Porsche 911 in Motorsport: WEC & ALMS preview
Endurance is the name of the game this weekend, as the FIA World Endurance Championship prepares for six hours of Sao Paulo. Further north, the American Le Mans series racers will be battling it out for two hours around the streets of Baltimore’s harbour.
WEC – Sao Paulo
After a hiatus of over two months, the WEC return to action for the first time since the Le Mans 24 Hours. Six hours around the bumpy and undulating Sao Paulo with provide the Porsche 911 RSRs with a true test of their endurance capabilities.
Porsche AG Team Manthey will be hoping to continue where they left off at the Circuit de la Sarthe. The number 92 GTE Pro entry, driven by Marc Lieb, Richard Lietz, and Romain Dumas, took Porsche to their 99th class victory at the French classic.
The famous 24 hour race saw the trio move to the head of the standings in the drivers’ cup standings, as well as help the number 92 Porsche to the top of the GTE Pro championship.
Although Lieb and Lietz will have to do without Dumas for the shorter six-hour event in Brazil, the duo will still be the men to beat as the Porsche 991 RSR goes from strength to strength in the 2013 season.
In the sister number 91 car, Jörg Bergmeister will drive alongside Frenchman, Patrick Pilet. The pair share sixth place in the GT drivers standings, and will be hoping that Sao Paulo marks the start of a charge up the championship order.
Both works Porsche 911s will face stiff opposition from Aston Martin duo, Darren Turner and Stefan Mücke. Ex-F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi will also prove tough to beat with his co-pilot Toni Villander.
GTE Am is lead by IMSA Performance Matmut in their older, 997-type Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, driven by Raymond Narac and Supercup racer Jean-Karl Vernay. Victory last time out at Le Mans (Porsche’s 100th class win at the race) ensures they will be the men to beat this time out at the Autodromo José Carlos Pace.
The race will be broadcast live on the WEC website. The green flag will drop at 4pm GMT.
ALMS – Baltimore
Porsche will be looking to take its first victory of the 2013 ALMS season this weekend at the Grand Prix of Baltimore. The Stuttgart manufacturer has not enjoyed much success across the Atlantic this year.
However, Team Falken Tires (with its unmistakable blue and green livery) could be a smart pick for victory around the streets of the Maryland harbour circuit.
The Derrick Walker-led squad has triumphed at the bumpy street course for the past two years. 2013 could see drivers Bryan Sellers and Wolf Henzler take a third consecutive victory on a circuit which suits both the Falken tyres and the driving characteristics of the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.
Despite finishing third at Sebring, racing incidents and technical infringements have blighted Team Falken’s season.
After qualifying second at Long Beach, the ALMS’s other street circuit, Sellers and Henzler eventually finished 10th. The duo had been leading in the early stages only to suffer damage after contact with another competitor.
Laguna Seca was similarly frustrating when the car failed a post-race inspection after finishing second.
Although catching the championship leaders over the final four rounds seems impossible, Sellers and Henzler will be hoping that they walk away from two hours of racing from Baltimore with their first win of the year, breaking the domination of the Corvette, BMW, and SRT Viper.
Paul Miller Racing and CORE Motorsport, the latter featuring British star Tom Kimber-Smith, will also be keeping their fingers crossed that the harbour side track allows them to move higher up the ALMS pecking order.