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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 12:28 pm    Post subject: Le Mans 2009, Porsche report & pics at the 24 hour race Reply with quote

Strong Porsche line up at long distance classic

Porsche customer teams are well prepared for the 77th running of the legendary Le Mans 24 hour race. The Japanese NAVI Team GOH and the Danish Essex team race two RS Spyder on 13/14 June and are keen to repeat the Porsche double victory from 2008 in the LMP2 sports prototype class. Porsche supports the teams with works drivers Sascha Maassen (Germany/GOH) and Emmanuel Collard (France/Essex).



In the production-based GT2 category, international customer teams compete with five Porsche 911 GT3 RSR vehicles this year. In addition, the two Porsche works pilots Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France) drive an Audi R15 TDI in the class for the most powerful vehicles, the LMP1 sports prototypes.



“With a double victory at its debut last year, the RS Spyder proved to be fast and reliable. And in the GT2 class, we are even better represented than in 2008, with five 911 race cars instead of three. Having Timo and Romain in the LMP1 car, we have two of our drivers, who are amongst the best sports car pilots in the world, who can even fight for overall victory,” says Hartmut Kristen, Head of Porsche Motorsport.



“With this diversity we can travel to La Sarthe with great optimism. We are aiming for class wins for the RS Spyder and the 911 GT3 RSR, and we are well prepared for this.” With 16 overall victories since 1970, Porsche is by far the most successful manufacturer in the history of the long distance classic.



With a total of six test days in Japan and France, NAVI Team GOH, 2004 overall winner at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, has taken meticulous steps to prepare for the race. Joining forces with works driver Sascha Maassen for the event are two Japanese teammates, Seiji Ara, winner at Le Mans in 2004 with GOH, and the talented Formula 3 youngster Keisuke Kunimoto.



“I’m feeling optimistic after our tests,” says Maassen. “The RS Spyder is fast and reliable and my teammates are extremely capable. The experience and preparedness of the team are very important, above all because there was no pre-test on the circuit this year.” No other works driver has clocked up as many kilometres in the RS Spyder as the 39-year-old German.



He has assisted with development of the sports prototype since 2005 and in 2006 claimed the championship title in the American Le Mans Series. Maassen knows the 13.629 kilometre circuit in Le Mans well. In 2004 and 2005 he celebrated class wins in the GT2 category, and last year he came second with an RS Spyder fielded by the Essex team. “I have the greatest respect for the race track and its swift corners,” he says. “The race will be immensely challenging and certainly very exciting. My goal is to improve on last year’s result by one place.”



Taking Maassen’s seat in the Essex team this year is the Porsche factory pilot Emmanuel Collard from France. Together with Denmark’s Casper Elgaard and Kristian Poulsen, the trio are a force to be reckoned with. The 38-year-old Frenchman won the GT class in Le Mans in 2003, secured second in 2005, and in 2007 Collard claimed third overall.



31-year-old Elgaard celebrated second place at the wheel of an Essex RS Spyder in the LMP2 class in 2008 – and early May in Spa claimed his second win in the Porsche sports prototype in the Le Mans Series. Newcomer Poulsen underlined his talent and nerves of steel at his debut on the Belgian circuit, when in the gripping final phase of the race he brought the RS Spyder across the finish line as the winner.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 12:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote



Porsche works drivers Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas, who are lent to Audi, could put in a performance worthy of the history books after recently winning the 24 hour race on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife. Should they now go on to win in Le Mans, they will be the first race drivers in the history of the long distance classic to celebrate victory at both races in one year.



“I’m extremely grateful and happy that Porsche and Audi have given us the chance to drive for overall victory at Le Mans,” says Timo Bernhard, whose racing résumé brims over with successes in endurance racing. The German secured overall victory at the Daytona 24 Hour event in 2003 and at the 2008 Sebring 12 hour race together with Romain Dumas. Teaming up with the Frenchman, he claimed all championship titles in the American Le Mans Series with the RS Spyder in 2007 and 2008.



