I don't want to jinx things, but I feel comfortable in my prediction that Porsche will take the checkered flag in some way, shape or form this coming Saturday during the second Grand-Am race of the season at VIR. Where does this confidence come from? Simple, Porsche's not so secret recipe for success (lots of cars, the best drivers in the world and amazing support teams). In other words, take three Porsche Riley's, mix in current and past Daytona champions, combine with at least seven Porsche GTs, sprinkle in world class support from teams like TRG and Farnbacher Loles and you have a recipe that pretty much guarantees podium placement for Porsche come race day. Full details are below.
After the triumph at the famous 24 Hours at Daytona, the season-opening round of the 2009 Grand-Am Series, Porsche now wants to continue this success streak on the Virginia International Raceway. Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France) have big plans for the second race of the season: After their bad luck in Daytona, the Porsche works drivers want to keep their title chances open with a top placing.
“For us the season really takes off now. It’s just a shame that we’ve been handicapped again by the regulations,” says Timo Bernhard. After a change to the technical regulations, the Porsche-Riley must from now on race with five gears and a lower rev limit. “That, of course, makes everything more difficult. The gearing is no longer optimal and, of course, we also notice the power loss. Now we have to see how we and the team can best cope with this.”
The 5.26 kilometre race track in the US state of Virginia is extremely demanding, which suits not only Timo Bernhard. Romain Dumas also hopes he can compensate, at least a little, for the disadvantages resulting from the rule changes. “It’s a drivers’ track that’s difficult but huge fun,” he says. “Timo and I feel particularly good on such circuits.”
Porsche Powered Rileys and Porsche GT3s to dominate the field at VIR
Aside from Penske Racing, who fields the #12 Porsche-Riley, Brumos Racing again brings two Daytona-Prototypes with the 510 hp Porsche six-cylinder engine to the start. Driving for the customer team from Florida in the number 58 vehicle are David Donohue (USA) with his compatriot Darren Law – the overall winner of the 2009 Daytona 24 hour race and current points’ leader in the championship - as well as Joao Barbosa (Portugal) and J.C. France (USA) with the number 59 racer.
Porsche also enjoys strong representation in the GT class. Four Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Grand-Am sports cars are deployed by the TRG team from the USA, for whom the Porsche works drivers Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA) competed in and won the 24 Hours at Daytona (GT) in January as guest drivers. Farnbacher Loles Racing fields two of the 428 hp near-standard sports cars from Weissach. One of the pilots is Dirk Werner (Germany), who contests both the American Le Mans Series and the Grand-Am Series for the team. The Synergy Racing squad runs one 911 GT3 Cup Grand-Am.
The race in Alton takes off on Saturday, 25th April, at 14.30 hours local time (20.30 hours CEST) and runs over 250 miles.
Facts and Figures of the Grand American Sports Car Series
In the year 2000, the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series replaced the United States Road Racing Championships. For the 2009 season, twelve races are contested in the USA and Canada. A traditional highlight of the season is the 24 Hours of Daytona. Most races run over a distance of 250 miles. The grid is made up of two different vehicle categories: Daytona Prototypes and GT vehicles. With one exception, both categories race together but are separately classified.
Daytona Prototypes (DP)
Special manufacturers, like Riley, supply the vehicle chassis. To ensure equal chances for all, large manufacturers are not permitted to enter their own team, but may supply engines. Two Porsche teams, Penske Racing and Brumos Racing, compete with the Porsche 3.99-litre six-cylinder fitted in a Riley chassis. In the Daytona Prototype specification, the engine delivers ca. 510 hp. Minimum weight of the vehicle is 1,021 kilograms.
Grand Touring (GT)
The GT class is similar to the FIA GT3 class, where the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup is one of the most successful contenders. Equality of chances is attained through tyre size, rev limitations and weight. The minimum weight is between 1,043 and 1,270 kilograms.
A balanced starter field ensures thrilling racing. Porsche has won the GT championship seven times in nine years, most recently in 2007 with Dirk Werner at the wheel of a Farnbacher Loles Racing 911 GT3 Cup, and with this is one of the most successful manufacturers in the Grand-Am Series. Porsche works driver Joerg Bergmeister claimed the Prototype class title in 2006.