If you're a fan of Porsche Motorsport than Florida is the place to be (at least for the first three months or so of the year). With Daytona, Sebring, Homestead (KONI Challenge) and St. Pete all on the schedule, for Grand-Am and ALMS, you can pretty much book a room for the winter and race from venue to venue. This weekend marks Porsche's shot at returning to glory after less than stellar results in the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring. If you're not fortunate enough to see the race in person, it will be televised live on ABC starting at 1:30 pm EST.
For more information, see the full release from PCNA after the break. More importantly, don't forget to check back soon for FlatSixes.com's interviews with Wolf Henzler and Patrick Long.
ST. PETERSBURG, FL – After encouraging performances, but disappointing results at the recent Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the two Porsche 911 GT3 RSR teams, representing Porsche in this year’s American Le Mans Series GT2 class, hope to reverse their fortunes in the Acura Sports Challenge of St. Petersburg, to be held this Saturday, April 4, through the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.
The race, which takes the green flag at 1:20 PM EDT on Saturday, will be telecast live on ABC starting at 1:30 PM EDT, and will last one hour and 55 minutes – a special length for TV. The ABC broadcast will conclude at 3:30 PM after coverage of the winners circle activities. Both the #45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche and the #87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche will be equipped with ABC network in-car cameras to provide viewers with the best possible Porsche action from the race.
Live scoring and American Le Mans Radio are available at www.americanlemans.com for both qualifying on Friday, April 3, at 2:15 PM EDT, and the entire race. After a Ferrari one-two finish at Sebring, both Flying Lizard Motorsports (Sonoma, California) and Farnbacher Loles Racing (Braselton, Georgia) will be looking to restore Porsche’s place atop the GT2 class, where both teams won races last year and the Lizards won the championship.
Leading the Flying Lizards’ two car Porsche 911 GT3 RSR entry is the #45 car with Porsche works drivers Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA). The pair, along with Marc Lieb, had an early-race accident at Sebring causing them to lose 12 laps to the leaders in the first hour of the event, but managed a fourth-place finish with a strong effort for the remaining 11 hours. Last year at St. Petersburg, Bergmeister and factory driver Wolf Henzler were battling the Ferraris for the lead when an accident forced them into the pits and ended their day only four laps from the end
In 2005, Bergmeister/Long won the GT2 class championship title. With three championship titles to his credit (2005, 2006, 2008) with Porsche, Joerg Bergmeister is one of the most successful drivers in the American Le Mans Series. Besides their shared title in 2005, Patrick co-drove with Joerg in 2006 in all but one race (he drove the Penske Porsche RS Spyder at Sebring), and helped Joerg win the title, Long, the only American Porsche factory driver, drove the Penske Porsche all last year.
“After our great run in the last 11 hours of Sebring, it was clear the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR has the legs to beat the tough competition in this class, and it was inspiring to see the Lizard crew work so hard to keep the car running after all the adversity we had on the track,” said Long, who now lives near the St. Petersburg course in Bellaire, Florida.
The second Flying Lizard Porsche, driven by Seth Neiman and Darren Law (both U.S.A.), finished fifth at Sebring two weeks ago, but also could have placed higher if it were not for early-race track incidents.
Last year he won the ALMS GT2 season title with his team mate Joerg Bergmeister – this season, Porsche factory driver Wolf Henzler (Germany) shares the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Farnbacher Loles Racing with his fellow countryman Dirk Werner in the American Le Mans Series.
At Sebring, Werner put the Farnbacher Loles car on the pole, and led for much of the first hour of the event before a mechanical issue caused a lengthy pit stop, putting car at the back of the field. Werner and Henzler (along with third driver Richard Lietz) worked their way back up the standings, only to have a suspension issue near the end of the race, relegating them to an eighth-place finish.
“We showed the field we were fast by taking the pole and leading the race,” said team owner Greg Loles, “but now we have to score where it counts – in the final results. Farnbacher Loles Racing has the car, the drivers, and the team to win this championship, and we hope that St. Petersburg is the beginning of our title run.”
Two additional Porsche teams which will not be at St. Petersburg, but plan to join the 2009 ALMS chase at Long Beach on April 18 include VICI Racing, which will announce its revised 2009 plans shortly, and Team Falken Tires, which will come to Long Beach with Bryan Sellers and Dominic Cicero as drivers.
The 911 GT3 RSR, which carried German factory drivers Joerg Bergmeister and Wolf Henzler to the ALMS GT2 drivers championship as well as Porsche to the manufacturers title last season, features a redesigned front end with larger air outlets on the hood. Under the lightweight bodyshell, many other evolutionary changes were made as well; keeping the 911 GT3 RSR the fastest racing Porsche 911 that Porsche builds.
Noticeable at first sight are the air slots on the front hood – the result of the completely redesigned radiator air ducting, which became necessary with installation of the new air-conditioning unit, added to comply with the ACO 2009 regulations. The aerodynamics under the rear also underwent further fine- tuning. The rear wing now features a wider adjustment range. The weight-optimized brake system and the lighter wiring harness contribute to further improved handling for 2009.
The capacity of the legendary Porsche six-cylinder boxer engine increased from 3.8 to 4.0-litres at mid- season last year, and, after an air restrictor size reduction for 2009, the power plant now delivers approximately 450 horsepower at 7,800 RPM and develops a maximum torque of 430 Nm at 7,250 rpm, with a maximum engine speed of 9000 RPM. As a result of these changes, the engine features an optimized torque curve, producing more power at lower RPM, which offers better driveability.
In the cockpit, a new multi-function display located above the dashboard indicates the optimum moment to change gears. Another new feature is the programmable multi-function, onboard supply system, giving teams the choice of many individual functions, including infinitely adjustable blinking frequency of the front lights, which helps pit crews recognize their race cars as they enter the pits in the dark. For easier servicing under race conditions, the GT3 RSR features a new air-jack system with an over- pressure valve, and the oil refill inlet with fast filling function has now moved to the rear lid, giving mechanics better access.
The GT3 RSR, along with the GT3 Cup and GT3 Cup S, are the three Porsche 911 race cars offered by Porsche Motorsport, with the RSR version being hand built from the ground up in Weissach, Porsche’s Motorsport Headquarters. About 20 of these GT3 RSR endurance racers are completed and are now
being delivered to customer teams around the world. Porsche is the world’s largest manufacture of racing cars, with 265 built last year.