Dirk Werner (Germany) scored his third American Le Mans Series pole in the last year by pushing his brand new Farnbacher Loles Porsche 911 GT3 RSR to the fast lap during the 20-minute qualifying session for Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Werner, who will share his ride with Porsche factory drivers Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Richard Lietz (Austria), bested works driver Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) in the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche by less than four-tenths of a second. Bergmeister, who will co-driver with factory drivers Patrick Long (USA) and Marc Lieb (Germany), won the race last year with Lieb and Henzler.
The track turned greasy by the time we qualified, and no one was faster than they were this morning in practice, said Werner, who was the 2007 Rolex Grand-Am GT champion and won the ALMS GT class at Road America last year.
The car handled well, but I didn’t think I went fast enough to get the pole, so I was surprised when the crew told me I had the pole. With the new regulations, the Porsche is a little slower down the straightaway, but the car was balanced and had good grip in the corners, said Werner.
One of the two VICI Porsches made it to the qualifying session, with Nicky Pastorelli (Netherlands) using the qualifying session for the car’s first session on the track and qualifying tenth, while Darren Law (USA)qualified the second Flying Lizard Porsche in 13th position. Pastorelli will share his ride with veteran Hans Stuck (Germany) and son Johannes Stuck (Germany). Neiman will share the Lizard car with Johannes van Overbeek and Darren Law (both USA).
The 911 GT3 RSR, which carried Bergmeister/Henzler to the ALMS GT2 drivers championship as well as Porsche to the manufacturers title last season, features a redesigned front end with larger air outlets on the hood. Under the lightweight bodyshell, many other evolutionary changes were made as well; keeping the 911 GT3 RSR the fastest racing Porsche 911 that Porsche builds.
Noticeable at first sight are the air slots on the front hood the result of the completely redesigned radiator air ducting, which became necessary with installation of the new airconditioning unit, added to comply with the ACO 2009 regulations. The aerodynamics under the rear also underwent further fine-tuning. The rear wing now features a wider adjustment range. The weight-optimized brake system and the lighter wiring harness contribute to further improved handling for 2009.
1. Dirk Werner (D), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 2.03,051 Min.
2. Jörg Bergmeister (D), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 2.03,433
3. Gianmaria Bruni (I), Ferrari 430 GT, 2.03,487
4. Mika Salo (SF), Ferrari 430 GT, 2.03,829
5. David Murry (USA), Ford GT, 2:04,333
6. Dominik Farnbacher (D), Panoz Esperante, 2.04,437
7. Bill Auberlen (USA). BMW E92 M3, 2.04,566
8. Chris Hall (USA), Dodge Viper, 2.05,619
9. Johnny Cocker (GB), Aston Martin Vantage, 2.05,692
10. Nicky Pastorelli (NL), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 2.05,805
The race, which takes the green flag on Saturday, March 21, at 10:30 AM EDT, will be telecast live on SPEED TV, with the pre-race show starting at 10:00 AM. The network will stay live until noon, and then come back on the air at 2:00 PM EDT through the checkered flag, and finish at 11:00 PM after the victory circle ceremony. Live scoring and American Le Mans Radio are available at http://www.americanlemans.com/ for the entire race.