In the GT2 class as well, customer teams receive support from Porsche through works drivers. The German Felbermayr Proton squad brings a top line-up for its 911 GT3 RSR. At the wheel of the #77 Porsche are Marc Lieb (Germany), Richard Lietz (Austria) and Wolf Henzler (Germany). After a three-year break from competing at Le Mans to complete his studies, Lieb is now eagerly anticipating the race. “Le Mans is always a highlight,” says the 28-year-old. “The atmosphere is unusually wonderful, and the track is great.



It’s huge fun to drive there. Above all, with its high full throttle percentage, the circuit suits our 911. With Richard and Wolf we have a top team and the new Michelin tyres fit perfectly. In short, we have a real chance to win – and we want to use it.” Lieb has already celebrated three wins this season: Together with Lietz, he won the first two rounds of the Le Mans Series. And like Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas, he was one of the winning Porsche quartet on the Nordschleife.



The French IMSA Performance Matmut team fields two 911. Taking up the race in the #76 car are Raymond Narac (France) as well as Porsche works drivers Patrick Long (USA) and Patrick Pilet (France). Rounding of the IMSA contingent are Horst Felbermayr Jr., Horst Felbermayr Sr. (both Austria) and Michel Lecourt (France).



From America comes the Flying Lizard team with drivers Darren Law and Seth Neiman (both USA), backed up by Porsche works driver Jörg Bergmeister from Germany. The fifth 911 GT3 RSR is entered by the Endurance Asia team, with drivers Darryl O’Young (China), Philippe Hesnault (France) and Plamen Kralev (Bulgaria).



Traditionally, the Le Mans race weekend gets underway with the technical scrutineering on Monday and Tuesday (8/9 June) on the Le Mans market square – witnessed by thousands of enthusiastic spectators. Free practice takes place on Wednesday, from 19.00 hours to midnight, with the qualifying sessions to determine the grid line-up held on Thursday from 19.00 to 21.00 hours and from 22.00 hours to midnight. On Friday the engines remain silent.



The famous drivers’ parade takes place from 18.00 to 19.00 hours from the race track to the city centre of Le Mans. On Saturday, 13 June, at 15.00 hours, the lights turn green for the 55 competitors at the world’s most famous 24 hour race.



Eurosport broadcasts the entire race live alternately with its Pay-TV subsidiary Eurosport 2, with two thirds of the race covered by the free main station. The qualifying as well as the warm-up will also be televised.


Facts and figures

24 Hours of Le Mans

The 55-strong grid line-up for the Le Mans 24 Hours is made up of two different sports car categories: Sports prototypes and standard sports cars. The technical regulations of the long distance classic are the basis for the European Le Mans Series (LMS), in which one RS Spyder competes in 2009, and the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). All race cars take off at the same time in Le Mans. There is an overall classification and classifications for each class.

The four classes in Le Mans:

LMP1 class: Sports prototypes with up to 700 hp and a minimum weight of 900 kilograms. Power to weight ratio: ca. 1.3 kg/hp.

LMP2 class: Sports prototypes with around 440 hp (with normally aspirated engines) and an 825 kilogram minimum weight. Power to weight ratio: ca. 1.8 kg/hp. The Porsche RS Spyder starts in this class.

GT1 class: Strongly modified standard sports car with up to 650 hp and a minimum weight of 1,125 – 1,325 kilograms.

GT2 class: Slightly modified standard sports cars with 450 to 460 hp and a minimum weight of 1,145 – 1,345 kilograms. The Porsche 911 GT3 RSR competes in this class.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 1:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Double pole for Porsche RS Spyder and 911 GT3 RSR

Stuttgart. A perfect start to the French long distance classic: At the qualifying session for the Le Mans 24 hour race, Porsche race cars claimed pole position in both the LMP2 class for sports prototypes as well as in the production-based GT2 category. Competing for Denmark’s Essex racing as a regular driver, Casper Elgaard (Denmark) qualified the RS Spyder on pole in the LMP2 class in 3:37.720 minutes.

The second RS Spyder, fielded by the Japanese NAVI team Goh and manned by Seiji Ara (Japan), followed in second, a mere 0.082 seconds slower than the pole-sitter. With these brilliant times, the two vehicles left the rest of the LMP2 field a good four seconds behind them on the 13.629 kilometre circuit.

