RS Spyder tackles first endurance race
NEWS ON RADIO
with Next Car,
17th March, 2006
When the 54th running of the Sebring 12-hour race takes off this coming weekend at 10.43am local time, an exciting and challenging year begins for Porsche customer sport and the US-based Penske Motorsports team. At Sebring and the following nine rounds of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) Penske Motorsports enters two Porsche RS Spyders in the LMP2 class (Le Mans Prototype 2) as Porsche‘s exclusive customer team. At the same time Porsche makes a comeback as manufacturer to prototype racing after a seven year break. Penske Motorsports runs the RS Spyder flying the corporate colours of main-sponsor DHL Smart & Global Mail.
The RS Spyder is powered by a newly-developed 3.4-litre, 90-degree V8 racing engine. In compliance with the A.C.O. and ALMS rules the unit is fitted with an air restrictor and delivers around 480 hp. The six-speed sequential constant-mesh gearbox with a triple-disc carbon fibre racing clutch is a structural part of the chassis and is operated by a paddle shift system on the steering wheel. Like the Porsche Carrera GT, the RS Spyder‘s chassis is constructed of carbon fibre.
The brake system features internally vented carbon brake discs measuring 380 mm at the front and 355 mm at the rear. Michelin, as Porsche's partner from the very beginning of the project, supplies the race tyres for the new prototype. The RS Spyder weighs in at the minimum allowable weight of 775 kilogrammes.
The Penske Motorsports Porsche with starting number 6 is piloted by works drivers Lucas Luhr (Monaco)/Sascha Maassen (Belgium) and Emmanuel Collard (France). Luhr has won the GT class at Sebring four times and with Maassen secured ALMS GT class championship honours in 2002 and 2003. With 22 victories, Maassen is the most successful GT driver in the history of the American series. Both yielded their ALMS wins at the wheel of Porsche 911 GT3 vehicles. Collard travels to Florida as the current champion of the American Le Mans Series’ LMP1 category and as GT2 champion of the FIA GT Championship.
Manning the RS Spyder with starting number 7 are Porsche works drivers Timo Bernhard (Germany), Romain Dumas (France) and Patrick Long (USA). This trio have also secured successes with the Porsche 911 GT3 in the USA: Bernhard and Dumas are the current vice-champions of the ALMS GT class, whilst Patrick Long claimed the championship title of this category in 2005 together with Joerg Bergmeister (Germany).
In the GT2 class for near-standard racing sportscars Porsche customers are the favourites after an unparalleled streak of success. White Lightning Racing/Petersen Motorsports, as current champions of the team championship, run a 911 GT3 RSR in Sebring for brothers Tim and Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) and American Niclas Johnsson. Alex Job Racing signed on Porsche works drivers Mike Rockenfeller (Monaco), the current Trans-Am champ Klaus Graf (Germany) and Graham Rahal (USA), the son of Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal. The Flying Lizard Motorsports and J3 Racing teams are also amongst the aspirants for class honours. In the last seven years Porsche customer teams have won six driver, team and manufacturer titles in the GT2 category with their 911 GT3 sportscars.
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