A lot can happen in a month’s time. If you’re not able to keep up with each Porsche Motorsport post here on FlatSixes.com and would prefer a brief synopsis of what’s happening in the world of Porsche Motorsport, there is no better way to stay in touch than by reviewing the monthly Porsche Motorsport Newsletter. Filled with interesting facts and figures about past and upcoming races, along with changes to team and crew, the Porsche Motorsport Newsletter is an easy way to keep up-to-date on this year’s racing activities.
American Le Mans Series, USA: Season opens with marathon and sprint
Test of strength to start the season: On March 21st at 10.30am local time, the American Le Mans Series takes off into the racing season with the 57th edition of the 12 Hours of Sebring. The 5.9 kilometer circuit in Florida is known for the extreme demands it places on man and machine. Five works drivers support two customer teams in the GT2 class for near-standard race cars. Joerg Bergmeister (Germany), his compatriot Marc Lieb and the American Patrick Long pilot a ca. 450 hp Porsche 911 GT3 RSR fielded by Flying Lizard Motorsports. Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Richard Lietz (Austria) team up with Germany’s Dirk Werner to drive the GT3 RSR of Farnbacher Loles. With a total of five 911 GT3 RSR, Porsche customers represent the strongest contingent in the class amongst the 15 starters.
The 12 hour classic has opened the ALMS season since 1999. In the decade to 2008, Porsche customers have claimed eight class victories with various versions of the GT3 R, the most recent of which went to Joerg Bergmeister and Wolf Henzler with their colleague Marc Lieb at the wheel of a Flying Lizard GT3 RSR.
Two weeks after the marathon on the airfield circuit, the second round in St. Peters-burg (4th April) provides competitors with a totally different challenge. The race on the short and twisty 2.8 kilometer track lasts only one hour and 55 minutes through the streets of St. Petersburg on the west coast of Florida.
Le Mans Series: Test festival in Paul Ricard, Porsche teams yield top times
In front of sold-out grandstands, the Le Mans Series test days on the Circuit Paul Ricard in southern France on 8-9 March turned into real thriller. Works driver Emmanuel Collard (France) and Denmark’s Casper Elgaard convincingly topped the time sheets in the class two for Le Mans Prototypes on day one with the Porsche RS Spyder of the Danish Essex team. Their strong performance was halted on the morning of the second day when Elgaard slid into the barriers. Still, Essex was satisfied: Second in the time sheets for Class Two Prototypes.
Satisfaction, as well, amongst the Porsche teams contesting the LM GT2 class for slightly modified sports cars. Works driver Marc Lieb (Germany) set the second quickest time in the Felbermayr Proton team’s 911 GT3 RSR – with a mere tenth of a second gap. The French factory pilot Patrick Pilet secured the third fastest time for his IMSA Performance Matmut squad.
The first of five 1,000 kilometer races of the LMS takes off on 5th April on the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona. The 4.6 kilometer circuit, with its five left and eight right hand corners, is regarded as highly demanding on aerodynamics and suspension. Here in 2008, Lieb narrowly missed out on victory when he was shunted off the track and finished second. Works driver Richard Lietz (Austria) brought home third place with his team mate Raymond Narac (France).
Campionato Italiano GT: Porsche represented in all classes
On 29th March in Vallelunga, the Campionato Italiano GT launches into the new season. Porsche customers are represented in all classes. In the top GT2 category, Francisco Cruz-Martin makes another attempt to snatch the title at the wheel of his Autorlando Sport 911 GT3 RSR. The Portuguese shares the cockpit with works driver Wolf Henzler (Germany). In 2008 he narrowly missed out on clinching the championship with works pilot Richard Lietz. Manning the second GT3 RSR fielded by Autorlando Sport are Italians Saverio Castellaneta and Luca Formilli Fendi.
Several teams are expected to contest the GT3 Championship with the 911 GT3 Cup S. In the Trofeo Nazionale CSAI GT Cup, Porsche customers are represented with their GT3 Cup racers.
Japanese Super GT Series: Taisan fastest of the Porsche teams
On March 22nd the Japanese Super GT Championship heads into the new season with a 300 kilometer race on the Okayama circuit. Of the 23 starters, five Porsche race cars line up to contest the GT300 class. At the official test day during the second weekend in March – also held in Okayama – the 911 GT3 RS of the UP Start Taisan team with Haruki Kurosawa and Tsubasa Abe posted the fastest time amongst Porsche. Kurosawa/Abe were only 0.8 seconds shy of the quickest time.
