Daytona 24: Porsche Racing preview

PORSCHE ENTRIES AIM FOR 21ST OVERALL WIN AND 60TH CLASS VICTORY - MORE THAN ANY OTHER MARQUE - IN THE 2005 24 HOURS AT DAYTONA DAYTONA BEACH, FL - January 31 - In the storied history of the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, Porsche has outdistanced all...

PORSCHE ENTRIES AIM FOR 21ST OVERALL WIN AND 60TH CLASS VICTORY - MORE THAN ANY OTHER MARQUE - IN THE 2005 24 HOURS AT DAYTONA

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - January 31 - In the storied history of the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, Porsche has outdistanced all other marques with 20 overall wins and 58 class victories, and Porsche Motorsport North America President Uwe Brettel would like nothing better than to see Porsche win another Rolex 24 overall and finish first in both classes again in 2005.

"Unlike other years when Porsche fielded factory teams at this race, we are hoping to get to the winners circle through the efforts of our customer teams," said Brettel, who took over the top spot at Porsche Motorsport North America a year ago.

"But many of these private teams are taking advantage of the broad support Porsche offers to all its customers, including engineering help, engine services, at-the-track trouble-shooting, parts availability, and public relations activity," said Brettel, who pointed out that three Porsche-powered Daytona Prototypes and 23 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup racers (in the GT class) are entered in this year's event, to be held February 5-6, 2005, starting at noon, at Daytona International Speedway.

In the Daytona Prototype class, the two original cars - the Brumos Fabcar Porsches - are back for a third season with stiffer chassis and improved performance. Mike Rockenfeller, Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas join regulars Hurley Haywood and J.C. France in the #59 car, while the #58 Red Bull entry has regulars David Donohue and Darren Law joined by Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr. Maassen, Luhr and Bernhard - all German drivers - are all former American Le Mans Series champions, with Bernhard winning the GT class at the Rolex 24 in 2002, and winning overall as well as GT in 2003 with The Racer's Group Porsche. Luhr was part of the winning Rolex 24 GT effort in 2001 in the Petersen/White Lightning Porsche. Dumas, a French driver, won four ALMS poles in four attempts last year, while Rockenfeller was part of the Flying Lizard team that was second in the GT class and third overall at the Rolex 24 last year.

The third Porsche-powered Fabcar, the Money Network/Performance Friction entry - a former Brumos race car - will be run by Tim, Josh and Jake Vargo from Tennessee and Brady Refenning, from Stuart, Florida. Highlights for this year's Porsche 911 GT3 Cup racing contingent include six entries from Kevin Buckler's The Racer's Group, including a new Porsche for Joe and Jay Policastro, winner's of last year's GT class, and a Porsche dubbed Team 16 for the three 16 year-old drivers who will be making their Rolex 24 debut - Brad Coleman, Colin Braun, and Adrian Carrio. The fastest of the Buckler entries during January practice days was the car driven by Buckler, Andy Lally, Carlos de Quesada, Hugh Plumb and Marc Bunting, while Canadian drivers from last year's Rolex 24 SGS winning team - Doncaster Racing - will be in a Porsche entered by Peter Baron's The Racer's Group East (David Lacey, Greg Wilkins, Mark Wilkins, David Shep along with Englishman Robert Nearn).

The fastest GT car in practice earlier this month was the TPC Porsche entry led by team owner Michael Levitas, former Rolex 24 GT winner Randy Pobst, Spencer Pompelly, Canadian Jean-Francois Dumoulin (in the winning Doncaster car last year), and John Littlefield. Levitas has entered another car which includes Mike Fitzgerald, who has won the GT class twice in the Rolex 24, and a third car which includes former Star Mazda champion Guy Cosmo. TPC won the Rolex Grand-Am SGS class championship in 2004 in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup racer.

The Flying Lizard Motorsport team, which finished second in GT a year ago in its first Rolex 24, and was second fastest during practice days, is back with the a familiar driver line-up including Porsche factory driver Patrick Long - the only American factory driver currently working for Porsche - along with Johannes van Overbeek, Jon Fogarty, Lonnie Pechnik and Seth Neiman.

Porsche Michelin Supercup champion Wolf Henzler and his Farnbacher Racing team have made the trip from Germany to contest the class in the Porsche GT3 Cup car which dominated that series last year, and Grand-Am Cup champions Wayne and Will Nonnamaker have entered three cars in the Rolex.

