Posted by: porschebahn | June 8, 2009

Race report – Grand-Am Series round 5 at Watkins Glen

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Porsche successes at sports car classic

At the six hour race in Watkins Glen, one of the Grand-Am classics in the USA, Porsche pilots continued on the road to success. Finishing third, Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France) secured their second podium result with the 510 hp Porsche Riley fielded by Penske Racing. With this result, the pair managed to make up ground in the overall classification. An even better result came from Dirk Werner (Germany) and Leh Keen (USA), who achieved their second victory of the season in the GT class at the wheel of their Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Thanks to this top result, the duo now leads the points’ standings in the championship.

The gripping race on the Watkins Glen International in the US state of New York, one of the United State’s most traditional raceways, was characterised by tough fights for positions and many changes in the lead. In the opening phase, Penske Racing’s strategy took the competition off-guard when Timo Bernhard surprisingly came in for his mandatory pit stop already in the eighth lap. This tactic paid off – in the 26th lap, the #12 Porsche Riley moved into the lead for the first time.

“We gave everything we had”

The two Porsche-powered Riley vehicles entered by Brumos Racing also ran amongst the front-runners for the first third of the race. David Donohue (USA) even took the lead for a short time before a gear-shifting problem threw him back. Hopes for a top placing were completely dashed after a collision in the 125th lap. Afterwards, it was just a matter of damage control for the winner of the Daytona 24 hour race. His team mate Darren Law (USA) said: “What a shame. We were going so well. In the end our main concern was to bring home as many points as possible towards the championship.”

In the second Brumos Porsche, Joao Barbosa (Portugal) and JC France (USA) at times held a strong fourth place to conclude the race in sixth. Sharing the cockpit of the number 59 vehicle was Terry Borcheller (USA) and Hurley Haywood (USA), one of the most successful sports car pilots in history. Exactly 40 years ago, Haywood celebrated his first win in Watkins Glen and with nine victories here he still holds the record for wins today. In the seventies, Roger Penske also achieved successes in Watkins Glen with the legendary Porsche 917. His drivers Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas were well on the way to follow in the footsteps of their team boss. However, not least due to the reduced engine revs of the Porsche Riley as stipulated by the regulations, it was not quite enough. Despite the handicap, at the flag only one and a half seconds separated the two from their first Grand-Am win.

“We gave everything we had right from the start. It was a very hard but very fair race with strong competition and it was great fun. I’m pleased to bring home a podium result. Nothing more was possible,” said Timo Bernhard, who had taken up the race from fifth on the grid. Romain Dumas added: “We were close, but it was not yet enough for victory. With Porsche and our team we are trying everything to go that last little step. But we just can’t overtake on the straights – that’s where the rev limitations hurt the most. Our advantage was to have a good strategy once again and our fabulous crew that put the best possible car on the track for us today. They work extremely hard to improve the car from race to race.”

GT: Second Porsche win of the season

In the GT class, Dirk Werner and Leh Keen secured their second win of the season with their Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. The two already won in Millville and are now the new points’ leaders in the championship. Their team mates Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Eric Lux (USA) rounded off the strong performance for Porsche with third on the time-honoured race track.

“That was a hard fight from start to finish. We knew that we couldn’t afford to make one mistake,” said Dirk Werner, who set the GT2 pole position in qualifying. “We put in consistently quick lap times and also had the luck to use one of the safety car phases for our pit stop.” Wolf Henzler, who only moved into third place shortly before the finish after a strong chase through the field, raved about the race. “All I needed was a couple more laps and I could have finished second. I squeezed every last thing out of our car and kept getting faster, but after such a fantastic race we can be happy with third.”

Round six of the Grand-Am Series takes place on 20th June in Mid-Ohio in the US state of Ohio.

Statistics

Race result
1. Pruett/Rojas (USA/MEX), Lexus Riley (DP), 188 laps
2. Angelelli/Frisselle (MC/USA), Ford Dallara (DP), 188
3. Bernhard/Dumas (D/F), Porsche Riley (DP), 188
4. Pew/Valiante (USA/CAN), Ford Riley (DP), 188
5. Negri/Patterson (USA/USA), Ford Riley (DP), 188
6. Barbosa/France/Haywood/Borcheller (P/USA/USA/USA), Porsche Riley (DP), 188
7. Bouchut/Tucker (F/USA), BMW Riley (DP), 186
8. Manning/Lester (USA/USA), BMW Riley (DP), 186

Result GT class
1. Werner/Keen (D/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 178 laps
2. Collins/Edwards (USA/USA), Pontiac GXP, 178
3. Henzler/Lux (D/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 178
4. Ham/Tremblay/Haskell (USA/USA/USA), Mazda RX-8, 178
5. Ballou/Pumpelly (USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 178
6. Assentato/Segal (USA/USA), Mazda RX-8, 178

Points’ standings
Driver DP class
1. Brian Frisselle, Max Angelelli, Ford, 140 points
Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, Lexus, 140
2. Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas, Porsche, 134
Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty, Pontiac, 134
3. David Donohue, Darren Law, Porsche, 127

Manufacturers DP class
1. Ford, 157 points
2. Porsche, 145
3. Pontiac, 140
Lexus, 140

Drivers GT class
1. Dirk Werner, Leh Keen, Porsche, 151 points
2. Spencer Pumpelly, Porsche, 143
3. Paul Edwards, Kelly Collins, Pontiac, 140
4. Eric Lux, Porsche, 135

Manufacturers GT class
1. Porsche, 163 points
2. Pontiac, 153
3. Mazda, 139

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