Tag Archives: Porsche GT3

Motorsports Mondial

Ganassi takes Daytona Glory!

With 23 hours logged at the 2011 Rolex 24 At Daytona it would be natural to assume the drivers would be looking to preserve their equipment in order to make it to the finish, but here at Daytona International Speedway it is the exact opposite.  With four DP cars in the hunt for victory, and only one hour left to race, anything can happen as the contenders fight through traffic in pursuit of the lead, occasionally swapping paint while doing so.  The fight intensifies as time runs out and it becomes do-or-die for the front runners.

Among the 18 DP entries, the #02 Telmex/Target BMW Riley had set the pace and led the race since 12:50 pm.  Giving chase was the #9 Action Express Racing Porsche/Riley followed closely by the #01 Target/Telmex BMW Riley, with the #23 United Autosports car also in contention.

“Before I got in the car I discussed what might be our best options,” said Scott Pruett (Sacramento/Auburn, Calif.) of his last stint in the #01 car.  “We knew we had a strong car but you cannot really over think things, you just have to get in the car and go as fast as you can.  All we did as drivers is keep that car as clean as possible.  If you look at it now you will see an immaculate race car even after racing for 24 hours, that’s what it takes to win.”

“This is the big race of the year and everyone comes here to win,” said Pruett having just become a four-time Rolex 24 At Daytona winner (1994, ’07, ’08, ‘11).  “We had the lead toward the end and all we had to do is run smart.  Our car is very fast coming off a yellow-to-green flag.  I was glad that Grand-Am was able to go to green at the end.  I hate when a race finishes under yellow, it’s just a big disappointment for the fans.  I pushed as hard as I could on that last lap.  It takes a team effort and the team starts off by our boss Chip Ganassi and of course the mechanics.  There is so much effort and energy given before we even come here.  The #01 car has finished every lap at the Rolex 24 At Daytona for the last five years so that gives a true testimony for what the Ganassi organization is all about.”

Sharing the driving duty in the winning #01 car was Memo Rojas (Mexico City, Mexico), Graham Rahal (Columbus, Ohio/Indianapolis, In.) and Joey Hand (Sacramento, Calif.).  Rahal was eight years old when his father, Bobby Rahal, won the 1981 Rolex 24 At Daytona.  “I grew up looking at Dad’s Rolex and trying to imagine having one of my own.  I never imagined I would have one so soon.”

Capturing the attention of all in attendance was the remarkable come-from-behind performance in the GT Class as the #67 TRG Porsche GT3 went from starting the race in last position, to take a convincing lead in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.  The pole-winning qualifying time of driver Andy Lally (Northport, N.Y./Dacula, Ga.), which set a new lap record, had been disallowed after qualifying.  As the 24-hour endurance challenge went on, it was rumored that the clutch on the #67 car had become problematic, causing the drivers to lift a bit early going into turn one and the bus stop chicane – adding to the drama of the GT race.

“The big problem of course was the matter of losing the clutch with 17 hours to go in the race and that makes things very difficult as you can imagine,” said Lally about the problems with the #67 car.  “What it means is there cannot be any mistakes made.  If you spin out for some reason and have to be towed back to the pits you’re going to lose three or four laps and you might as well just pack it up and go home because your race is done.”

In the end, the lead was converted to a win for the team that included drivers Brendan Gaughan (Las Vegas, Nev.), Wolf Henzler (Nuertingen, Germany) and Spencer Pumpelly (Arlington, Va./Suwanee, Ga.).

“It’s an incredible thing that we did. . . to drive so many hours without incident and shifting gears without a clutch,” said Lally.  “We actually had to knock it out of gear and then match the revs of the engine with the speed that the rear tires were going in order to get the car into gear and to do that for so long is amazing.  It was pretty tricky but we all seemed to figure out how to do it.  This is absolutely the greatest feeling there is to win the Rolex 24 At Daytona.”

For many, and two in particular, the 49th edition of this classic 24-hour endurance race was a watershed event.

“It’s been my dream to be on the podium at the Rolex 24 At Daytona,” said actor Patrick Dempsey who was overwhelmed with emotion after taking the podium with a third-place finish in the GT class driving the #40 Mazda RX-8.  Dempsey was making his fourth career appearance in this edition of the legendary endurance race, having seen his previous best-finish last year with a sixth.  His post-race remarks included joking that he would be retiring from the television show Gray’s Anatomy as a result of his performance here so that he could race more frequently.  “Now there’s a headline,” he said before seriously addressing the contributions of the rest of his team.  “This is a team sport,” said Dempsey.  “We have a lot of people who made it possible for us to be here.”

“This 24-hour race went down to the green white checkered flag,” said Italian racer Max Papis who resides in Miami, Florida, after finishing third in the DP in the #9 Action Express Racing Porsche Riley.  “In my 17 years at the Rolex 24 At Daytona, I never thought I would see it.  For sure, to open the season like this…I’m enjoying a lot what we’ve done today.  To me it was one of the best races I’ve ever been part of.”

Motorsports Mondial

Sheikh Salman sets his sights on GT3 Cup title

Bahrain. Bahrain’s Sheikh Salman Bin Rashid Al Khalifa has set his sights firmly on a title triumph in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, which launches its 2010-11 season this weekend alongside the deciding round of the Formula One World Championship in Abu Dhabi.

