Grand-Am Series, round 8 in Birmingham, USA
After four wins this season, the Porsche pilots Dirk Werner (Germany) and Leh Keen (USA) travel to the eighth round of the American Grand-Am Series in the Barber Motorsports Park as clear leaders. With the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup fielded by Farnbacher Loles Racing, they are determined to continue their success streak in the GT class on Sunday on the demanding circuit in the US state of Alabama and celebrate victory number five.
While Dirk Werner and Leh Keen could take a major step forward in their hunt for the title with victory in the ‘Deep South’ of the USA, Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France) have more humble goals. The Porsche works drivers, who contest the Daytona Prototype class with a Penske Racing Porsche Riley, are still waiting for their first win of the season. After claiming two third positions in Millville and Watkins Glen, they were hampered by gearbox problems recently in Daytona. In the championship they currently rank fourth but are still within striking distance of the leader.
‘Nothing is lost yet. The season is still long and we have to try to keep in contact with the top three. We don’t give up that easily,’ said an optimistic Timo Bernhard. With Romain Dumas he tested on the 3.83 kilometre circuit last December. ‘We did well then and I think we’ve found a good set up for the race.’ The track follows the roller coaster landscape and is anything but easy. ‘If you find the right line you can definitely make up a lot of time. On the other hand you have to have complete faith in your car – the many semi fast to fast corners are not for the faint-hearted.’
Making the situation even more difficult is the typical heat and humidity of the southern states. The Porsche pilots got a small taste of this at the wheel of their black #12 Porsche Riley at the Daytona race. ‘We had a cockpit temperature of 60 degrees Celsius,’ said Romain Dumas. ‘That was tough, but Birmingham will be even tougher. After such a race you know why you do so much fitness training during winter.’
Two more Porsche Rileys are fielded by the US customer squad Brumos Racing. David Donohue (USA) and Darren Law (USA), winners of the Daytona 24 hour race, compete in the number 58 racer. Their teammates are Joao Barbosa (Portugal) and JC France (USA), whose # 59 Daytona Prototype is also powered by a 510 hp Porsche six-cylinder engine. Spirit of Daytona Racing, a private team, races a Porsche Coyote.
Traditionally, Porsche is strongly represented in the GT class. Tackling the race alongside Dirk Werner and Leh Keen, Porsche works driver Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Eric Lux (USA) share driving duties at the wheel of the second Porsche 911 GT3 Cup run by Farnbacher Loles Racing. The TRG customer team fields four 911 GT3 Cup sports cars.
The race in Birmingham takes off on Sunday, 18th July, at 14.00 hours local time (21.00 CEST) and runs over 250 miles.