At the top of the GT2 category, the situation was equally as tight. Porsche works drivers Joerg Bergmeister (Germany, Flying Lizard team) and Marc Lieb (Germany, Felbermayr-Proton) were separated by just 0.03 seconds with their two Porsche 911 GT3 RSR at the head of the field.

The 77th running of the long distance classic takes off on Saturday, 13 June, at 15.00 hours. Porsche is excellently represented in the race. Aside from the two sports prototypes, which last year celebrated a double victory, international customer teams field a total of five 911.

The 2009 Essex squad, which last year came second in the LMP2 class, consists of pole-sitter Elgaard as well as his compatriot Kristian Poulsen and Porsche works driver Emmanuel Collard (France). “Although we couldn’t work on the race set-up because of the rain during yesterday’s free practice, the RS Spyder felt very good right from the start in the dry today. The balance was just right. We’ve made great improvements with the Michelin tyres compared to last year.

They are perfect for the car.” Essex team’s RS Spyder surprised fans in Le Mans with a completely new look. The green paintwork symbolises that the car is the official “Michelin Green X Challenge” ambassador. Last year, the RS Spyder won Michelin’s efficiency award at the 24 hour race and in the Le Mans Series as the vehicle with the best overall efficiency in the field, which was calculated from a combination of high average speed and low fuel consumption. The Danes received the right to compete at Le Mans through their result in the efficiency classification from last year.

Seiji Ara of Japan’s NAVI Team GOH, overall winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2004 with Goh, was slightly unhappy after narrowly missing out on pole position. “The front position was within reach,” said Ara, who last drove in Le Mans in 2005, “but then I got caught in traffic on the fast passage. Never mind! We have an excellent car. Most of all, I’m very impressed with the braking stability of the RS Spyder.

It’s huge fun to brake for the narrow corners from over 300 kph.” Joining forces with Ara is his 20-year-old countryman Keisuke Kunimoto, who won the famous Formula 3 street race through Macao last year, and the German Porsche factory pilot Sascha Maassen. “From the first moment on I was involved in the development of the RS Spyder,” said the 39-year-old German. “For that reason my dream and my goal is to win the fastest and most fascinating long distance race in the world.”

The two Porsche works drivers Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France), lent to Audi to contest the race, take up the 24 hour event from seventh in the overall classification. They share driving duties with Audi pilot Alexandre Prémat (France) at the wheel of an R15 TDI in the most powerful class of the LMP1 sports prototypes. “During qualifying we concentrated predominantly on the car’s race set-up, and not just on turning out a quick qualifying lap,” the German said.

“Being new to the diesel vehicle this was very important, particularly because we didn’t get a chance yesterday in the wet and there was no pre-testing here on the track in the lead up to the race. Romain and I are very happy to get the chance to drive for overall victory in an LMP1 vehicle. We have received a warm welcome from the Audi crew and feel right at home here. That’s not something I simply take for granted.”

For a long time it looked as if Marc Lieb, Richard Lietz (Germany) and Wolf Henzler (Germany) would bring home an unchallenged top time in the GT2 class. But in the dying minutes of the qualifying, Joerg Bergmeister snatched the pole position away.

The Porsche works driver from Germany competes in the 911 GT3 RSR of the American Flying Lizard team with Seth Neiman and Darren Law (both USA). “In the first instance it was important for my two team mates to get a couple of laps in on a dry track,” said Bergmeister. “During the first part of the qualifying we worked on the set-up and only put in some fast laps towards the end on a fresh set of tyres. I turned a relatively decent lap before it got dark. In the second session I continued working on the set-up.”

Marc Lieb was also satisfied: “Our whole package is very good with a great team, great car and great drivers. So, we’re feeling quite optimistic for the race.” Taking up the race from sixth in the GT2 class is the IMSA Performance Matmut team with the two Porsche works drivers Patrick Pilet (France), Patrick Long (USA) as well as Raymond Narac (France). The second IMSA-911, with drivers Horst Felbermayr Jr., Horst Felbermayr Sr. (both Austria) and Michel Lecourt (France) head into the race from 14th, ahead of the 911 GT3 RSR of the Endurance Asia team with drivers Darryl O’Young (China), Philippe Hesnault (France) and Plamen Kralev (Bulgaria).


