Porsche 911 GT3 Cup and Porsche 911 GT3 RSR race cars – more than three dozen of them – will be competing in the upcoming 61st running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 16 at Sebring International Raceway, and at least half of the teams brought cars and drivers to the track this week to the American Le Mans Series/IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama Winter test.
With the 50th anniversary of the Porsche 911 celebration officially kicking off its year-long celebration today, Jens Walther, president of Porsche Motorsport North America, Inc., was especially pleased to see the high level of preparation for the latest crop of 911 race cars for the 2013 season.
“It is very exciting to see all the new Porsche teams and race cars joining our long-time customers to form a great ALMS/IMSA competition team for ALMS GT and GTC as well as IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama,” said Walther. “New drivers and teams bring an infusion of new energy, new sponsors and greater interest for the spectators over the whole spectrum of our 911 race cars,” he said.
Some of the highlights during the week-long test, which concludes tomorrow:
- The IMSA GT3 Cup competitors had six sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday, for many of the drivers, it’s the most track time they have ever had for a two-day period. Ashley Freiberg, from Bondville, Vermont, a top competitor last year the Star Mazda series, spent her last two days running in the top three in her Effort Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. The 21 year-old has won two Skip Barber championships to this point in her career.
- CORE Autosport, which is also entering a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR in the ALMS GTE class, is fielding a new 911 GT3 Cup for team owner Jon Bennett, who made his Porsche debut on Tuesday. The GTE car plans to start its season sometime this spring.
- 18 year-old Colin Thompson, from Doylestown, Penn., whose father owns Porsche of Bucks County (the dealership they bought recently from the family of the late Bob Holbert) of Warrington, Penn., has also been running well this week in his Bucks County Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, turning times consistently in the top five.
--David Ducote, of Houston, TX, topped the charts several times over the last two days in his Kelly-Moss prepared Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
- Ramez Wahab, owner of Miami-based NGT Motorsports, will enter no less than seven Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars in the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama event at Sebring, plus two cars in the ALMS GTC class for the race. The NGT Motorsports Grand-Am Porsche 911 GT3 Cup ran a very strong race last weekend at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
- Starting today, Thursday, the ALMS series cars were on the track, with two Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs and four Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars carrying the banner. In the first session this morning under sunny skies and 70-degree F temperatures, the cars had a 3-1/2 hour session interrupted only briefly by track incidents. In GT, there were three Ferraris, two Vipers, and two Porsches – the Team Falken Tire and the Paul Miller Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs.
- Bryan Sellers in the Falken car was the fastest Porsche in the first session. His 12 Hours of Sebring co-drivers, Wolf Henzler and Nick Tandy, like all the Porsche factory drivers, did not make the test this week as they are at the annual fitness camp. Bryce Miller, driving the Paul Miller Porsche he will share with factory driver Marco Holzer, was two seconds back. Paul Miller has switched to Michelin for the first time this year.
- In GTC, the Alex Job Racing WeatherTech Porsche 911 GT3 Cup of Cooper MacNeil and Jeroen Bleekemolen was fastest in class, followed by the JDX Hertz Porsche of Mike Hedlund and Jan Heylen and the TRG Porsche of Ben Keating and Daimien Faulkner. The Flying Lizard Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, which did not have any recorded times in the morning, jumped to the top of chart in the afternoon with Archie Hamilton and Nelson Canache driving the car for the first time with the help of veteran Spencer Pumpelly.
- Missing from the test this week were the two Dempsey Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, which are just arriving at the shop near Road Atlanta
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