Penske Porsche RS Spyder Captures St. Pete LMP2 Pole

April 4, 2008

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (April 4, 2008) – At 2 p.m. Friday afternoon, it didn’t look good for the No. 7 Penske Porsche RS Spyder – winner two weeks ago at the 12 hours of Sebring.  Romain Dumas (France), while driving in the warm-up session immediately proceeding qualifying, did not have time to avoid a GT2 car stopped on the circuit, and smashed the right rear of the car, taking out the whole corner (wheel, spindle, control arms, etc.).  With only 45 minutes to go until qualifying, it looked like Dumas and defending champion Timo Bernhard (Germany) would have to start this tight street race course from the back of the field.

But, with team owner Roger Penske personally taking charge of the repair operation in pit lane, not only did the car get back out in time to qualify, but Dumas turned the fastest lap in the LMP2 class and the second fastest overall to capture the class pole for tomorrow’s Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg, which will be telecast live on ABC-TV starting at 1:30 PM Eastern Daylight time.

Their RS Spyder will start on the front row of the event next to the Werner/Luhr Audi R10 LMP1 car, and just in front of the LMP2 Acura ARX of Brabham/Sharp.  Third in LMP2 is the No. 6 Penske Porsche team car of Sascha Maassen (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA), who are trying get back into points chase after an early exit at Sebring due to a water pump malfunction.

“Because of the distance between our truck and the pits, if we had been towed back to our paddock location, we would not have been able to get back to the pits for qualifying,” said John Erickson, general manager for Penske Racing.

“We never doubted we could fix the car because of the skill level of our crew and the stout construction of the car.  The damage was limited to the upper and lower control arms, and wheel assembly,” said Erickson.

“It was amazing to watch Mr. Penske and Mr.(Penske Racing President Tim) Cindric
carrying parts and organizing the team effort after I was towed in,” said Dumas, who had been fastest in the practice session before the crash. 

“I was afraid that they would not finish the repair in time, but not only was the car finished in time, but it handled just as well as it did before.  I’ve never seen a crew work like this Penske Racing team,” said Dumas.