On the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Porsche works drivers Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA) came so close to scoring their second win of the season in the American Le Mans Series. At the wheel of the Flying Lizard Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, the pair battled to the finish for victory in the very competitive GT class. In the gripping sixth round of the race series featuring the world’s fastest sports cars, the Lime Rock winners were pipped to the flag by just 0.283 seconds.
After putting in a strong qualifying effort, Patrick Long took up the race from the third grid spot to immediately pull past an opponent. When the leader was too late on the brakes and took a trip into the greens, the Porsche pilot grabbed the chance to slip into the lead. As in the previous races, the GT class was again fiercely contested on the storied 3.621 kilometre circuit in the US state of Ohio. Spectators sitting on the grass hills around the track were treated to thrilling fights for positions and changes at the head of the field. When Patrick Long handed the #45 Porsche to Joerg Bergmeister with an hour to go to the finish he was running in second. Whilst the double Mid-Ohio winner managed to chip away at the gap to the leader, he was no longer in a position to overtake the front-runner to claim victory. For the Mid-Ohio winner of 2009, this result marked his second podium placing this season.
“Again our car was well set-up for the race and our strategists made precisely the right calls,” said Joerg Bergmeister. “We conserved our tyres for an attack shortly before the finish. Today we were slightly faster than the leading Corvette, but I didn’t manage to get close enough to attempt an overtaking manoeuvre,” Bergmeister explained. Patrick Long said, “I was held up early on by slower traffic but once I got past them and took the lead I was able to defend it well. But when the safety car then came out the others caught up.”
Driving the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR fielded by Falken Tire, last year’s winners, Porsche factory pilot Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Bryan Sellers (USA), repeated their recent result in Mosport narrowly missing the last podium spot with fourth. Wolf Henzler was still pleased, “Normally I wouldn’t be so thrilled about fourth,” he said, “but this time it feels like a win for us. The progress our team is making is incredible. They did everything right: the pit stops were perfect, our fuel was exactly enough to get us to the finish and the decision not to change the tyres at the last pit stop was correct. Still, we weren’t fast enough and you mustn’t forget that. We need a tyre that allows us to match the pace of the front-runners. I know that Falken are working hard on this and that gives us confidence for the rest of the season.”
When Porsche works driver Marco Holzer (Germany) took over the second Flying Lizard Porsche from team owner Seth Neiman (USA), he was lying in 13th. But after a spirited chase through the field he finally saw the flag in seventh. At his 100th race in the American Le Mans Series, Sascha Maassen (Germany) with his teammate Bryce Miller (USA) achieved ninth in the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR run by Paul Miller Racing.
“That was our best team effort so far this year,” said Jens Walther, President of Porsche Motorsports North America. “Our teams concentrated on improving the set-up of their cars. Moreover, all the tyre manufacturers have worked very closely with the teams and through this have helped them improve the grip of the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. We’re very confident that by the end of the season we can still win the odd race and I’m very pleased that we offer the many GT fans in the American Le Mans Series such great sporting action.”
Victory in the GTC class in Mid-Ohio went to the double Porsche Supercup champion Jeroen Bleekemolen (Netherlands) with American Tim Pappas in the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
Round seven of the American Le Mans Series is contested on 18 August on the Road America race track at Elkhart Lake in the US state of Wisconsin.
1. Gavin/Milner (GB/USA), Chevrolet Corvette, 115 laps
2. Bergmeister/Long (D/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 115
3. Auberlen/J. Müller (USA/D), BMW E92 M3, 114
4. Henzler/Sellers (D/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 114
5. Hand/D. Müller (USA/D), BMW E92 M3, 114
6. Sharp/van Overbeek (USA/USA), Ferrari F458 Italia, 113
7. Holzer/Neiman (D/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 113
9. Maassen/Miller (D/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 112
1. Bleekemolen/Pappas (NL/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 108 laps
2. Pumpelly/Carter (USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 107
3. Huisman/Faieta (NL/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 107
1. Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner, Chevrolet, 93 points
2. Joey Hand, Dirk Müller, BMW, 81
3. Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia, Chevrolet, 80
4. Scott Sharp, Johannes van Overbeek, Ferrari, 65
5. Jörg Bergmeister, Patrick Long, Porsche, 55
6. Bill Auberlen/Jörg Müller, BMW, 53
7. Wolf Henzler, Bryan Sellers, Porsche, 45
8. Sascha Maassen, Bryce Miller, Porsche, 33
9. Seth Neiman, Porsche, 30
1. Chevrolet, 114 points
2. BMW, 94
3. Porsche, 85
4. Ferrari, 81
1. Corvette Racing, Chevrolet, 114 points
2. BMW Team RLL, BMW, 89
3. Extreme Speed Motorsports, Ferrari, 67
4. Flying Lizard Motorsports, Porsche, 66
5. Team Falken Tire, Porsche, 45
6. Paul Miller Racing, Porsche, 33