US race fans are looking forward to the return of the world’s fastest sports cars: After a break to prepare for the Le Mans 24 Hours, the American Le Mans Series takes off again on 7th July at Lime Rock in the US state of Connecticut. Lining up on the grid are the triple Lime Rock winners Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA) in the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR fielded by Flying Lizard Motorsports.
The Northeast Grand Prix is the only American Le Mans race in this part of the USA and has been a permanent fixture on the calendar since 2004. Many fans are happy to travel the two and a half hours from New York City. The reason the race is traditionally held on Saturday is that Sunday is reserved for a service in the small church which stands on one of the hills alongside the track.
The 2.478 kilometre circuit in the picturesque countryside of Connecticut is the shortest in the American Le Mans Series. The lap times are far under a minute. As a natural-terrain venue there are no real grandstands. On the grassy hills around the track most of the spectators bring along their own camping chairs and coolers to watch the race action.
The Porsche drivers
Porsche works drivers Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long, three-time winners of the race here in Lime Rock, contest the fiercely competitive GT class in the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR run by Flying Lizard Motorsports. Their factory pilot colleague Wolf Henzler shares the cockpit of the Falken Tire 911 GT3 RSR with Bryan Sellers (USA). At the wheel of the second Flying Lizard Porsche are Porsche works driver Marco Holzer (Germany) and the American team owner Seth Neiman. Driving the Paul Miller Racing 911 GT3 RSR entry are Sascha Maassen (Germany) and Bryce Miller (USA).
The Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
As the top model of Porsche Motorsport’s customer racing vehicles, the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR headed into the 2012 racing season with extensive modifications. Particularly noticeable is the widening of the body by 48 millimetres. The aero kit is supplemented by a new intake air ducting.
Joerg Bergmeister is the most successful driver at Lime Rock in the history of the American Le Mans Series. From 2006 to 2010, he clinched victory five times in a row for Porsche in the GT and later the GT2 class. He teamed up with Patrick Long for three of these wins, and one each with Wolf Henzler and Johannes van Overbeek. With the RS Spyder sports prototype, Porsche celebrated three class wins on this track as well as an overall victory in 2007.
The race in Lime Rock starts on Saturday, 7 July, at 15.05 hours local time (21.05 hrs CEST) and runs over 2:45 hours. The race is broadcast live on www.americanlemans.com. The GT qualifying will be broadcast on Friday from 21.25 hours CEST on www.porsche.com/alms-live.
Comments before the race
Hartmut Kristen, Head of Porsche Motorsport: “The first race after the long break for the 24 Hours of Le Mans is almost like a second start to the season for the teams. The Flying Lizard squad had to gather its strength after contesting Le Mans. For the Falken Tire team, who used the break to go testing in the USA, their main focus is to now put what they have learned from their tests to use in this tough competition. It will be exciting to see how the teams solve these tasks.”
Joerg Bergmeister: “Although I’ve often won here in Lime Rock it’s not actually my favourite track. There is simply too much traffic. When you’re competing on such a short circuit with 33 cars like last year, it’s not enough to just use clever tactics to drive and watch out for the others. If you want to finish without bruises on your car you’ve got to have a little luck on your side.”
Patrick Long: “Lots of cars and not a lot of room – that normally means a lot of safety car phases. That’s when we need our strategists. Particularly in Lime Rock, the pit stops have to be done fast and the right timing can be decisive between victory and defeat.”
Wolf Henzler: “You never get a chance to relax in Lime Rock. You’re constantly overtaking slower cars and you’re constantly being overtaken by faster sports prototypes. My team used Le Mans to test new tyres and, as my teammate Bryan Sellers said, we took a big step forward. I’m looking forward to seeing what the results are in Lime Rock.”
Marco Holzer: “Last year was my first race in Lime Rock. It was an interesting experience. Now I’m a bit more familiar with the track, and I’m pretty sure that should show in my lap times.”
The American Le Mans Series
The American Le Mans Series (ALMS) was created in 1999 for sports prototypes and GT vehicles. The field is divided into five classes that start together but are classified separately:
GT class: This most popular class amongst car manufacturers traditionally receives the most support: Slightly modified standard sports cars with 440 to 500 hp and a minimum weight of 1,245 kilograms (e.g. Porsche 911 GT3 RSR).
GTC class: This class is reserved for vehicles from one-make race series like the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
LMP1 class: Sports prototypes with up to 550 hp and a minimum weight of 900 kilograms.
LMP2 class: Sports prototypes with ca. 440 hp and a 900 kg minimum weight.
LMPC class: Prototype brand trophy series for the ORECA FLM 09.
Please note: Photos of the American Le Mans Series are available for accredited journalists from the Porsche Press Database under the internet address https://presse.porsche.de. On this website you can also activate the Porsche Motorsport SMS Info Service to receive the latest news and information from race tracks around the world via text messages.