Grand glory for Porsche

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

Current page

172

Current page

173

Current page

174

Current page

175

Current page

176

Current page

177

Current page

178

Current page

179

Current page

180

A ferocious last stint by Juan Pablo Montoya made for an enthralling final two hours to this year’s Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. After a magnificent duel Montoya’s Lexus-powered Riley Daytona Prototype was beaten by David Donohue’s similar car, whose more powerful Porsche engine enabled the 42-year-old veteran to score the biggest win of his career.

Donohue is the son of the great Mark Donohue, who won the Daytona enduro 40 years ago aboard a Penske Racing Lola-Chevrolet. David is lead driver of the two-car Brumos Porsche team based in nearby Jacksonville, which had not won the famous race for 30 years prior to its success in late January.

Donohue’s co-drivers were Buddy Rice, Darren Law and Antonio García, while Montoya was sharing one of Chip Ganassi’s two Riley-Lexus with defending Grand-Am champions Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas. Just five seconds further back in third place was the second Brumos Porsche-Riley driven by Hurley Haywood/J C France/João Barbosa/Terry Borcheller, while Wayne Taylor’s Ford-Dallara driven by Taylor/Max Angelelli/Brian Friselle/Pedro Lamy took fourth, also on the lead lap.

Victory came as a great boost to the Brumos operation, run by veteran crew chief Mike Colluci, and it stood despite the winning car being found to be more than 12lbs underweight at the post-race inspection. Five championship points were docked from the team, its drivers and the manufacturer by way of punishment, in addition to a $5000 fine for Brumos, leaving Ganassi, Montoya, Pruett and Rojas to head the standings.

Brumos has been on an uphill climb in recent years and victory at Daytona showed that its Porsches will be serious title contenders in 2009. The team has been helped in its quest, of course, by Grand-Am’s desire to see a Porsche in the winner’s circle, which has led to the manufacturer getting a break this year over its Lexus, Ford and Pontiac rivals.

Grand-Am champions in 2007 and ’08, Pruett and Alex Gurney were particularly vocal about the situation at Daytona. The pair have been lobbying officials to level the playing field for the rest of the season, but neither had much hope that Grand-Am will grant them any breaks. With Porsche pulling out of the rival American Le Mans Series and Penske Racing joining Brumos in Grand-Am with Porsche-powered cars, series bosses hope to pull the manufacturer into focusing its American sports car efforts on the Daytona Prototype series.

Such will be the case for this year and possibly 2010 too, but Porsche is expected to return to the ALMS in 2011 with an LMP1 car powered by a 2-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged engine. Grand-Am will enjoy Porsche and Penske’s participation, and the series hopes to take advantage of the ALMS’s weakened state to establish a stronger footing for itself in America in the next year or two.

Penske’s Porsche-Riley, driven by Timo Bernhard/Romain Dumas/Ryan Briscoe, qualified second at Daytona. The car was in the thick of the battle for the lead until fuel feed problems and a CV joint failure dropped it down the field. Bernhard/Dumas/Briscoe eventually finished sixth, 18 laps behind the winner.

It will be interesting to see how the season unfolds. Grand-Am passes through a three-month hiatus before resuming at Virginia International Raceway at the end of April. Will the Brumos and Penske Riley-Porsches continue to be the cars to beat? Or will the Ganassi, Wayne Taylor, Gainsco and Mike Shank teams bounce back into the spotlight, with or without Grand-Am’s help?

At Sebring the day after the Rolex 24 we were treated to the unveiling of Acura’s innovative new ARX-02a LMP1 car. It’s incredible to report that the Acura and Rob Dyson’s Lola-Mazda LMP2 are the only really new racing cars we’ll see in action in the United States this year! The great spec car plague in Indycars, Grand-Am and NASCAR has purged us of this pleasure and emphasised the point that the ALMS is one of the few places we can enjoy the sport as a crucible of new things.

Designed and constructed by Nick Wirth’s Wirth Research group in the UK and Honda Performance Development in California, the Acura is powered by a 4-litre, naturally-aspirated V8 producing around 620bhp. An intriguing feature of the car is that its 18-inch front wheels and Michelin tyres are the same dimension as the rears, requiring a complex power-steering system and producing close to a 50/50 front to rear weight distribution.

“The more rubber you get on the ground with a racing car, the faster it’s going to go,” said Wirth. “There were a number of factors conspiring against us to make this work. The first is that big front wheels are terrible for aerodynamics on any racing car, whether it’s a Formula 1 or an LMP1. When you put big front tyres on a sports car it tends to kill downforce, particularly front downforce. It’s certainly one of the most challenging and exciting projects I’ve ever been involved with in motor racing.”

The Acura has been testing since early December and will be raced this year by Gil de Ferran’s team and Duncan Dayton’s Highcroft Racing, making its debut at the season-opening Sebring 12 Hours in March. De Ferran is the lead driver of his team, partnered regularly by Simon Pagenaud, with IRL champion Scott Dixon joining them for Sebring and possibly Petit Le Mans in October. Highcroft’s regular drivers are David Brabham and Scott Sharp, with Dario Franchitti joining them as the team’s third driver at Sebring.

“One of the things that jumped out when I first drove the Acura is that it has a lot of grip in corners and under braking,” said de Ferran. “Our biggest challenge so far has been how to make the best use of the grip. Making the decision to have the same size tyres all round has unearthed a lot of engineering challenges and problems that didn’t previously exist.
“From a driver’s standpoint there’s a lot you need to adapt to. We’re trying to create what could arguably be called the best-handling sports cars ever made.”

Meanwhile Porsche’s withdrawal of its RS Spyders from the ALMS has resulted in Rob Dyson making a new start this year with a pair of Lola-Mazda LMP2 cars. The new Lola is a closed coupé and only one car ran at the Sebring test in January. But Dyson is enthusiastic about the project and the Lola certainly looks the part – small, nimble and seemingly capable of the occasional giant-killing act.

This year’s Sebring 12 Hours should be a fine race, with the new Audi R15 making its debut against a pair of Peugeots in preparation for the Le Mans 24 Hours. It’s unfortunate that this will be the only time this year that Audi and Peugeot will race against the new Acura. The Acura may compete with the Audi and Peugeot on speed, but the ARX-02a is a complicated car and is unlikely to run trouble-free in its first race, particularly on the punishing Sebring track.

Without any Audis or Penske or the Dyson Porsche Spyders, the rest of the season will surely prove challenging for the ALMS. To both the racing enthusiast and the wider world, Acura vs Mazda is not exactly Audi vs Porsche. Nor does there appear to be much depth to the slim field of ALMS prototypes, and series officials hope Porsche will return in 2010 or 2011 with its expected new car. Still, the ALMS is at least keeping the flame of innovation alive in the spec car-dominated world of American racing.

You may also like

Related products