Sheikh Salman grabbed pole position for seven of 12 rounds last season but managed only one race victory as Saudi Arabia’s Prince Abdulaziz Al Faisal dominated the new one-make series.

Looking ahead to the start of the new campaign in the UAE capital, the 2009-10 championship runner-up said: “After last season I’m focused on winning. I’ve prepared well, I’m in very good shape and I can’t wait for the new season to start.”

The first two rounds of the new season on Saturday and Sunday are the official support races for the 2010 Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit.

Sheikh Salman earned a place in the record books there 12 months ago when his victory in the Supercars Middle East Championship made him the first ever race winner at the venue.

Sheikh Salman and the rest of the 16-driver line-up will be at the wheel of the brand new 450 horsepower 2011 911 GT3 Cup car which will be making its first competitive appearance anywhere in the world in Abu Dhabi.

If he can make a solid start in the UAE he will certainly fancy his chances when the series moves on to his home track at Bahrain International Circuit for rounds Rounds 3 and 4 on December 2-3, with Rounds 7 and 8 to follow there on 18-19 February.

In addition to action in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, the 2010-11 series, which is sponsored by Michelin and Mobil 1, also takes in Reem International Circuit outside Riyadh, where it made history last season as the first international circuit race event ever staged in the Kingdom.

Motorsports Mondial

Porsche series set for big new season launch at Yas Marina Circuit

Andre Oosthuizen, Marketing Director of Porsche Middle East and Africa, introduces the new Porsche GT3 Cup car.

Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge drivers prepare for season’s start at Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Dubai. The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East heads for a big new season curtain raiser in Abu Dhabi, with the first rounds on November 13-14 forming the official support races for the 2010 Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit.

Launched last December, the exciting one-make series made a big impact in its inaugural season which saw Saudi Prince Abdulaziz Al Faisal record nine race victories in 12 rounds to become the first GT3 Cup Challenge champion in the Middle East.

Porsche’s long and illustrious record of involvement in motor sport was underlined today during an official press conference at Dubai Autodrome to preview the second season of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East.

On display alongside the latest version of the Porsche GT3 Cup car, which is making a world premiere in the series, were some of the most famous racing models ever built, including Porsche’s first car designed for motorsport more than half a century ago, the 550 Spyder built in 1954. All in all, six cars were flown to the UAE from their permanent home at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, Germany for a rare public appearance on 6th November at Porsche Centre Dubai.

Fast forward to today’s latest state-of-the-art Porsche racing machinery, the 450 horsepower 2011 GT3 Cup car was driven for the first time in Dubai yesterday when Prince Abdulaziz and several other drivers from the 2010-11 season starting line-up had their initial test sessions behind the wheel.

“Like the drivers, we’re all excited about the new season ahead, especially after the excellent start we enjoyed last year which exceeded our expectations,” said Andre Oosthuizen, Marketing Director, Porsche Middle East and Africa.

“Porsche is proud of its racing heritage, and we’re particularly delighted to be able to showcase some of the classic cars which have enabled us to develop such an outstanding reputation over the last five decades.”

“At the same time, we’re delighted to introduce the latest GT3 Cup car. We will be the first region to put the new car through its paces in our series which, we believe has all the right ingredients to go from strength to strength in the years ahead.”

Walter Lechner, the former racing star now driving the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East as head of Austrian-based Lechner Racing, said: “I used to drive Porsche cars at Le Mans, but I’m just as excited to be part of this championship as a manager. And I have to admit I was a little jealous of the drivers when they went out in their new cars for the first time yesterday.”

“The 911 GT3 Cup car offers outstanding performance and we look forward to breathtaking fights in a competitive second season.”

Following the opening two rounds in Abu Dhabi, the 2010-11 series, which is sponsored by Michelin and Mobil 1, continues with further rounds split between Yas Marina Circuit, Bahrain International Circuit and Reem International Circuit outside Riyadh, where it made history last season as the first international circuit race event ever staged in the Kingdom.

While he dominated the inaugural championship, Prince Abdulaziz expects a tough title defence. Among those carrying serious title ambitions of their own are last year’s runner-up, Bahrain’s Sheikh Salman bin Rashid Al Khalifa, Saudi teenage sensation Fahad Algosaibi, who twice drove into the record books during the 2009-10 season, and Abu Dhabi’s Khaled Al Qubaisi.

Determined to make a strong start to the new season on home territory, Al Qubaisi gained invaluable experience in the summer competing in the Porsche Mobil 1 Super Cup and aims to add consistency to his obvious natural pace. He will be joined by two other UAE drivers. as Ibrahim Salloum and Musaed Al Murar make their series debut in Abu Dhabi.

Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East 2010-2011 race calendar:

Rounds 1 and 2

13-14 November 2010 Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Rounds 3 and 4

2-3 December 2010                Bahrain International Circuit, Manama, Bahrain

Rounds 5 and 6

19-20 January 2011                Reem International Circuit, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Rounds 7 and 8

18-19 February 2011               Bahrain International Circuit, Manama, Bahrain

Rounds 9 and 10

TBC                                         TBC

Rounds 11 and 12

8-9 April 2011                          Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

For more information and images on the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East please visit www.gt3cupchallenge-me.com