Penske Porsches Aim for Manufacturer's Title at ALMS Finale
October 15, 2008
MONTEREY, Calif. (October 15, 2008) - At the final round of the 2008 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. on Saturday, October 18, the DHL Penske Porsche RS Spyder team aims to help the legendary manufacturer clinch the LMP2 class championships – still up for grabs after a stunning win at the Petit Le Mans earlier this month. With 25 points to the winners in each class, Porsche leads Acura by eight points in LMP2. Only the top finishing entry for each manufacturer receives points in the standings. .
“It would be a wonderful conclusion to a very successful season if we could win the manufacturers championship as well,” said Hartmut Kristen, head of Porsche Motorsport worldwide. “Having already won the other titles, we can now concentrate totally on this goal.”
The race, which starts at 5:45 p.m. EDT on Saturday, October 18 and runs for four hours, will be telecast on a delayed basis by NBC on Sunday, October 19, at 2:00 p.m. EDT. The race will be covered live on the American Le Mans Radio web at www.americanlemans.com, which will also provide streaming video of qualifying sessions starting at 6:05 p.m. EDT on Friday, October 17.
On the 2.238-mile, 11-turn Laguna Seca Raceway, two hours’ drive south of San Francisco on the Pacific coast, three 503 hp DHL Penske Porsche RS Spyder sports prototypes will be challenging for the manufacturers title.
Sharing the No. 7 DHL RS Spyder are the 2007 and 2008 driver champions Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France). Manning the cockpit of the No. 6 racer are Sascha Maassen (Germany), winner in the RS Spyder’s debut at Laguna in 2005, and Patrick Long (USA), the only American Porsche factory driver. And returning to lend their support are Helio Castroneves (Brazil) and Ryan Briscoe (Australia), Team Penske IndyCar Series drivers. At their first race together in the No. 5 RS Spyder, the 2008 Petit Le Mans, they secured their first ALMS class victory.
The signature feature of the race track near Monterey, regarded as one of the most interesting and diverse in the North America, is Corkscrew corner. It snakes downwards like a corkscrew, with drivers approaching the crest at high speed virtually blind.
“You need a reliable car and a good dose of courage to keep your foot down and stay on the ideal line,” said Bernhard, who with his teammate Dumas started the 2008 season with an impressive overall victory at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. On the way to successfully defending their title, the German-French duo followed up with class wins in St. Petersburg, Salt Lake City and Mid-Ohio.
Despite having already achieved their personal goal with the driver’s title, Bernhard and Dumas will certainly not slow down in Laguna Seca. On the contrary – the pair are determined to help Porsche retain the manufacturers’ title (engine and chassis) in the race series featuring the world’s fastest sports cars. “We’re a team,” said Bernhard. “The most important thing is success for Porsche. We received such tremendous support this season that we want to do everything to give something back to the team. It would also be incredible to secure all the titles for Porsche again this year.”
According to Dumas, it was much harder to defend the title this year against increased Acura competition than it was to win it the first time. “We are having to work as a team to help Porsche win the makes title,” said Dumas.