Sebring: Porsche preview

HENZLER, GROOM, LIDDEL, PENFOLD TO CONTEST SCCA WORLD CHALLENGE IN PORSCHE 911 GT3 CUP RACE CARS ATLANTA, GA - March 14 - Sports Car Club of America's SPEED World Challenge GT series will open its 11-race schedule on Friday, March 18, at Sebring...


ATLANTA, GA - March 14 - Sports Car Club of America's SPEED World Challenge GT series will open its 11-race schedule on Friday, March 18, at Sebring International Raceway, and four Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race cars will be challenging the field for the season championship.

German Porsche specialist Wolf Henzler, fresh from his victory at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona in a similar Porsche, will run the entire series in his Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche, while Jon Groom Racing will contest the championship in three cars driven by Groom, Robin Liddell, and Alex Penfold.

Farnbacher Loles Racing

Henzler, who won 11 of 12 events in the Porsche Michelin Supercup series last year enroute to the drivers championship, also in a Farnbacher Racing Porsche, came to America for two SPEED World Challenge events in 2004. At both Infineon Raceway and Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway, Henzler captured the pole and won the event, encouraging team owner Horst Farnbacher and U.S, partner Greg Loles, to push for sponsorship for a full season for Henzler.

The team's most recent success was a first place GT finish at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, where Henzler joined Dominik Farnbacher, another Supercup regular, Pierre Ehret, a veteran Porsche competitor, and Shawn Price, an off-road racer, to score a three-lap win. Henzler also provided his services as the third driver for Alex Job Racing's Porsche 911 GT3 RSR in the American Le Mans Series' Petit Le Mans last year, finishing second in GT with factory drivers Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb.

Jon Groom Racing

After securing a two year, two-car deal with the team's primary sponsor Axa Financial, Inc., Jon Groom Racing has assembled a three-car Porsche 911 GT3 Cup team, including team owner Groom, Scotsman Robin Liddell, and 19 year-old Canadian driver Alex Penfold, to drive Axa/Pfaff Porsches in World Challenge.

Liddell, 30, from Edinburgh, Scotland, returns to the team in 2005 to drive a 2005 model Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, while team principle Jon Groom will pilot the No. 65 2003 Porsche GT3 Cup car. Robin joined the team in 2004 for only two races, Road America and Road Atlanta, narrowly missing out on a win at Road Atlanta by less than a second to Max Angelleli in a factory Cadillac. He scored numerous wins in last year's American Le Mans Series in an LMP2 race car, and was part of the winning Orbit Racing Porsche that won the GT class in the 2004 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.

Alex Penfold will be one of two 19-year-olds entered in the GT field of the SPEED World Challenge, but has had much racing success already given his young age. He started kart racing in 1999 and by 2001 he was winning races, eventually earning the OKRA Championship "Senior Rookie of the Year" award, followed by 3rd overall in the Sunoco Ron Fellows OKRA Championship in 2002.

Alex ran select shifter kart races in 2003, winning the Stars of Tomorrow Windsor Grand Prix by a clear 14 second margin before graduating to the Honda Michelin Challenge Series in 2004, where he had a pole, two wins and two podiums. It was a performance that earned him the 'Rookie of the Year' title and sixth place overall in the series championship.

The Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Race Car

The car Farnbacher Loles and Jon Groom Racing will be racing is a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, a purpose-built racecar manufactured by the Porsche factory on the same assembly line as Porsche's complete line of sports cars for the consumer. The SCCA SPEED World Challenge car is based on the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup street car (996), while the Porsche Michelin Supercup series - which runs with Formula One around the world - 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 headroom. The new rear side windows of plastic with ventilation slots provide good airflow 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 peak 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.). 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.


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About this article
Series PWC
Drivers Ron Fellows , Robin Liddell , Pierre Ehret , Marc Lieb , Romain Dumas , Jon Groom , Wolf Henzler , Dominik Farnbacher , Alex Penfold , Alex Job
Teams Alex Job Racing