SCCA Pro Racing Speed GT, USA: Inaugural GT3 Cup shootout
The American “Speed GT”, one of the most popular championships for near-standard race cars, roars into the 2009 season with a 50-minute sprint as part of the 12 Hours of Sebring weekend. Strong representation again from Porsche teams who won the drivers’ and the manufacturers’ classifications here in 2007 and 2008 for Porsche. Held for the first time in 2009 is the “GT3 Cup Shootout”, a new classification specifically for the 911 GT3 Cup. The top five results out of ten races in 2009 are counted.
Race notes: Grand Touring and Prototype racing
On the Twin Ring Motegi circuit on 28-29 March, the first round of the Japanese Super Taikyu Championship takes place.
On April 4th on the Nürburgring-Norschleife, the first of ten rounds of the BF Goodrich Long Distance Championship is run. The 56th ADAC Westfalenfahrt is contested over four hours. Many Porsche teams compete with the Porsche models GT3 RSR, GT3 Cup S and GT3 Cup.
The RS Spyder returns to Le Mans. The Japanese NAVI Team Goh and the Essex squad from Denmark each field one of the 440 hp sports prototypes at the 24 hour race on 13-14 June. Works drivers Sascha Maassen and Emmanuel Collard join forces with the customer teams.
One Make Race Series
Around the world, Porsche organizes a total of 13 brand trophy series in 2009. While the fight for the title has drawn to an end for the New Zealand GT3 Cup Challenge, rounds in Europe and America are warming up their engines for the first races.
Carrera Cup Sweden: Vision for ice race
At the earliest in time for the 2010 season, the vision of the Carrera Cup Sweden organizers could become reality: A race on ice as the season highlight. At the first tests in northern Sweden, the 420 hp Porsche GT3 Cup already underlined its potential as an ice racer. Only the ride height and suspension set-up must be changed for the unusual surface and studded tyres must be fitted.
Carrera Cup Great Britain: Vice-champion with new top team
Ten weekends with 20 races make up the calendar of the Carrera Cup Great Britain. On 4th and 5th April the first two championship rounds take place on the time-honored circuit of Brands Hatch (Indy). Many top drivers have again signed on, including vice-champion Tony Gilham who almost beat Nigel Rice in the race for the 2008 title. This season, Gilham competes for Red Line Racing, one of the top teams. Two junior drivers, Tom Bradshaw and Lewis Hopkins, make their debut after winning a CCGB Scholarship from Porsche Cars Great Britain as part of its support programme.
Patrón GT3 Challenge by Yokohama, USA: Faieta chases the hat-trick
The US counterpart to the Porsche one-make series runs the first two championship rounds, each over 30 minutes, as support to the 12 Hours of Sebring. Twenty-nine starters line up on the grid, including the reigning champion Bob Faieta, who aims to claim a title hat-trick in the Platinum Class for the latest model of the GT3 Cup cars. Melanie Snow, who narrowly missed out on claiming the 2008 Gold Category title (for GT3 Cup of previous model years) is back for more.
GT3 Cup Challenge Australia: Porsche party with 42 starters
Tony Quinn (VIP Petfoods) returned from the first race weekend on the 6.2 kilometer Mount Panorama (Bathurst) circuit, 210 km west of Sydney, as points’ leader. Bill Pye and reigning champion Sven Burchartz rank second and third after round one. A total of 42 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (996) and 944 made up the grid. Enhancing the field was the newer GT3 Cup (997) which competed in its own class.
GT3 Cup Challenge New Zealand: Craig Baird is the Super Champ
No other driver has been as successful in Porsche’s brand trophy series as the New Zealander Craig Baird (38). On 14th and 15th March, Baird won the final three points races of the GT3 Cup Challenge New Zealand on the Pukekohe circuit to secure his fifth straight championship title. On the way to this success the Australian-resident won twelve of the 18 races in the 2008/2009 season. Baird, who is also the reigning champion in the Carrera Cup Australia, won more than 90 races in the two makes cups.
Vice-champion honours went to Australia’s David Reynolds ahead of Daniel Gaunt from Auckland. The overall win in the class for older GT3 Cup (996) went to Hugh Gardiner from Auckland.
GT3 Cup Challenge Brazil: Perfect weekend for Constantino Junior
Pole position, victory and points’ lead: that’s the balance of Constantino Junior after the first two championship rounds of the GT3 Cup Challenge Brazil in Curitiba on 7th and 8th March. Race one saw Miguel Paludo and Tom Valle secure second and third, with Valle turning the fastest lap. In the second race, Valle and Paludo swapped posi-tions on the podium, whilst Constantino set the lap record on his way to victory. In the drivers’ classification, Constantino Junior leads ahead of Paludo and Valle sharing the same points tally in second.
Carrera Cup Italia: Testing in Misano
Porsche Italia organizes a shakedown for all Carrera Cup Italia teams on 17th-18th March in Misano. The first of eight race weekends, each with two races, takes place on 18th-19th April in Imola.