PORSCHE TEAMS LEAD GT CLASS; NEAR THE TOP IN DP FOR MID-OHIO ROLEX GRAND-AM ATLANTA - June 17 --At the halfway point of the Rolex Grand-Am season, Porsche teams are in the thick of the championship battles, as Porsche leads the Acxiom GT class...
PORSCHE TEAMS LEAD GT CLASS; NEAR THE TOP IN DP FOR MID-OHIO ROLEX GRAND-AM
ATLANTA - June 17 --At the halfway point of the Rolex Grand-Am season, Porsche teams are in the thick of the championship battles, as Porsche leads the Acxiom GT class of the Rolex Grand-Am Sports Car series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 competition. And, despite only one victory in the Daytona Prototype class, both Porsche teams are still battling for the season title.
Heading into the EMCO Gears Classic June 19-20 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, Porsche GT drivers occupy the top three and eight of the top 13 spots in the Driver's Championship standings. Porsche also leads the GT Manufacturer's standings and Porsche customer teams are first and second, and have five of the top 10 ranked teams.
The race will be broadcast live on Speed TV from 5-8 pm EDT on Saturday, June 20. Live timing and scoring, notes and results will be available on www.grand-am.com, with regular weekend updates also posted on www.twitter.com/RolexSeries.
Based on best results from the two Porsche customer teams - Farnbacher Loles and TRG - Porsche leads the GT Manufacturer's standings with three victories in the first five races and 153 points, 10 ahead of Pontiac (1 victory) and 14 points ahead of Mazda (1 victory).
In Daytona Prototype competition, Porsche drivers rank fourth, fifth and seventh in the Driver's Championship, Porsche is second in the Manufacturer's standings and Porsche teams are fourth, fifth and seventh.
An impressive performance during the Sahlen's Six Hours at Watkins Glen propelled Dirk Werner (Germany) and Leh Keen (Charleston, SC) to the top of the Acxiom GT standings with 151 points and an eight-point lead over former leader Spencer Pumpelly (Suwanee, GA).
Werner broke the track qualifying record in earning his first GT pole, and then led 73 laps in the #87 Farnbacher Loles Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. Keen led for 30 laps as the team
claimed its second GT victory of the season. The victory also moved the #87 Farnbacher Loles Porsche into the Team Championship standings with 151 points, also eight points ahead of Pumpelly's #66 TRG Porsche 911 GT3. Pumpelly was fifth at Watkins Glen.
"Obviously right now, our goal is to defend the championship lead," Werner says. "So we are not doing everything we can to win this race and we're not taking any chances or anything like that. We just want to get as many points as we can at Mid-Ohio. The team's spirit, and the way the team works, should make it easy for us to have a good race.
"Our advantage is that we can react now a little bit to the actions of our competitors. Now they have to make up some points, and we can play it pretty conservatively, so I think that's kind of an advantage. Also, psychologically, we have an advantage because we are coming out of three strong races. With two wins, that gives us a boost. Everyone on the team is highly motivated to get another championship after 2007. It's a long season; we still have seven races to go, and a lot can still happen. So right now, we're in good shape. For us, it should be possible to get a lot of points every race, and at the end, it's the little things that make the difference. I think we have worked well so far, and that's what makes me optimistic," says Werner.
Keen is the defending GT champion at Mid-Ohio, posting his only victory of 2008 when he finished eighth in the Driver's championship.
"I think Leh (Keen) likes the track a lot because he won there last year, and I like the track too," Werner says. "It's a fun track to drive."
In the second Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche, Eric Lux (Jacksonville, FL) is close behind in the points chase, only eight points out of second place in the GT Class standings. His regular co-driver, Wolf Henzler, is back in Germany tending to a family obligation, so Lux will have a new co-driver for this weekend - Dominik Farnbacher. Eric and Dominik last drove together in the season opener at Daytona, where they finished fifth. "
"I have had a stellar season thus far with Farnbacher Loles and I hope we can maintain the momentum we have right now through the next races. Last year I won at Mid-Ohio, so I am looking forward to trying to land back-to-back wins at the circuit. Dominik and I haven't been co-drivers since the Rolex 24. We have similar driving styles, which makes the set-up of the car easy to agree upon and also pushes the other to go faster every time out. The #86 will have a very good shot at a third podium for the season at Mid-Ohio," said Lux.
Porsche Daytona Prototype teams have only won one race, the Rolex 24 at Daytona captured by the #58 Brumos Porsche Riley with lead drivers David Donohue (Malvern, PA) and Darren Law (Phoenix, AZ). But they have fallen to fifth in the Driver's standings and now rank below Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France), who have registered two third-place finishes in the #12 Verizon Wireless Penske Porsche Riley.
"The race is very demanding and diverse, with both very fast passages and many tight corners. It's a real challenge," says an enthusiastic Timo Bernhard about the 2.258-mile,
13-turn roller coaster circuit. In the American Le Mans Series, the track has proven to be a good home for Porsche: From 2006 to 2008, Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas claimed three victories with the RS Spyder, not to mention the fastest qualifying times and fastest race laps.
With their Porsche Riley, they are still awaiting their first win of the season, but after their podium two weeks ago in Watkins Glen, they go to Mid-Ohio full of optimism. Romain Dumas sees the fact that it is not just courage that is important here, but driving technique can give a competitor a big advantage.
"On this track our drivers can perhaps compensate for what the regulations have taken away from us. In ALMS, we beat the Audis here twice despite a 200 hp handicap. And we've always done well here," Dumas pointed out.
JC France (Ormond Beach, FL) and Joao Barbosa (Portugal) rank seventh in the Driver's standings with a best finish of third in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the #59 Brumos Porsche Riley.
-credit: porsche motorsport