Porsche links up with Penske for prototype

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LMP2 racer to up the ante for German marque in the ALMS

Porsche has teamed up with the American motorsport empire of Roger Penske to field a new sportsracer in the American Le Mans Series — and it will make its race debut later this year.

Built to contest the secondary LMP2 class, the new car will be the first purpose-built Porsche racer to compete since the 911 GT1 of 1998.

Penske Motorsports has a rich history with the Weissach marque, including back-to-back Can-Am titles in 1972-73 with the 917/10 and 917/30 monsters respectively. It also prepared and fielded the 911 RSRs for the inaugural International Race of Champions series in ’73. The new strain is expected to participate in the final two ALMS rounds of ’05, kicking off with the Petit Le Mans race at Road Atlanta in October. There are no details as yet on the likely powerplant for the car or possible driver line-ups, although Porsche has several big-name sportscar aces on its books.

Peter Schwarzenbauer, president of Porsche Cars North America, said: “Our American racing customers have made it clear to us that they would like to move up several levels in the ALMS competition. We believe this new Porsche prototype programme will provide the perfect means to do so and will generate added enthusiasm for sportscar racing in America, especially with Penske Motorsports.”

It will also likely prove a useful source of revenue — the existing 911 GT3 model has raked in plenty of cash, along with 49 ALMS class wins and 50 poles over the past six years.

There are no plans to compete in the Le Mans 24 Hours race in the immediate future, although Porsche insiders have not ruled the prospect out should the car prove competitive elsewhere.