In Detroit in the US state of Michigan, the tenth of twelve American Le Mans Series (ALMS) rounds takes place on Saturday. On the city circuit in the US metropolis, Porsche is intent on further extending its lead in the championship after securing seven overall victories and eight LMP2 class wins in a row with the RS Spyder. Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France) head the drivers championship with a 21 point advantage over their team mates Sascha Maassen (Germany) and Ryan Briscoe (Australia). Porsche leads the manufacturers classification with an edge of 63 points.
For the first time, the ALMS makes a guest appearance on the ca. 3.35 kilometre race circuit on Belle Isle, an island in the Detroit River. From 1992 to 2001 the CART Series regularly competed here at the Detroit Grand Prix. For a non-permanent track the 14-corner circuit is wide and flowing and allows high cornering speeds. “I only know this circuit from a track plan,” says points leader Timo Bernhard. “But you can clearly see that there are hardly any straights but loads of very long corners with large radii. This makes things rather difficult to overtake slower vehicles when you are forced to leave the ideal line on a slippery part of the track.”
In Detroit, a total of four Weissach-developed and built RS Spyders will take up the race. Two cars are fielded by Penske Motorsports who already secured the ALMS team championship last weekend at the Mosport International Raceway: Title defender Sascha Maassen and Ryan Briscoe man the RS Spyder with starting number six. Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas share driving duties at the wheel of the #7 RS Spyder.
Dyson Racing, the US privateer team with support from Porsche, also run two RS Spyders. Andy Wallace (Great Britain) and Butch Leitzinger (USA) compete in the vehicle with starting number 16, Chris Dyson (USA) and Guy Smith (Great Britain) pilot the #20 car.
Porsche works driver Romain Dumas is particularly looking forward to the special atmosphere of a race through the city: “The fans can get really close to the action here and experience us at the limit right up close. And with us and the Indy Racing League as a double header, spectators witness two top US series.”
Although the drivers and manufacturers titles are within striking distance, Timo Bernhard sees no reason to ease off: “Like at our double victory last week in Canada we are going to gun it and try to stay in our rhythm. The whole package is working perfectly. Porsche didn’t win the last seven races in a row for nothing.”
In the GT2 class for modified production sportscars, Ralf Kelleners (Germany) and Tom Milner (USA) are eager to continue their podium run. In a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of the Rahal Letterman Racing team the duo claimed positions two and three at the last two rounds. Title defender Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) is determined to reduce the 16-point gap to the leading Ferrari team with his team mate Johannes van Overbeek (USA) at the wheel of their Flying Lizards Motorsports GT3 RSR.
The Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix takes off on Saturday at 15.15 hours local time (21.15 CEST) and runs over 2:45 hours.