns to the legendary circuit for the two final...
Indianapolis/Stuttgart - September 21 - After the premiere of the Porsche-Pirelli-Supercup on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year, the world's fastest international single marque series returns to the legendary circuit for the two final rounds with two American racing stars added to the talented international field.
Sam Hornish, Jr., the 22 year-old Defiance, Ohio, racer who won the 2001 Indy Racing League championship, will step out of his open-wheel racer into a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car to challenge the best GT sedan racers from Europe in two races preceeding the U.S. Grand Prix September 29 - 30.
Hornish, who has spent the last two years running the ovals of the IRL schedule, has four years of road racing experience including successes in the U.S. F2000 Championship and the Kool/Toyota Atlanta Championship (1999) including the first victory ever at the then-new Chicago Motor Speedway.
David Donohue, 34, from Malvern, Penn., has taken a different route in his career as a race driver, winning the Bridgestone Supercar Championship during his first professional season (1994) and the CART Super Touring Driver's title in 1997.
Donohue, whose late father Mark won the Indianapolis 500 in 1972, didn't start racing professionally right after his graduation from Lehigh University in 1991. After spending several years in amateur club racing, he began his profesional career at the urgings of Mark Donohue collegues Johnny Rutherford and Mario Andretti.
Since turning professional, Donohue has raced anything and everything with four wheels, from sports car racing to driving NASCAR, GT, Super Touring, FIA and ACO International GT sports cars competitions as well as the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
The third American racing star is Gunnar Jeannette, from West Palm Beach, Florida, who, at 19 years-old, is the youngest driver in the event. Son of Kevin Jeanette, a veteran Porsche race car restorer and preparer, Gunnar became the youngest driver ever to enter the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2000 at the age of 17 when he co-drove a Porsche with Paul Newman, the oldest driver in the event.
U.S. road racing fans will also recognize the entry of Sascha Maassen, the German GT driver who is in contention for the second year in a row for the American Le Mans Series championship in his Alex Job Racing McKenna Porsche 911 GT3 RS.
Besides the American guest drivers, these two Porsche-Pirelli- Supercup races feature the European drivers who will be fighting for the season points title.
Travelling to the USA as favorite in the 370 hp, 180 mph Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car is 25-year-old businessman Jorg Bergmeister from Germany. At the inaugural Supercup race last year in Indy, Bergmeister swept the field, taking pole position, fastest race lap and victory in Sunday event. Over the 2001 season, Bergmeister has turned seven pole positions into six wins and currently leads the series by 25 points. Victory in the Supercup is rewarded with 20 points; 40 points are up for grabs over the Indy weekend.
Bergmeister's only real threat comes from his team mate and toughest rival Marco Werner from Germany. The 35-year-old Porsche specialist won the Austrian and Belgian rounds and has regularly finished in the top five. American sports car fans might remember Werner as part of the team that won the 1995 24 Hours of Daytona - the last Porsche overall victory at that event.
While the fight for the title is an all-German duel, other competitors are determined to show the American public their mettle: 1998 Le Mans winner Stephane Ortelli from Monaco won his home race in Monte Carlo as well as the German round this season. Ex-Indy 500 driver Alex Zampedri climbed the podium twice this year (3rd in Austria & Hungary) and is looking to bring a repeat result from his favorite track.
The six Supercup main-players after ten rounds:
1st - Jorg Bergmeister (Germany, 25 years-old), entry no. 5, 157 points, Infineon Team Farnbacher. Born 13 February 1976 in Germany, Bergmeister is one of the youngest competitors and contests his second Supercup season this year. Seven pole positions and six wins from ten rounds. In 2000 secured the German Carrera Cup championship and currently ranks second overall this season. Also won the final Supercup round in Indy (USA). 1993 Formula Konig champion, 1995 Formula Opel vice-champion.
2nd - @!Marco Werner (Germany, 35 years-old), entry no. 4, 132 points, Infineon Team Farnbacher. Also in his second season the ex-F3 ace took victory in Austria and Spa, second at the season-opener in Imola and third place in Monaco. Retired in Silverstone with gearbox damage. 1991/92 German Formula 3 vice-champion, won the F3 GP in Monaco in 1992. Switched to GT sport in the mid-nineties, won Daytona with Porsche in 1995. 1996/97 STW and Porsche makes cups.
3rd - Wolf Henzler (Germany, 26 years-old), entry no. 9, 123 points, Porsche Centre Rhein-Oberberg. Now in his second Supercup season, secured top five results from almost every round so far with two second places (MC, GB). 1995-1998 German F3, 1999 European F3000 championship.
4th - Stephane Ortelli (Monaco, 31 years-old) entry no. 15, 111 points, Kadach Tuning team. Victory in Monaco, third in Imola, second in Austria. Retired in Silverstone with brake problems and in Hungary after a collision with Wolf Henzler in the first corner. The bachelor and racing professional won the Le Mans 24 Hour race in 1998 with Porsche and took second last year. Ortelli finished his 2000 Supercup season third overall.
5th - Tim Bergmeister (Germany, 26 years-old) entry no. 12, 104 points, M.A.T. Racing. After a shaky start to the season the elder brother of the series' leader collected points from the last four rounds (EUR 2nd; GB 3rd; D 4th, H 2nd). Like his brother, the qualified master mechanic won the Formula Konig (1992), moved temporarily to the USA (Barber Dodge Pro Series), before taking up the Porsche Cups challenge last year.
6th - Philipp Peter (Austria, 32 years-old) entry no. 6, 97 points, Infineon Technologies Team Farnbacher. Undoubtedly the quickest new-comer to the Porsche-Pirelli-Supercup this year. Climbed the podium in Spa and Monza in third and secured regular top ten finishes. Rose through the motorsport ranks: From Formula racing to Austrian F3 vice-champion, STW, Indy Lights (3rd in 1999), second in his class (and third overall)at Daytona last year driving a GT3 R.