At the wheel of the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR fielded by the Falken Tire squad, Porsche works driver Wolf Henzler (Germany) and his teammate Bryan Sellers (USA) and works driver Nick Tandy (GB) finished the opening round of the American Le Mans Series season on the GT podium in third place. With this result, they were the best of the Porsche pilots on the bumpy 17-turn Sebring circuit which hosts America’s oldest endurance race.
The team qualified in 12th place in class, but Henzler timed his acceleration at the green flag perfectly, scooting to sixth place in the 500 meters between the start line and turn one. Then, with perfect pit stops and some great driving in traffic from all three racers, the customer Porsche entry outran and outlasted factory teams from Corvette, BMW, SRT Viper and Aston Martin.
“When the week began, I wouldn’t have thought we had a chance to make it on the podium as we didn’t have the speed of the others. Our Porsche was consistent, with the engine, brakes and handling all perfect, and we made up positions one at a time until we moved into the top three. We are very satisfied with third place. We tested several times here, and that certainly helped, but we have more work to do for the season. One of the secrets to our success today was the fast and consistent driving of my colleagues Bryan and Nick,” said Henzler, the 2008 ALMS co-champion.
The other Porsche customer team in the GT class was the Paul Miller Racing orsche 911 GT3 RSR, with factory drivers Richard Lietz (AUS) and Marco Holzer (GER) joining Bryce Miller (USA), finished in sixth place. Holzer, who will drive this car all season with Miller, was pleased with the performance of his Porsche for the last half of the race
“This was not an easy race for us as our setup in the beginning needed modification, but we picked up our pace and made up four positions in the second half to give Paul Miller Racing its best Sebring finish ever. Bryce and Richard drove great, and a sixth position gives us valuable points for the season,” said Holzer.
In the GTC class for matched Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race cars, no less than seven cars led the class during the 12-hour race, with the #66 TRG Porsche with Damien Faulkner (IRL) in the lead late in the race when an air gun failure during a tire change allowed the #22 Alex Job Racing Porsche being driven by Jeroen Bleekemolen (NL) to take the lead with 90 minutes remaining. Bleekemolen, former Porsche Mobil1 Supercup champion, who shared the driving duties with Cooper MacNeil and Dion von Moltke (both USA), then took the car to the checkered flag to win the class.
Round two of the American Le Mans Series takes place on 20 April on the street circuit in Long Beach, California USA.
1. Milner/Gavin/Westbrook (USA/GB/GB), Chevrolet Corvette, 333 laps
2. Bruni/Beretta/Malucelli (ITA/MC/ITA), Ferrari F458 Italia, 333
3. Henzler/Sellers/Tandy (GER/USA/GB), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 332
4. J.Mueller/Martin/Auberlen (MC/BEL/USA), BMW Z4, 330
5. Farnbacher/Goossens/Dalziel (GER/BEL/USA), SRT Viper, 329
6. Holzer/Miller/Lietz (GER/USA/AUS), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 329
7. D.Mueller/Hand/Edwards BMW Z4 (CH/USA/USA), BMW Z4, 321
8. Senna/Muecke/Turner (BRA/GER/GB), Aston Martin Vantage V8, 318
9. Lamy/Della Lana/Johnson (POR/CAN/USA), Aston Martin Vantage V8, 309
10. Kendall/Wittmer/Bomerito (USA/CAN/USA), SRT Viper, 303
1. Bleekemolen/MacNeil/von Moltke (NL/USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 315 laps
2. Pumpelly/Wong/Canache, Jr. (USA/USA/VEN), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 315
3. Edwards/Cisneros/Seefried (GB/USA/GER), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 314
Driver1. Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner, Richard Westbrook, Chevrolet, 24 points
2. Gianmaria Bruni, Olivier Beretta, Matteo Malucelli, Ferrari, 20
3. Wolf Henzler, Bryan Sellers, Nick Tandy, Porsche, 17
4. Joerg Mueller, Maxime Martin, Bill Auberlen, BMW, 14
5. Ryan Dalziel, Marc Goossens, Dominik Farnbacher, SRT Viper, 12
6. Richard Lietz, Marco Holzer, Bryce Miller, Porsche, 10
7. Joey Hand, Dirk Müller, John Edwards, BMW, 7
8. Darren Turner, Stefan Muecke, Bruno Senna, Aston Martin Vantage V8, 7
9. Jonathan Bomarito, Tommy Kendall, Kuno Wittmer, SRT Viper, 6
10. Pedro Lamy, Paul Della Lena, Billy Johnson, Aston Martin Vantage V8, 5
Manufacturers – GT
1. Chevrolet, 24
2. Ferrari, 20
3. Porsche, 17
4. BMW, 14
5. SRT Viper, 12
Teams – GT
1. Corvette Racing, Chevrolet, 24
2. RISI, Ferrari, 20
3. Team Falken Tire, Porsche, 17
4. Rahal RLL, BMW, 14
The American Le Mans Series
The American Le Mans Series (ALMS) was created in 1999 for sports prototypes and GT vehicles. The field is divided into five classes that start together but are classified separately:
GT class: This most popular class amongst car manufacturers traditionally receives the most support: Slightly modified standard sports cars with 440 to 500 hp and a minimum weight of 1,245 kilograms (e.g. Porsche 911 GT3 RSR).
GTC class: This class is reserved for vehicles from one-make race series like the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
LMP1 class: Sports prototypes with up to 550 hp and a minimum weight of 900 kilograms.
LMP2 class: Sports prototypes with ca. 440 hp and a 900 kg minimum weight. LMPC class: Prototype brand trophy series for the ORECA FLM 09.