ATLANTA – March 15 – Porsche’s entries in the 58th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring (Saturday, March 20, live on SPEED TV) span the entire line of Weissach-prepared 911 race cars, plus one of the most successful Porsche prototypes of all time.
This Year’s Sebring Crop – 45 Porsche Race Cars
Forty-five Porsche race cars will contest three of the classes running the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, as well as the matched Porsche 911 GT3 Cup racers competing in the Patron GT3 Challenge by Yokohama.
The 58th edition of the Sebring 12-hour event will take the green flag on Saturday, March 20, at 10:30 AM EDT, with live television coverage on SPEED TV starting at 10:00 AM. The first 90 minutes of the race action will be telecast (until noon EDT), and then the final eight-and-a-half hours starting at 2:00 PM until the checkered flag at 10:30 PM will be live on SPEED. The network will stay on the air until 11:00 PM with complete post-race coverage and interviews.
“This is the toughest race on the calendar, but we’ve done a lot of testing and are well prepared. But still, Sebring is always good for a surprise,” says Porsche factory driver Joerg Bergmeister (Germany), who, along with fellow factory driver Patrick Long (USA), is the defending GT2 class champion. Long and Bergmeister will share their Flying Lizard Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 RSR with factory driver colleague Marc Lieb (Germany) for this long event. Competing in the #45 Lizard Porsche entry, the trio lead the campaign of the Porsche customer teams in the GT2 class against strong opposition from BMW, Ferrari, Jaguar and Corvette.
Porsche factory drivers Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Patrick Pilet (France) are joined by Bryan Sellers (USA) to race for the Falken Tire squad their brand new Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, while Flying Lizard Motorsports has entered a second Porsche 911 GT3 RSR iS manned by Darren Law (USA) and Seth Neiman (USA), with Porsche factory pilot Richard Lietz (Austria) supporting them.
“Sebring is the first race with my new team and that alone makes it special,” says Wolf Henzler, who won the Sebring classic on his way to the GT2 championship with Joerg Bergmeister in 2008.
The team used the traditional winter tests on the Sebring International Raceway predominantly to conduct tire testing. For Wolf Henzler, the progress they made was as positive as the first impression of his new squad.
“The tests went well. The team is very organized and motivated. Of course, we need time to grow closer but we’ve had an excellent start,” said Henzler, who is also a four-time Porsche Supercup champion.
As the most successful GT racing sports car of the 2009 season, the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR has notched victories and title wins in the American Le Mans Series, the Le Mans Series in Europe and the FIA GT Championship. In the USA, the vehicle also secured the ‘Michelin Green X Challenge’ environmental title for the vehicle that demonstrates the best overall performance and fuel efficiency. This is an achievement of which Hartmut Kristen, Head of Porsche Motorsport, is particularly proud.
“It’s giving the right signal to place more importance on the efficiency of a racing car,” said Mr. Kristen.
In the LMP2 prototype class, Team Cytosport has entered the Muscle Milk Porsche RS Spyder with Klaus Graf (Germany), Sascha Maassen (Germany) and Greg Pickett (USA) at the helm. The car, which scored podium finishes in all four races it entered in 2009, plans to run the entire American Le Mans Series in 2010. The Porsche RS Spyder, which won the America Le Mans Series LMP2 championship 2006 – 2008, also claimed an overall victory at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 2008.
For the first full year of the ALMS GT Challenge Class, the endurance class for matched Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race cars, a large selection of well-know drivers and teams have filled out THE grid, including cars from Porsche championships team owners Alex Job, James Sofronas, and Kevin Buckler, along with returning entries from Velox Motorsports and WERKS II racing. Professional drivers include Andy Pilgrim, James Sofronas, Andy Lally, Luis Diaz, Butch Leitzinger, Leh Keen, Shane Lewis and Lawson Aschenbach.
Patron GT3 Challenge by Yokohama
Entering its sixth season, the Patrón GT3 Challenge by Yokohama is one of IMSA’s leading developmental series. The 2010 championship features a seven event schedule – with six American Le Mans Series weekends - on North America’s finest natural terrain road courses.
For this year’s Sebring race week, there will be 37 cars entered in two 45-minute races.
The Patrón GT3 Challenge by Yokohama features semi-professional drivers racing head-to- head in Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars – one of the world’s most successful race cars - with sealed ENGINES and transmissions. The latest 2010 purpose-built race cars have sealed
450 h.p. engines and six-speed sequential transmissions, providing for close racing where the driver’s talents are featured. The first five years of the series have produced fending-banging action and razor-thin margins of victory.
This year’s series will be split into two classifications - Platinum Cup for the new 2010 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup and Gold Cup for the 2009 through 2005 version of the GT3 racer. The Patrón Spirits Company returns as the title sponsor for the championship with Yokohama as the presenting partner and exclusive tire supplier. All races will be featured elements of the series’ full-season television package on SPEED. Each telecast will feature race highlights, lifestyle segments and other features pertaining to one of North America’s leading single-make championships.
Stronger, wider, faster than its predecessors, the new version of the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup offers its many customers the world over even greater value than ever before. The successor to the best-selling racing car of all time built in a production series of more than 1,400 units is based for the first time on the 911 GT3 RS, with the weight of the racing model reduced significantly versus the lightweight road-going version. Engine capacity is up by 0.2 liters over the former model, engine output is 30 bhp more than before.
PORSCHE SEBRING FACTS (updated March 12, 2010)
Overall Wins: 18 (13-Year Winning Streak – overall, 1976-1988)
1960 – Hans Hermann/Oliver Gendebien Porsche RS 60
1968 – Hans Hermann/Jo Siffert – Porsche 907
1971 – Vic Elford/Gerald LaLarrousse – Porsche 917
1973 – Hurley Haywood/Peter Gregg/Dave Helmick – Porsche Carrera
1976 – Al Holbert/Michael Keyser – Porsche Carrera
1977 – George Dyer/Brad Frisselle – Porsche Carrera
1978 – Brian Redman/Charles Mendez/Bob Garretson – Porsche 935
1979 – Bob Akin/Roy Woods/Rob McFarlin – Porsche 935
1980 – Dick Barbour/John Fitzpatrick – Porsche 935 K3
1981 – Hurley Haywood/Al Holbert/Bruce Leven – Porsche 935
1982 – John Paul, Sr./John Paul, Jr. – Porsche 935
1983 – Kees Nierop/Wayne Baker/Jim Mullen – Porsche 934
1984 – Stefan Johansson/Mauricio DeNarvaez/Hans Heyer – Porsche 935
1985 – A.J. Foyt/Bob Wollek – Porsche 962
1986 – Hans Stuck/Bob Akin/Jo Gartner – Porsche 962
1987 – Bobby Rahal/Jochen Mass – Porsche 962
1988 – Klaus Ludwig/Hans Stuck – Porsche 962
2008 – Romain Dumas, Timo Bernhard, Emmanuel Collard – Porsche RS Spyder
Other Porsche Sebring Records
Most top ten overall finishes – 205
Class Wins: 65 (a manufacturer record)
Fastest race lap: 130.707 mph (by Derek Bell in a Porsche 962 – 1986)
Porsche 911 Wins: 29 Overall and Class Victories
GT Class Wins: 26 (since 1979)
At least one Porsche has competed at Sebring every year since 1953 –
56 straight races (there was no race in 1974). No other manufacturer is close to that record.