Qualifying result LMP2

1. Elgaard/Collard/Poulsen (DK/F/DK), Porsche RS Spyder, 3:37.720 minutes
2. Ara/Kunimoto/Maassen (J/J/D), Porsche RS Spyder, + 0.082 seconds
3. Kane/Leuenberger/Pompidou (GB/CH/F), Lola Judd, + 4.004
4. Erdos/Newton/Dyson (GB/GB/USA), Lola Mazda, + 4.232
5. Pla/Amaral/Smith (F/P/GB), Ginetta-Zytek, + 4.292
6. Biaggi/Bobbi/Piccini (I/I/I), Lola Judd, + 5.128
7. Ojjeh/Gosselin/Peter (SAU/F/A), Zytek, + 7.110
8. Lahaye/Ajlani/Moureau (F/SYR/F), Pescarolo Mazda, + 7.312
9. Barazi/Bennett/Moseley (DK/GB/GB), Zytek 07S, + 15.263
10. Noda/Pourtales/Marsh (J/F/GB), Lola Mazda, + 15.352

Qualifying result GT2

1. Neiman/Law/Bergmeister (USA/USA/D), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 4.03.202 minutes
2. Lietz/Lieb/Henzler (A/D/D), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, + 0.030 seconds
3. Melo/Kaffer/Salo (BR/D/FIN), Ferrari F430 GT, + 0.854
3. Bouchut/Lebon/Rodrigues (F/F/F), Ferrari F 430 GT, + 0.882
5. Malucelli/Ruberti/Babini (I/I/I/), Ferrari F 430 GT, + 1.020
6. Pilet/Narac/Long (F/F/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, + 1.446
7. Bruni/Companc/Russo (I/ARG/ARG), Ferrari F 430 GT, + 1.736
8. Bell/Kirkaldy/Sugden (GB/GBGB), Ferrari F430 GT, + 1.966
9. Cocker/Drayson/Franchitti (GB/GB/GB), Aston Martin Vantage, + 3.280
10. Simonsen/Farnbacher/Montanari (DK/D/I), Ferrari F 430 GT, + 3.410
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 8:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Win and energy efficiency award for Porsche RS Spyder

The success story of the Porsche RS Spyder continues: At the Le Mans 24 Hour race, the Essex team (Denmark) celebrated a clear victory in the LMP2 class. The 440 hp sports prototype from Weissach also won the energy efficiency classification “Michelin Green X Challenge” as the car with the best overall efficiency, calculated by the ratio between lap times and fuel consumption.





The RS Spyder of the Danish customer team beat its rivals in the LMP2 class by 15 laps. One hour before the end of the race, the RS Spyder of NAVI Team GOH spun off the track while running an easy second under braking for the first chicane on the Hunaudières straight on an oil spill of a competitor, hit the barriers and retired. The Japanese driver Seiji Ara was uninjured.

“We’re proud that in customer hands the RS Spyder not only confirmed its high speed and reliability again but also won the environmental classification. It’s such a great pity that the second RS Spyder retired. NAVI Team GOH put in an immaculate performance and really would have deserved to secure second,” said Porsche Head of Motorsport, Hartmut Kristen.





In 2008, the RS Spyder won the energy efficiency challenge at all races and championships – in the Le Mans 24 Hours, the American Le Mans Series and the European Le Mans Series. With this, the RS Spyder impressively underlined its status as the world’s most efficient sports prototype.

“After claiming second last year we are absolutely over the moon with our victory today,” said Essex driver Casper Elgaard (Denmark). “This is a huge success for our Danish team, which only began competing in long distance racing last year.” Porsche works driver Emmanuel Collard (France) added: “The key to success was the RS Spyder. We didn’t have the slightest technical problem and turned fast and steady laps.” Only once in the night was there an unscheduled stop.





