With a double class victory at the season final in Laguna Seca/California Porsche crowned its most successful season in the American Le Mans Series. In a gripping four hour race with many lead changes, Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France), who had already secured the drivers title two weeks ago in Road Atlanta, brought their number 7 RS Spyder across the finish line first in the LMP2 class.
In the second Penske Racing RS Spyder with the starting number 6, title defender Sascha Maassen (Germany) and Ryan Briscoe (Australia) made the Porsche success perfect at the close of the season. In the fight for the pole position yesterday Maassen gave the over 200 hp more powerful LMP1 class Audi R10 rivals no chance and even improved on the old lap record by a sensational 3.5 seconds.
Spectators at the fast and challenging circuit near Monterey, on which Porsche’s success story with the RS Spyder began with class victory in the American Le Mans Series in 2005, experienced one of the most thrilling races of the season. In a breath-taking final Romain Dumas put in a fierce battle against Rinaldo Capello in an Audi R10, only to have overall victory snatched from his hands after 157 laps by a mere 0.412 seconds.
“Long distance racing doesn’t get much closer than this. There is no better racing anywhere else in the world,“ said head of Porsche motorsport Hartmut Kristen. “With eight overall victories as well as securing all possible titles we achieved much more than we set out to do. This success was only possible because everyone did a perfect job.“
“Like at the previous race in Road Atlanta I drove the final 30 minutes at my absolute limit,“ said Romain Dumas. “I was able to overtake Dindo Capello several times in his Audi but on the straights I was powerless against the R10 with its power advantage.“ Timo Bernhard, with whom he helped secure six overall wins for Porsche this season and claimed podium results at all twelve rounds, commented, “I had to have a lot of patience at the beginning. But towards the end I overtook my team mate Sascha Maassen and caught up to the leading Audi. Our eighth class win together was a fantastic finish to a perfect season.“
The two RS Spyders fielded by the Porsche-supported US privateer team, Dyson Racing, also gave a fine performance: Chris Dyson (USA) and Guy Smith (Great Britain) clinched fifth in the class, Andy Wallace (Great Britain) and Butch Leitzinger (USA) saw the chequered flag in sixth. The best results for Dyson Racing in its first season with the RS Spyder was third in Long Beach. “A huge compliment to Dyson Racing as well,“ said Hartmut Kristen. “I’m very much looking forward to continuing our work together in 2008.“
For Porsche, the 2007 season was the most successful in the American Le Mans Series. The RS Spyders set new standards in the race series with the world’s fastest sports cars, collecting no less than eight overall victories against the Audi R10, which had a much better power to weight ratio and hence had a clear advantage in the regulations. Added to this were eleven wins in the very competitive and fiercely contested LMP2 class. The four RS Spyders fielded by Penske Racing and Dyson Racing occupied the first four positions in the championship. With these successes, Porsche easily defended all four titles from last year with the Weissach-developed and built sports prototype. One of the highlights of this extraordinary season was the sensational triple victory of the RS Spyder at the race on the famous street circuit of Long Beach.
With the 911 GT3 RSR of Tafel Racing, Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Dominik Farnbacher (Germany) occupied second position in the GT2 class for slightly modified production sportscars. Ralf Kelleners (Germany) and Tom Millner (USA) claimed third with a Rahal Lettermann Racing 911 GT3 RSR. Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) and Johannes van Overbeek (USA) crossed the finish line in their 911 GT3 RSR fielded by Flying Lizard Motorsports in fourth to secure vice-championship honours.
“In this class as well things became extremely exciting in the second half of the season,“ said Hartmut Kristen. “That the championship decision went right to the final after many gripping races just goes to demonstrate the competitiveness and the professional work of the drivers and teams. Fans really witnessed some exciting and close racing here.“
1. McNish/Capello (GB/I), Audi R10 (LMP1), 157 laps
2. Bernhard/Dumas (D/F), Porsche RS Spyder (LMP2), 157
3. Werner/Rockenfeller (D/D), Audi R10 (LMP1), 157
4. Maassen/Briscoe (D/AUS), Porsche RS Spyder (LMP2), 157
5. Fernandez/Diaz (MEX/MEX), Lola B06-43 (LMP2), 157
6. Herta/Kanaan (USA/BR), Acura ARX (LMP2), 157
7. Dyson/Smith (USA/GB), Porsche RS Spyder (LMP2), 157
8. Wallace/Leitzinger (GB/USA), Porsche RS Spyder (LMP2), 156
9. Campell-Walter/Primat (GB/CH), Creation CA07 (LMP1), 154
10. Chilton/Manning (GB/USA), Zytek 07S (LMP1), 153
Fastest race lap
Sascha Maassen, Porsche RS Spyder, 1:12.127 minutes
LMP1: McNish/Capello (GB/I), Audi R10
LMP2: Bernhard/Dumas (D/F), Porsche RS Spyder
GT1: Beretta/Gavin (MC/GB), Chevrolet Corvette
GT2: Salo/Melo (SF/BR), Ferrari 430 GT
Driver LMP2 class
1. Timo Bernhard, Porsche,239
Romain Dumas, Porsche, 239
3. Sascha Maassen, Porsche, 186
Ryan Briscoe, Porsche, 186
5. Andy Wallace, Porsche, 128
Butch Leitzinger, Porsche, 128
Manufacturer LMP2 class
1. Porsche, 251
2. Acura, 169
3. Mazda, 41
Teams LMP2 class
1. Penske Motorsports, Porsche, 251
2. Dyson Racing, Porsche, 146
3. Highcroft Racing, Acura, 115