Porsche teams keen to stay on course at finale
Stuttgart. The title defenders are back: With the first victory of the season under their belts, Porsche works drivers Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA) travel with optimism to the final round of the American Le Mans Series on 1 October on the time-honoured Road Atlanta circuit. At the 1,000 mile classic in the US State of Georgia, the Laguna Seca winners aim to conclude the season with another success with their Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. One of their strongest rivals comes from their own camp: Porsche factory pilot Wolf Henzler (Germany) has already notched up two victories so far this season from Mid-Ohio and Baltimore.
Petit Le Mans, which takes off during the day and finishes at night, is traditionally one of the season’s highlights. It has been a permanent fixture on the American Le Mans Series calendar since the championship’s foundation in 1999. This year, it also counts towards the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup.
It was on this challenging 4.087 kilometre race track near Braselton that the success story of the American Le Mans Series began back in 1999. With its twelve corners, Road Atlanta is one of the most venerable and challenging circuits in the United States.
The Porsche drivers
Tackling the GT class with the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR fielded by Flying Lizard Motorsports are Porsche works drivers Joerg Bergmeister (Germany), Patrick Long (USA) and Marc Lieb (Germany). Wolf Henzler, their factory pilot colleague from Falken Tire, shares driving duties with Bryan Sellers (USA) and Martin Ragginger (Austria). In the second Flying Lizard Porsche, works driver Marco Holzer (Germany) teams up with Americans Seth Neiman and Darren Law. Sascha Maassen (Germany) joins forces with Bryce Miller (USA) in Paul Miller Racing’s Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. Richard Lietz (Austria), as the sixth factory driver for Porsche, contests the GTE Am class of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup for the Proton Competition squad, with Germany’s Christian Ried and Porsche Cup winner Gianluca Roda from Italy.
Quotes before the race
Hartmut Kristen, Porsche Head of Motorsport: “With three wins from four races, our drivers have impressively demonstrated the potential of the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR against strong competition. The way Wolf Henzler won in the rain at Mid-Ohio and then Joerg Bergmeister in the dramatic closing laps at Laguna Seca – now that was some of the best action fans have witnessed in the American Le Mans Series this year. This makes them hungry for more. However, the character of the Road Atlanta course and the additional race cars contesting the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup make it difficult to judge how things will go.”
Joerg Bergmeister: “Our luck finally changed in Laguna Seca. Our first victory this season is just the right boost we need for Road Atlanta. We will do everything in our power to try and win this classic on one of America’s most beautiful race tracks. In the past it has always worked in our favour.”
Patrick Long: “Road Atlanta is a very picturesque, but extremely difficult race track. It demands a lot from drivers, and that’s what makes it one of the greatest challenges in the American Le Mans Series.”
Marc Lieb: “I can’t wait to drive in the USA again and hope that we can wind up the season with another good result at Road Atlanta. A 1,000 mile race is somewhat of a very special format – and it’s great fun.”
Wolf Henzler: “I hope we can finish well after our retirement in Laguna Seca. One of the many characteristics in Road Atlanta is the temperature differences: When we take off at midday the temperatures are predominantly warm, but when the sun goes down it becomes markedly cooler. That requires a great deal of skill and also a little bit of luck in the choice of tyres.”
Marco Holzer: “I was given the chance to gain crucial experience on many tracks that were new for me this year. Now I’m looking forward to racing on a track I’m familiar with. Road Atlanta is a fascinating venue.”
Richard Lietz: “I’m looking forward to my first race in Road Atlanta. We started the season with second place in Sebring and now we’re pinning our hopes on a good result at the second US race of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup. It won’t be easy because there are many good teams competing, but we’ll do our best.”
The Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
The most successful GT race car of the last years took off into the season with a raft of improvements. The output of the four-litre, six-cylinder boxer engine was increased to 455 hp (335 kW). Priority in the 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.
Porsche, as the most successful manufacturer at Road Atlanta, has collected nine GT victories since 1999. And Joerg Bergmeister is one of the most successful drivers: From 2003 to 2007 he set the benchmark with five victories in a row. He clinched two of these wins with Patrick Long in the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. Moreover, with the Porsche RS Spyder sports prototype, developed and built in Weissach, Porsche celebrated three straight victories in the LMP2 class from 2006 to 2009.
The 1,000 mile race in Road Atlanta starts on Saturday, 1 October, at 11.30 hrs local time (17.30 hrs CEST) and is broadcast live on www.americanlemans.com. The GT qualifying can be seen on www.porsche.com/alms-live on Friday from 20.55 hrs CEST.
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 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.
The GTE Am class is also contested in Road Atlanta as part of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup event. The difference to the GT class: Only vehicles in the 2010 specification are permitted to compete, and the regulations stipulate that just one professional driver is allowed per vehicle.
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