Acura, Ferrari to Challenge Porsche in Houston

by : Lauren Woods

As the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) moves to the Southwest for round number four, at the Lone Star Grand Prix of Houston this Saturday evening, Porsche teams involved in both the LMP2 and GT2 classes will be challenged by tough rivals in the industry. The competition for this season's championship is currently in high gear. Acura and Ferrari will be flaunting what they have to challenge the domineering Porsche.

In the LMP2 class, the Porsche RS Spyders have garnered class wins and an overall win in the past two street races. But the Acura prototype earned the pole at Long Beach and won the opening ALMS round at Sebring. The automaker is not only making a good name in the manufacture of quality auto parts like the but also the brand is also popular in the racing arena. In GT2, the 2007 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, which was new for the year, has finished second to the Ferrari in all three races. But Porsche tracks the manufacturers chase by only 12 points going into Houston.

Uwe Brettel, the Porsche Motorsport North America president, said that he would rather be way ahead in both categories, but he pointed out the close competition is good for the classes and good for the series. "We would like to be far ahead in the points - especially in the GT2 class - but the fans come to the races to see good racing, and Porsche customers teams have provided just that during the first three events. Patrick Long and Darren Law were less than five seconds short of winning Long Beach in their Flying Lizard Porsche, while Jorg Bergmeister in the Lizard team Porsche lost to the Ferrari by two-thousandths of a second at Sebring," said Brettel.

He added, "Our overall win by the Penske Porsche RS Spyder at Long Beach was exciting, but the Acura provided stiff competition by taking the pole and turning the fastest race lap." Brettel also pointed out that, with the street course in Houston being repaved for this year's event, and the race being run in April instead of July, the heat and roughness of the course which plagued teams a year ago should not be a factor this year.

In the previous year, both Penske Porsche RS Spyders did not finish the Houston event due to transmission problems linked to the beating of the cars took from the bumpy track surface. For Porsche, the Long Beach overall victory by Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard in the LMP2 class Penske Porsche RS Spyder was its second one-two overall finish in the ALMS. Additionally, it was the first time any manufacturer has swept the overall podium in ALMS.

In GT2, the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR team cars have finished second to the winning Ferrari at all three events so far this season, with the Jorg Bergmeister/Johannes van Overbeek number 45 racer second at Sebring and St. Petersburg, and the number 44 team car of Patrick Long and Darren Law second last weekend in Long Beach. Both cars will be in the hunt for their first win of the season at Houston, with team principal Seth Neiman replacing Long in the 44 Porsche.

It can be recalled that Porsche 911 GT3 R/RS/RSR family of race cars has won the ALMS GT/GT2 drivers and manufacturers class championship every year but one since the series start in 1999. Year 2006 was no exception as Jorg Bergmeister won the championship. The new milestone was achieved with the help of his co-driver Patrick Long and his Petersen/White Lightning Porsche GT3 RSR.