The Porsche works drivers Marc Lieb (Germany) and Richard Lietz (Austria) travel to the premiere of the Le Mans Series in the “Autodromo Internacional do Algarve” in Portimao with a perfect balance so far this season. After securing two wins from two races with their Felbermayr Proton Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, they now lead the GT2 class with a six point advantage.
The third race of the season on the new 4.653 kilometre race track in southern Portugal promises to be a real highlight. The circuit is regarded as technically highly demanding and the 1,000 kilometre race will be contested predominantly during the night. A total of three Porsche 911 GT3 RSR race cars join the 40-strong grid line up, which is divided into four classes.
Whilst Marc Lieb only knows the track through reports and onboard footage, Richard Lietz has already notched up a victory there in the GT Open Series with the Porsche GT3 RSR. “The track is really something very special and it’s great fun,” says Lietz. “It’s very fast, has many up and downhill passages, several crests and blind corners. It’s nestled amongst sand dunes and reminds a bit of the Zandvoort circuit in the Netherlands.” Lieb adds: “In any event, I’ll walk around the track, take a good look and memorise several details like the height of the kerbs and the run-off zones. Our goal is to defend our lead in the championship and if possible to extend it. With only five races in the LMS you can’t afford to have one DNF, so we’ll be driving strategically and not for victory at any cost.” The third driver of the team is Horst Felbermayr Sen. (Austria).
The French Porsche works driver Patrick Pilet and his compatriot Raymond Narac from the IMSA Performance Matmut squad are also familiar with the circuit close to the Atlantic coast that was inaugurated in 2008 with the GT Open race. “Fantastic,” raves Pilet. “Above all, the final, long drawn-out left-hander that’s taken in fifth gear – it’s a tough one. With the 911 and the Michelin tyres we have a perfect package for this circuit. Good handling is everything here. It’s particularly important to keep out of any turmoil when the faster prototypes fight for positions and not to take any risks. A podium result should be possible – winning would be a dream.” Teammate Narac, whose main occupation is as a Porsche dealer, believes: “I think we could profit from the fact that not only the drivers but our team as well have already raced here in the Algarve. And because we race in the dark, this experience will be even more crucial. And that’s just what we have.”
For the young Francisco Cruz Martins, who first joined the German Felbermayr team at the beginning of the season, the third LMS race of 2009 is a personal highlight: For the Portugiese it is his home race. Joining Martins in the GT2-911 is Felbermayr team boss Christian Ried (Germany) and Horst Felbermayr Jr. (Austria).
The race in Portimao takes off on Saturday, 1st August, at 19.15 hrs local time (20.15 hrs CEST) and runs over 215 laps or a maximum of six hours. The TV station “Eurosport” broadcasts the race live from 20.00 to 21.30 hours and from 00.45 to 02.15 hours CEST.
1. Marc Lieb, Richard Lietz, Porsche, 21 points
2. Robert Bell, Gianmaria Bruni, Ferrari, 15
3. Antonio Garcia, Leo Mansell, Ferrari, 12
4. Pierre Ehret, Ferrari, 10
5. Jaime Melo, Ferrari, 8
6. Allan Simonsen, Christian Montanari, Ferrari, 6
1. Ferrari, 29 points
2. Porsche, 26
3. Spyker, 4
4. Aston Martin, 3