Wednesday, August 23, 2017

A Gripping Finale set for the Petit Le Mans 1,000 mile classic

September 24, 2010 by  
Filed under Motorsport News

Stuttgart/Atlanta  -  September  24, 2010 –  A  gripping  finale  in  the  American  Le  Mans  Series event  at  Road  Atlanta  combines  the  drama  of  Porsche  customers  battling  for  three  of  the four class championships, and a special treat – the first race in the USA for the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid racing laboratory.

The race will be telecast in its entirety by SPEED TV on Saturday, October 2, starting at 11:00 AM Eastern Time (the green flag drops at 11:15 AM EDT and will conclude when the competitors finish 1,000 miles – approx. 9:30 PM based on past events) – or ten hours, whichever comes first).  Live radio coverage starting at 10:00 AM will also be available www.americanlemans.com as well as Sirius Channel 127 and XM Channel 242.  The ALMS web site link above also has live timing and scoring, plus press notes for all on-track sessions.

The challenging 2.54-mile, 12-turn course, where the success story of Petit Le Mans began in 1998, is an ideal stage for the selection of the champion. In the ultra-competitive class for GT sports  cars,  Porsche  factory  drivers  Joerg  Bergmeister  (Germany)  and  Patrick  Long  (USA) have  the  best  chance  to successfully defend their title from last year at the wheel of their Flying  Lizard  Motorsports  Porsche  911  GT3  RSR.  Facing  strong  opposition  from  BMW, Ferrari  and  Corvette,  they  have  so  far  taken  home  hard-fought  victories  from  Long  Beach, Laguna  Seca,  Lime  Rock  and  Mosport  and  tackle  the  finale  with  a  comfortable  22-point buffer. The situation in the manufacturer and team championships, however, looks much less certain; in each classification, Porsche ranks first by just one point.

“The title is virtually within our grasp, although, with 30 points for the winner, anything could happen. Still, we’ll be doing everything to bring home as many points as possible and to also secure the manufacturer title for Porsche and team title for Flying Lizard Motorsports,” said Joerg  Bergmeister.  ”The  track  is  very  picturesque,  but  very  challenging.  It  put  a  lot  of demands on a driver.”

With a string of five victories at Petit Le Mans between 2003 and 2007, Joerg has raised the bar for performance at Road Atlanta. Bergmeister and Patrick Long will receive support in the form of a third driver in their race car from Porsche factory pilot Marc Lieb (Germany), the newly-crowned winner of the Le Mans Series (GT class). After the Sebring 12 Hour event, the Petit Le Mans race is the second longest in the American Le Mans Series with a maximum duration of ten hours. Joerg Bergmeister regards this as advantageous: “With  the  many  pit  stops,  strategy  and  teamwork  play  a  major  role.  And  our  Flying  Lizard Motorsports boys have proven often enough that they are the best at this,” said Bergmeister.

Long will enter a very busy stretch of races start next week at Road Atlanta, though Petit Le Mans remains his top priority.  With Bergmeister, he will be racing the innovative 911 GT3 R Hybrid in Zhuhai, China (November 7), and, right after Petit, he heads to Australia to compete in that country’s V8 Supercars Gold Coast 600 race.  He then jets to Germany for the VLN race at the Nurburgring.

“Despite our points lead, we will be racing hard, nor conservatively, at Road Atlanta.  With Atlanta being the home of Porsche Cars North America, we always have a lot of friends and family at the track, so we are motivated to put on a great show for them.  It has been such an intense championship this year, and while it’s great to have the points lead going in to the final  race,  the  Corvettes,  BMWs,  Ferraris  -  plus  the  new  Ford  and  Panoz  entries  -  will  be going all out,” said Long.

Aside from the riveting GT title fight, a highlight of the season finale on the classic circuit is the  Porsche  911  GT3  R  Hybrid.  The  sports  car  with  its  ground-breaking  drive  technology, which was on course to win the Nürburgring 24 hour race until shortly before the checkered flag, celebrates its much-anticipated race premiere in the USA. It races in the special-created GTH  class  (no  series  points  or  overall  standing  will  be  recorded  for  the  car)  -  with  a prominent driver line-up.

