Porsche works drivers look forward to next highlight of the season
Stuttgart. The race on the street circuit in Long Beach marks another highlight on the American Le Mans Series calendar. Porsche works drivers Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA) tackle the prestigious Californian city race on 16 April with the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR fielded by Flying Lizard Motorsports. Last year, the pair won the GT class for the second time straight. Wolf Henzler (Germany) competes for the Falken Tire squad as the third Porsche factory driver.
The race on waterfront of Long Beach is one of the most venerable city races in the world. With Hollywood just around the corner, the event often attracts stars and starlets. It is the shortest race of the American Le Mans Series with the flag dropping after just 120 minutes. This is one reason why a good grid position is crucial on this track confined within walls and fences. Running alongside the American Le Mans Series this weekend is another very popular US series, IndyCar.
The 3.167 kilometre street circuit set in the postcard-perfect backdrop of sun, sea and palms is often called the “Monaco of the USA”. Construction of the track takes around 60 days. During this time, 1,400 concrete blocks each weighing ca. four tonnes are laid, as well as five kilometres of fencing. At particularly critical places, 16,000 car tyres serve as a buffer in front of the walls.
The Porsche drivers
Last year’s victors, Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long, are back to contest the GT class in Flying Lizard Motorsports’ Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. Their factory pilot colleague Wolf Henzler shares driving duties in the Falken Tire 911 GT3 RSR with Bryan Sellers (USA). Darren Law and Seth Neiman join forces in the second 911 GT3 RSR fielded by Flying Lizard Motorsports. The Paul Miller Racing team also run a 911 GT3 RSR with Bryce Miller (USA) as one of their drivers. In the GTC class, double Supercup champion Jeroen Bleekemolen (Netherlands) teams up with Tim Pappas (USA) to compete for Black Swan Racing at the wheel of a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
Comments leading up to the race
Hartmut Kristen, Porsche Head of Motorsport: “Long Beach particularly suits Patrick Long. He has proven this many times in the past. As we saw at the season-opener in Sebring, the competition in the GT class is even stronger this season. We’ve taken a very close look at the data from the race and have drawn our conclusions. Even IMSA, as the governing body of the American Le Mans Series, has realised that a regulations had led to an imbalance between vehicles. So I think spectators will witness an extremely exciting race in Long Beach.”
Joerg Bergmeister: “A street circuit like Long Beach has its very own set of rules. You have no time for a breather, you’re constantly steering, shifting gears, braking. There are no long straights to relax. You’re driving non-stop at the limit. In principle, Long Beach has always suited out car in the past. We enjoyed a certain grip advantage in the corners. But we’ll just have to wait and see what this year brings.”
Patrick Long: “One of the secrets to success in Long Beach is grabbing a decent position on the grid. It’s extremely hard to overtake on this narrow circuit. In fact, there is just one place where it works, but even then you need luck. It’s also very important not to lose too much time during the regular pit stops. In the pits, such races are won... and lost. All in all, Long Beach is a highly fascinating event.”
Wolf Henzler: “I really enjoy street races. Last year in Long Beach we were leading but lost the race in the pits. Basically, you have to drive with extreme precision. There is no room for the slightest error and there are no run-off areas. If you don’t watch out you’ll end up in the wall. I like city circuits for practical reasons: The hotels are right next to the track and when you want to go out for dinner there are real restaurants and not just fast food places.”
The Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
The most successful GT race car of the last years takes off into the season with a raft of improvements. The output of the four-litre, six-cylinder boxer engine has increased to 455 hp (335 kW). Priority in the further development of the car was given to the newly designed aerodynamics at the front and rear. In 2010, the 911 GT3 RSR again won the environmental "Michelin Green X Challenge” classification as the GT vehicle with the best overall efficiency in the American Le Mans Series.
With the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long celebrated class victories in 2009 and 2010 at Long Beach. Last year, they won the environmental “Michelin Green X Challenge” as the most efficient GT vehicle of the race. Porsche’s greatest success on the Californian street circuit was in 2007 with RS Spyder sports prototypes claiming a triple victory.
The race in Long Beach takes off on Saturday, 16 April, at 16.30 hours local time (01.30 hrs Sunday CEST). The GT qualifying on Friday will be broadcast on the internet from 02.05 hours CEST on www.porsche.com/alms-live.
This is the American Le Mans Series
The American Le Mans Series (ALMS) was created in 1999 for sports prototypes and GT vehicles. The regulations correspond to those of the Le Mans 24 hour race. All classes start together but are classified separately:
GT class: This most popular class amongst car manufacturers is traditionally extremely well supported: Slightly modified standard sports cars with 440 to 500 hp and a minimum weight of 1,125 – 1,325 kilograms (e.g. Porsche 911 GT3 RSR).
GTC class: This class is reserved for vehicles from one-make race series (e.g. Porsche 911 GT3 Cup).
LMP1 class: Sports prototypes with up to 750 hp and a minimum weight of 900 kilograms (petrol engines) or 930 kilograms (diesel engines).
LMP2 class: Sports prototypes with ca. 440 hp and an 825 kg minimum weight.
LMPC class: Prototype brand trophy series for the ORECA FLM 09.
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