Stuttgart. After clinching his second win of the season at the wheel of the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR on the street course of Baltimore, Wolf Henzler now aims to continue his winning streak on one of America's most demanding circuits: In Laguna Seca, the Porsche works driver from Germany and his teammate Bryan Sellers (USA) tackle the eighth round of the American Le Mans Series on 17 September. Californian racing fans can look forward to yet another treat: The ground-breaking Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid 2.0 with its particularly efficient drive technology that epitomises Porsche Intelligent Performance will contest the long distance classic in the dunes of Monterey for the first time.
Laguna Seca is one of four races that have been contested annually since the American Le Mans Series was founded in 1999. The others are Sebring, Mosport and Road Atlanta. The race duration is six hours.
The Laguna Seca Raceway is situated two hours' drive south of San Francisco near Monterey. John Steinbeck immortalized this coastal city with his world renowned 1945 novel "Cannery Row". The trademark of this 3.601 kilometer circuit is the legendary corkscrew corner which winds steeply downhill from the highest point of the track.
The Porsche drivers
As winners of the Mid-Ohio and Baltimore races, Porsche factory driver Wolf Henzler (Germany) and his American teammate Bryan Sellers compete with the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of the Falken Tire squad. His works driver colleagues Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA), reigning GT champions of the American Le Mans Series, share driving duties in the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The second vehicle fielded by the successful customer team from California is manned by Porsche factory pilot Marco Holzer (Germany) and Seth Neiman (USA). Sascha Maassen (Germany) and Bryce Miller (USA) pilot the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Paul Miller Racing, with which they narrowly missed out on a podium spot in Baltimore. Porsche works drivers Romain Dumas (France) and Richard Lietz (Austria) conduct another test with the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid 2.0 and are not eligible to earn points.
Quotes before the race
Hartmut Kristen, Porsche Head of Motorsport: "The challenging Laguna Seca Raceway is the ideal circuit to conduct further tests with the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid 2.0 under race conditions. We hope to yield new findings for the further development of its innovative and outstandingly efficient drive technology. Apart from that, it will be interesting to see how our customer team Falken Tire and their drivers Wolf Henzler and Bryan Sellers perform here after their wins in Mid-Ohio and Baltimore. But we haven't given up on Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long bringing home good results with the #45 Flying Lizard racer this year."
Joerg Bergmeister: "Laguna Seca is a race track that is real fun. A very special challenge is, obviously, the famed corkscrew. We approach it at 210 kph in fifth gear and suddenly there's only sky in front of you. The only orientation points here are a couple of trees. So it's not easy to get this corner perfect."
Patrick Long: "After our bad luck in Baltimore, Laguna Seca comes just at the right time. The circuit suits us - after all, we've won here three times. At six hours, the race is longer than most of the others, and there are more points to earn. If we do well here we can reduce the gap to the front-runners."
Wolf Henzler: "Our victories in Mid-Ohio and Baltimore gave the entire team a huge boost. It's unbelievable the improvements we've made. And it's great to see that all the hard work of the last months has paid off. But we also realise that we can't rest on our laurels, we must continue to put in the effort if we want to secure more successes in the future against the strong competition. That's our goal."
Marco Holzer: "This is my first race in Laguna Seca. I'm very grateful to Porsche that I have the chance to familiarise myself with another new US track, and above all at Laguna Seca where racing is almost always exciting. For my Flying Lizard Motorsports team, this is their home race and of course I want to contribute to making it a success."
Romain Dumas: "I'm very much looking forward to showing the spectators in California the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid 2.0 in a racing situation. We have many Porsche fans on the west coast in particular. Several have already experienced the advantages of the hybrid drive in their Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid. I'm very curious about Laguna Seca. It's one of the most exciting race tracks in the world."
Richard Lietz: "I've never raced in Laguna Seca but I've heard only positive things about it from my colleagues. I'm looking forward to showing the American fans what Porsche Intelligent Performance means and how much fun the Hybrid technology can be."
The Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
The most successful GT race car of the last years took off into the season with a raft of improvements. The output of the four-litre, six-cylinder boxer engine was increased to 455 hp (335 kW). Priority in the development of the car was given to the newly designed aerodynamics at the front and rear. In 2010, the 911 GT3 RSR again won the environmental "Michelin Green X Challenge" classification as the GT vehicle with the best overall efficiency in the American Le Mans Series.
The Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid 2.0
Having undergone further-development since 2010, the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid 2.0, with two 75 kilowatt electric motors on the front axle supplementing the 465 hp four-litre, six-cylinder power unit at the rear, particularly embodies the philosophy of "Porsche Intelligent Performance": The electric energy is generated during braking and stored in an electric flywheel. During acceleration, this energy is automatically delivered to the front wheels, supporting the combustion engine. This leads to a reduction in fuel consumption and increases the cruising range on the circuit.
As the most successful manufacturer at the American Le Mans Series races in Laguna Seca, Porsche has secured seven GT victories since 1999. Three of those wins went to Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long. They won in 2005, 2009 and 2010 with the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR and secured the championship titles in each of these years. The Porsche RS Spyder celebrated its race debut in 2005 at Laguna Seca with a victory in the LMP2 class. The sports prototype, developed and built in Weissach, yielded further class wins on this course near Monterey in 2006 and 2007.
The race in Laguna Seca starts on Saturday, 17 September, at 13.30 hours local time (22.30 hrs CEST) and is broadcast live on www.americanlemans.com. The GT qualifying can be seen on Saturday from 00.40 hours CEST on www.porsche.com/alms-live.
The American Le Mans Series
The American Le Mans Series (ALMS) was created in 1999 for sports prototypes and GT vehicles. The regulations correspond to those of the Le Mans 24 hour race. All classes start together but are classified separately:
- GT class: This most popular class amongst car manufacturers is traditionally extremely well supported: Slightly modified standard sports cars with 440 to 500 hp and a minimum weight of 1,125 - 1,325 kilograms (e.g. Porsche 911 GT3 RSR).
- GTC class: This class is reserved for vehicles from one-make race series (e.g. 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 an 825 kg minimum weight.
- LMPC class: Prototype brand trophy series for the ORECA FLM 09.