Porsche  works  drivers  Timo  Bernhard  (Germany)  and  Romain  Dumas  (France)  with  Audi factory  pilot  Mike  Rockenfeller  (Germany)  are  eager  to  demonstrate  the  reliability  and performance of the 911 GT3 R Hybrid to the US fans and to assist in perfecting its innovative technology. Earlier this year, the trio clinched overall victory at the Le Mans 24 Hours in an Audi prototype.

  

As  a  driver  pairing,  Bernhard  and  Dumas  have  already  notched  up  many  historic  victories, including the ALMS title in the LMP2 prototype class in 2007 and 2008, the overall win at the 2008 Sebring 12 Hours, as well as three overall victories at the Nürburgring 24 hour race from 2007 to 2009. In January, Rockenfeller claimed victory in a Porsche-powered Daytona Prototype  at  the  24  Hours  at  Daytona  race,  as  well  as  GT  win  at  Le  Mans  in  2005  in  a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.

The  Porsche  911  GT3  R  Hybrid,  which  demonstrated  the  potential  of  its  groundbreaking technology over 22 hours and 15 minutes at this year’s Nürburgring 24 hour race and led the overall  classification  for  more  than  eight  hours,  exemplifies  the  philosophy  of  ”Porsche Intelligent Performance”. Under braking, the 911 GT3 R Hybrid converts kinetic energy into electrical energy and stores it in a flywheel. During acceleration, this energy is automatically delivered to the front wheels, supporting the combustion engine. This leads to a reduction in fuel consumption and increases the cruising range. Moreover, drivers can manually utilize the stored energy with a boost-paddle on the steering wheel for overtaking.

While the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid running for a championship, another ALMS title will be decided in the Le Mans prototype class. Here as well, Porsche has good chances for victory with  the  RS  Spyder.  The  American-based  Muscle  Milk  Team  Cytosport,  which  fields  the successful  Porsche  Prototype  from  Weissach,  has  already  celebrated  a  class  victory  this year at the prestigious 12 Hours of Sebring and underlined its potential with two overall wins at Lime Rock and Mosport. Sharing driving duties in the #6 cockpit for the season finale is an all-German line-up of Klaus Graf, Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr. Audi works pilot, Luhr, is no stranger to his teammates and the RS Spyder. In 2006, as Porsche works driver, he was crowned champion in the American Le Mans Series – with Sascha Maassen.

In the second Porsche 911 GT3 RSR run by Flying Lizard Motorsports, Porsche-Junior Marco Holzer (Germany) makes his debut in the American Le Mans Series. He starts in the GT class with Americans Darren Law and Seth Neiman.

Contesting  the  series  for  the  first  time  this  season,  former  Porsche-Junior  driver  Martin Ragginger  (Austria)  will  join  the  Falken  Tire  Porsche  squad,  winners  of  the  environmental Michelin  Green  X  Challenge  award  at  the  Elkhart  Lake  race,  with  team  pilot  Bryan  Sellers (USA).  Porsche  works  driver  Wolf  Henzler  (Germany),  Sellers  regular  co-driver,  will  not  be competing for the rest of the 2010 motorsport season. He underwent surgery to his back and will be in recovery over the next several weeks in order to guarantee he is ready to race without any restrictions in the 2011 season.

Poised  to  snatch  the  GTC  class  title  -  for  matched  Porsche  911  GT3  Cup  race  cars  -  is points’  leader  Jeroen  Bleekemolen  (Netherlands)  with  the  Black  Swan  Racing  Porsche. Teaming  up  with  American  Timothy  Pappas,  the  two-time Porsche Supercup champion has notched  up  four  victories  so  far this season. Joining forces as the third driver for Petit Le Mans  is  his  brother,  Sebastiaan.  Americans  Shane  Lewis  and  Bill  Sweedler  have  outside shots at the championship if the Black Swan car stumbles.

Source: Porsche Press Release

Photos Courtesy PCNA