Other Porsche 911 GT3 Cup racers to watch include an all-star European team lead by Dieter Quester and Karl Wendlinger from Austria, Johnny Mowlem from England and Victor Vosse from Belgium. Baldwin-Tafel Racing has entered a Porsche for veterans Jack Baldwin, Robin Liddell, Andrew Davis, Jim Tafel, and defending Grand-Am Cupchampion Craig Stanton.

The 23 Porsche Rolex GT competitors will be driving Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, purpose-built race cars manufactured by the Porsche factory on the same assembly line as Porsche's complete line of sports cars for the consumer. The 2005 model for Grand-Am racing is based on the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup street car (996), while the Porsche Michelin Supercup series has moved to the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car based on the newly-introduced 997 model.

The Cup car carries over last year's improvements to driver safety and comfort as well as measures to avoid over-revving or overheating of the engine.

The six-point safety belt and racing bucket seat underwent modifications to integrate the Head and Neck Support System (HANS), which helps prevent head and neck injuries. The safety cage features an additional cross bar as well as a transversal bar behind the seat and reinforcement to the A-pillar. With this, the GT3 Cup meets the current FIA safety requirements.

Thanks to last year's new adaptor for the seat bracket, very tall drivers now enjoy enough head room. The new rear side windows of plastic with ventilation slots provide good air flow through the cockpit and help reduce weight.

Three minor modifications improve operational safety of the 2004/05 GT3 Cup:

* A shift light comes on in the cockpit warning the driver when shifting revs are reached.

* The speed-limiter ensures that the speed limit in the pit lane is not exceeded.

* The water level control light warns the driver when the coolant level is too low.

Since 2003, the six-cylinder boxer engine with 3,598 cc capacity delivers 390 hp (287 kW) at 7,300 rpm. Maximum torque remains unchanged at 390 Nm (6,500 revs), with maximum revs reached at 8,000 rpm.

A recent improvement is an intake air shrouding on the engine, which prevents hot air from around the engine or from under the vehicle reaching the combustion chambers and causing power loss.

The continuously variable adjustable height, camber and track of the suspension with Sachs gas-pressure shock absorbers adjustable in two position as well as adjustable anti-roll bars open many possibilities for setting up the car.

Through the use of carbon fiber and plastic, the weight of the 911 GT3 Cup remains at 1,160 kilos (2,552 lbs - raised to 2,600 lbs. for Grand-Am rules). All windows, with the exception of the windscreen, are plastic, with the rear lid and doors made of carbon fiber.

The 2004/05 911 GT3 Cup competes in the Porsche makes cup races as well as many other racing series. Older vehicles can - with the exception of the safety cages - be modified to 2004/05 specifications. Due to the great demand for the 911 GT3 Cup, Porsche built about 150 new units in 2004.

The 2005 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona will be televised live by The Speed Channel television network, with more than 16 hours of coverage starting at 11:30 AM Eastern time on Saturday, February 5 (check local listings for the exact times for coverage in your local area). The race starts at noon (one hour earlier than previous years) and will end at noon on Sunday, February 6. Also, the more than 110 affiliates of the Motor Racing Network (MRN) nationally will provide coverage on the radio - check local listings for time in your area.

The cars will see their first track time on Thursday, February 3, when practice opens at 10:00 AM. The first round of qualifying will take place Thursday afternoon, followed by a night practice Thursday night. Final qualifying will take place on Friday, with the race starting Saturday at noon Eastern time.

The official Porsche media web site - www.press.porsche.com - will have qualifying information for the Rolex 24 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 "24 Hours of Daytona" to find the Rolex 24 updates. The same information is posted for consumers on Porsche's main site www.porsche.com/motorsport (click on "news").

The official coverage for all the classes at the Rolex 24 and the Grand-Am series is the official Grand-Am web site (www.grandamerican.com), where fans can follow the qualifying sessions and the race with live timing and scoring on- line.

-porsche-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Carlos de Quesada , Karl Wendlinger , Jon Fogarty , Colin Braun , Robin Liddell , Guy Cosmo , Sascha Maassen , Lucas Luhr , Kevin Buckler , Will Nonnamaker , Andy Lally , Jack Baldwin , Hurley Haywood , Darren Law , David Donohue , Timo Bernhard , Patrick Long , Johannes van Overbeek , Dieter Quester , Jean-Francois Dumoulin , Michael Levitas , Hugh Plumb , Joseph Policastro Jr. , Craig Stanton , David Shep , Greg Wilkins , Brad Coleman , Marc Bunting , Robert Nearn , Seth Neiman , Mark Wilkins , Mike Rockenfeller , Brady Refenning , J.C. Fra , Wolf Henzler , Jim Tafel