Sunday 18 September 2011

American Le Mans Series, round 8 in Laguna Seca, USA Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid – efficiency yields success

American Le Mans Series, round 8 in Laguna Seca, USA

Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid – efficiency yields success

Stuttgart. It beat them all – on the track and at the gas pump. At its first outing on the West Coast of the USA, the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid beat all other GT vehicles in Laguna Seca. With Porsche works drivers Romain Dumas (France) and Richard Lietz (Austria) at the wheel, it turned the fastest race lap on the challenging course in Monterey/California and conquered the six hour distance with just three pit stops, while its fastest opponents in the GT class had to stop five times: An impressive demonstration of Porsche Intelligent Performance.

Porsche’s strong performance at the riveting eighth round of the American Le Mans Series was rounded off by Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA): With the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, the title defenders won the GT class in a photo finish final and secured their first win of the season featuring the world’s fastest sports cars. For Porsche, this marked victory number three after Mid-Ohio and Baltimore.

Interest from the fans for the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid was enormous in California, as well. And the way the innovative sports car from Weissach - which started from the rear of the grid and was not eligible for points - chased through the field in just a few laps to snatch the lead caused a sensation in the grandstands. The Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid convinced with its consistently fast lap times and low fuel consumption and finished ahead of all other GT vehicles thanks to its ground-breaking drive concept.

“The start phase was huge fun, because it was relatively easy to overtake the slower competitors,” said Romain Dumas. “But it’s even more fun because we can apply superior tactics thanks to the lower fuel consumption. We are much more flexible and we made the most of this today.” Richard Lietz stated: “We had the least pit stops of all the teams and showed clearly what the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid can do. We didn’t experience one technical problem and left all the other GT vehicles behind us. Our expectations have been far exceeded.”

Thrills and spills also characterised the fight for victory in the fiercely-contested GT class as always. Spectacular tussles for positions on the track and in the pits as well as frequent changes at the lead were played out over the entire race – and in the last two hours, long after darkness had fallen on the Laguna Seca Raceway, events began to heat up: In the penultimate lap, Joerg Bergmeister squeezed past a BMW into second place with his Porsche 911 GT3 RSR fielded by Flying Lizard Motorsports. But the most successful GT pilot in the American Le Mans Series wasn’t yet finished. He wanted victory – and in the final lap he pushed fast the leading Ferrari.

“That was our first win this season. We did it at last and it was high time for that,” said Joerg Bergmeister. “We didn’t have the fastest car in the field today, but we fought to the flag. That paid off. To go from third to first in the last laps – you don’t experience this every day in such a strongly-supported series.” Patrick Long added: “Joerg won the race today. Our tactic was to keep out of any squabbles as much as possible and to have the car in one piece at the end to fight for victory. This worked, but the driving style of several competitors was clearly too tough today. It almost cost us the race.”

In the second Porsche 911 GT3 RSR fielded by Flying Lizard Motorsports, Porsche factory pilot Marco Holzer (Germany) joined forces with American Seth Neiman to bring home ninth place. “The track was new for me and has to be one of the most beautiful in the USA. The race was a fantastic experience,” he said. “I’m pleased that we finished well. It was great fun.” Sascha Maassen (Germany) and Bryce Miller (USA) saw the flag in tenth with Paul Miller Racing’s Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.

After wins from Mid-Ohio and Baltimore, luck evaded Wolf Henzler in Laguna Seca. The Porsche works driver from Germany had taken over the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR from his teammate Bryan Sellers (USA) and was lying within striking distance of the top when a rival hit his rear shortly before the halfway point of the race. The impact damaged the water pump and put a stop to Falken Tire’s recent run of successes. “Such a retirement is of course hugely disappointing, especially after our wins of the last weeks,” Wolf Henzler said. “Now we have to roll up our sleeves and try to turn the best season for our team so far into a happy ending at Road Atlanta.”

The ninth and final round of the American Le Mans Series takes place on 1 October on the Road Atlanta race track at Braselton, in the US State of Georgia.

At the same time as the penultimate race of the American Le Mans Series, Porsche teams were also fighting for championship honours in the equally as popular Grand-Am Series which held its final race on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington/Ohio. With the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup run by the successful customer team Brumos Racing, which is based on the lightweight 911 GT3 RS sports car, Americans Leh Keen and Andrew Davis secured the title with fourth place. The highlight of the exciting season was the Daytona 24 hour race in Florida, where Porsche kicked off the season with a double victory for the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.

Statistics: 8th race in Laguna Seca, California

Result GT class
1. Bergmeister/Long (D/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 236 laps
2. Müller/Hand (D/USA), BMW M3 GT, 236
3. Melo/Vilander (BRA/SF), Ferrari F458 Italia, 236
4. Sharp/van Overbeek (USA/USA), Ferrari F458 Italia, 236
5. Werner/Auberlen (D/USA), BMW M3 GT, 236
6. Magnussen/Gavin (DK/GB), Chevrolet Corvette, 236
9. Holzer/Neiman (D/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 230
10. Maassen/Miller (D/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 224

Result GTC class
1. Pumpelly/Ende (USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 222 laps
2. J. Bleekemolen/Pappas/S. Bleekemolen (NL/USA/NL), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 222
3. Le Saffre/Faulkner (USA/IRL), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 221

Points’ standings GT class
1. Dirk Müller, Joey Hand, BMW, 145 points
2. Oliver Gavin, Jan Magnussen, Chevrolet, 110
3. Dirk Werner, Bill Auberlen, BMW, 101
4. Jaime Melo, Toni Vilander, Ferrari, 90
5. Wolf Henzler, Bryan Sellers, Porsche, 77
6. Jörg Bergmeister, Patrick Long, Porsche, 76

1. BMW, 145 points
2. Porsche, 132
3. Chevrolet, 114
4. Ferrari, 109

1. BMW Team RLL, BMW, 145 points
2. Corvette Racing, Chevrolet, 114
3. Risi Competizione, 90
4. Team Falken Tire, Porsche, 77
5. Flying Lizard Motorsports, Porsche, 75

Facts and figures

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.

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 550 hp and a minimum weight of 900 kilograms.
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.

All race cars start together but are classified separately according to their respective classes. This ensures exciting and diverse racing with many overtaking manoeuvres. Points are only awarded for placings in each class.

Public Relations and Media
Oliver Hilger

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