American Le Mans Series, round 12 in Laguna Seca, USA, preview: Porsche travels to season final hold

The most successful season for Porsche in the American Le Mans Series draws toan end at the Monterey Sports Car Championships on 20th October in Laguna Seca. Despite Porsche having already won all four championship titles in the LMP2 class, the teams who run the RS Spyder in this race series with the world’s fastest sports cars, will not be putting on the brakes. “We have achieved all our goals,” says Porsche’s head of motorsport Hartmut Kristen, “but still this is a race we want to win.”

Four RS Spyders will contest the season-final on the 3.6 kilometre race track on California’s Pacific coast, two hours drive south of San Francisco. Penske Racing fields two of the Weissach-developed and built sports prototypes. Manning the #6 car are Sascha Maassen (Germany) and Ryan Briscoe (Australia), sharing driving duties in the #7 racer are Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France). Two weeks ago, Bernhard and Dumas secured the drivers championship title at Petit Le Mans in Road Atlanta. The US privateer team, Dyson Racing, also compete with two RS Spyders with support at the tracks from Porsche. The #16 cockpit is occupied by Andy Wallace (Great Britain) and Butch Leitzinger (USA), with Chris Dyson (USA) and Guy Smith (Great Britain) driving the #20 car.

This circuit is regarded as one of the most interesting and challenging in the USA, characterised by its corkscrew corner which snakes down a hill and which, for drivers, is practically blind at high speed. “To keep the throttle down and come out the other side is a real challenge,” said Timo Bernhard. For Bernhard, the title win after no less than six overall victories against the considerably more powerful LMP1-class Audi R10 race cars is a dream come true. “You couldn’t wish for a better season. From the technicians in Weissach to our team at the track, we had incredible support from everyone.”

The season balance – with which Porsche returns to the race track where the success story of the RS Spyder in the American Le Mans Series began in 2005 with class victory – is impressive: With eight overall victories and ten class wins the sports prototype from Weissach set new standards. Porsche celebrated its greatest success at the Grand Prix of Long Beach on the famed Californian street circuit with a sensational triple victory in the overall classification. After Porsche secured the manufacturers title for chassis and engine as well as Penske Racing’s win of the team classification well before the end of the season, the drivers and teams are understandably not willing to take any extreme risks. But that however is the only reservation.

“It doesn’t make sense to drive tactically, and it doesn’t make sense to the fans either,” says Hartmut Kristen. “When the race gets going we want to win – just like at any other race.”

The race for the GT2 category title for slightly modified production sportscars remains exciting right to the season final. At Laguna Seca, Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) still has a chance to defend his title from last year. Bergmeister shares his Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 with his team mate Johannes van Overbeek (USA).

The race in Laguna Seca starts on Saturday, 20th October 2007, at 2.45pm local time (11.45pm CEST) and runs over four hours.