Belle Isle Battle - Porsche Plays For Keeps This Weekend

August 27, 2008

ATLANTA (August 27, 2008) - Two of the most respected performance automotive manufacturers – Porsche and Acura – bring their season-long sports car battle to the automotive capital of the world to battle for supremacy this weekend at the 2008 Detroit Sports Car Challenge presented by Bosch.   With three rounds to go in the racing series with the world’s fastest sports cars, Porsche is well on course to winning the title with the 503 horsepower RS Spyder, featuring direct fuel injection (DFI) technology, in the LMP2 class.

The American Le Mans Series visits Detroit in conjunction with the popular IndyCar Series for open-wheel racers. The Detroit Sports Car Challenge presented by Bosch from Belle Isle is scheduled to start at 2:35 p.m. ET on Saturday, August 30. SPEED TV will broadcast the race live for its two hour, 45-minute duration, and XM Satellite Radio will air it from 5 to 8 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 31, on its motorsports channel 144. Qualifying will be shown live online starting at 4:35 p.m. ET on Friday, August 29 on and American Le Mans Radio will have live coverage of all on-track sessions at which also will feature IMSA's Live Timing and Scoring.

The 2.07-mile circuit is situated on Belle Isle in the Detroit River. At last year’s event debut of the American Le Mans Series on the flowing track with its 14 corners, Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France) celebrated a commanding overall victory in their Penske Porsche RS Spyder. They not only beat their competitors in the LMP2 class but shortly before the finish overtook the Audi R10, which has a power advantage of more than 200 horsepower and a better power-to-weight-ratio.  

“This was the most wonderful victory of my career,” recalls Romain Dumas. In the LMP2 driving championship point standings, Bernhard/Dumas lead their nearest rivals,  Brabham/Sharp Acura drivers, who won the class last week at Mosport, by ten points, while Porsche leads Acura in the manufacturer points by six points.

For the successful Penske Racing squad, Detroit is practically a home event. After all, it was Roger Penske who brought the American Le Mans Series to the Motor City by the way of the Detroit Downtown Partnership, an organization which he serves as chairman and the same organization which brought Super Bowl XL to Detroit two years ago. 

His team again fields two DHL Penske Porsche RS Spyders. While Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas tackle the race with the No. 7 car, there is a change in the cockpit of the No. 6 sister car: Ryan Briscoe (Australia) replaces Germany’s Sascha Maassen to share the cockpit with Patrick Long (USA).

Briscoe, who competes in this year’s IndyCar Series for Penske Racing, will use Detroit to prepare for next month’s important ten-hour Petit Le Mans race in Road Atlanta, where ten bonus points are up for grabs.  Briscoe drove the No. 6 car for the entire season last year, and was scheduled to be a third driver at Sebring ’08, but did not get into the car as it retired before it was his turn to drive.  Briscoe has won two IndyCar Series races so far this year.

“Detroit is one of the most beautiful city circuits,” raves title defender Timo Bernhard about the track on Belle Isle. “It is a fantastic combination of fast and slow corners. We’ll use a much softer set-up than last weekend at Mosport. Moreover, the Detroit GP is Roger Penske’s home race. I hope very much that he has good reason to be proud of us on Saturday evening.”

Patrick Long is also looking forward to the last city race of the season: “Apart from Long Beach, Detroit is second in my ranking of city circuits. Roger Penske turned the race into a five star event. The grandstands are always packed, and the atmosphere here is incredible.”