Before the first Hunaudières chicane, the two close-running RS Spyder hit a patch of oil and began to slide. Keisuki Kunimoto (NAVI Team GOH) nudged the Essex car, resulting in both vehicles having body parts replaced. “Our crew did a super job,” said the third Essex driver, Kristian Poulsen (Denmark), who celebrated his Le Mans debut with victory. “I would like to thank the team and mostly Casper and Emmanuel. They did most of the work.”

After a break of four years, NAVI Team GOH, Le Mans winner of 2004 with Seiji Ara, looked like they would bring home a safe second place right up until an hour before the flag – with a ten lap advantage over third position. Oil from a competitor became Ara’s eventual fate. “I had no chance. Two wheels hit the oil that I couldn’t see while braking,” said Seiji Ara. “It’s a bitter end of a great race. I’m pleased that the RS Spyder is not only fast, but also safe.”




continued...
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 8:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

His compatriot Keisuke Kunimoto contested the long distance classic for the first time. Porsche works driver Sascha Maassen was full of praise: “I salute our team’s performance. Perfect preparation, perfect team work in every respect. I’m so sorry that we couldn’t bring home the success they deserved.” For the perfect work in the pit stops, the team received a special prize from the organisers.

Porsche works drivers Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France), lent to Audi for the Le Mans 24 hour race, lost all chances to win with a technical defect in their #3 Audi R15 TDI which resulted in repairs over several hours on Saturday night. With their chase through the field from the back to finish 18th, the two shone with their excellent lap times.





“It hurts to be out of contention for overall victory so early on,” summarised Bernhard. “Still, it was great fun. The Audi crew made us feel very welcome from the first moment on,” added Dumas.

In the production-based GT2 class, the double pole for the 911 GT3 RSR from qualifying could not be turned into a race success. After just two hours, the race came to an end for the three Porsche works drivers Marc Lieb (Germany), Richard Lietz (Austria) and Wolf Henzler (Germany). A problem with the fuel system caused the engine of the 911 to die and not start again – 100 metres from the entrance to the pit lane.





As the regulations do not allow a car to be towed in such a case, the leading trio of the German Felbermayr-Proton team had no chance to repair the otherwise technically perfect 911 and retired. “Of course I’m very disappointed,” said Marc Lieb. “But we are looking ahead and already looking forward to the next race in the Le Mans Series, where we want to extend our championship lead with another victory.”

For the American Flying Lizard team, the 2009 Le Mans race ended in the early morning hours when Darren Law (USA) collided heavily with the barriers. Prior to this, pole-setter Jörg Bergmeister (Germany) and team owner/gentleman driver Seth Neiman (USA) were steadily moving in the direction of a podium result with their GT3 RSR.





The French IMSA Performance Matmut team with Porsche works drivers Patrick Pilet (France) and Patrick Long (USA) as well as Raymond Narac (France) maintained third place for more than two-thirds of the race distance. On Sunday morning a problem with the power transmission put an end to their promising charge.


Race result LMP2

1. Elgaard/Collard/Poulsen (DK/F/DK), Porsche RS Spyder, 357 laps
2. Kane/Leuenberger/Pompidou (GB/CH/F), Lola Judd, 353
3. Nicolet/Hein/Yvon (F/MC/F), Pescarolo Mazda, 325
4. Barazi/Bennett/Moseley (DK/GB/GB), Zytek 07S, 306






The four classes in Le Mans:
LMP1 class: Sports prototypes with up to 700 hp and a minimum weight of 900 kilograms. Power to weight ratio: ca. 1.3 kg/hp.

LMP2 class: Sports prototypes with around 440 hp (with normally aspirated engines) and an 825 kilogram minimum weight. Power to weight ratio: ca. 1.8 kg/hp. The Porsche RS Spyder starts in this class.

GT1 class: Strongly modified standard sports car with up to 650 hp and a minimum weight of 1,125 – 1,325 kilograms.

GT2 class: Slightly modified standard sports cars with 450 to 460 hp and a minimum weight of 1,145 – 1,345 kilograms. The Porsche 911 GT3 RSR competes in this class.
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