Le Mans Series, round 1 in Barcelona, Spain: Porsche RS Spyder sets pole in
LMP2 class at European premiere
Stuttgart. A good start for the Porsche RS Spyder in Europe: During qualifying for the first round of the Le Mans Series in Barcelona (Spain) the three RS Spyder post positions one, three and four in the LMP2 class.
Quickest amongst the 476 hp sports prototype RS Spyder, with 1.34.422 minutes, was the ex-Formula 1 driver Jos Verstappen (Netherlands) driving for the Van Merksteijn team. With this, Verstappen takes up the race from fifth on the grid. “Our car is good, quick, well balanced and reliable. We hope to keep up a good pace in the race, and most of all to get through the first corner without mishap. Once we have managed this we have the security of competing with a very good car.” For the season-opener, Verstappen is joined by team owner Peter van Merksteijn.
In the near-standard GT2 class, as well, Porsche pilots qualified second, third and fourth, thus securing a good starting position for the 1,000 kilometre race on the 4.655 kilometre Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona.
“All our expectations were totally met at the qualifying,” says a satisfied Hartmut Kristen, Head of Porsche Motorsport. “All the foundations for an exciting race have been laid – both with the RS Spyder in the LMP2 class and the Porsche GT3 RSR in the GT2 class. Above all, Jos Verstappen did a super job. The qualifying also underlined that the three Spyder teams have become well acquainted with the new sports prototype.”
Didier Theys qualified his RS Spyder run by the Swiss Horag Racing team third. The 51-year-old Belgian, whose sports car successes include victory at the Daytona 24 Hours, said: “It’s a complete lottery to get a free run when you have about 30 competitors and just a 20-minute qualifying. I had a bit of bad luck. To be honest qualifying well is important but it’s the race that counts. And it will be very long and, with a lot of traffic, it’ll be demanding.” Didier Theys starts the race for Horag Racing tomorrow. His team mates are Fredy Lienhard (Switzerland) and Jan Lammers (Netherlands).
Casper Elgaard qualified the Spyder fielded by the Danish Essex team. The triple Danish Touring Car Champion is also the start driver for Essex. “We are happy with fourth,” said Elgaard. “Both times when I went out with fresh tyres, my flying laps were ruined by another car skidding. But we have found a good set-up and I’m feeling confident for the race.” Team mate John Nielsen, who also doubles as team manager, is already nervous about the pit stops. “We have only ever driven in touring cars, so pit stops are new territory for us. That’s why we practised like mad in the last months,”
said the 1990 Le Mans winner.
In the GT2 class for near standard vehicles, Porsche works drivers Marc Lieb (Germany), Richard Lietz (Austria) and Richard Westbrook (Great
Britain) secured good starting positions for the race with second, third and fourth. “I’m pleased to be at least the fastest Porsche man,” said 27-year-old Lieb, who competes for the Felbermayr-Proton team. “We have chosen a fairly conservative set-up and should be well prepared for the race. Of course I’m annoyed that Ferrari was quicker!” Asserted Lieb’s team mate Alex Davison from Australia.
Factory driver colleague Richard Lietz (IMSA Performance Matmut) said: “I pulled out all stops and drove an immaculate lap. It will be hard to do this during the race. With almost 50 cars on this short circuit you have to keep a good watch in the rear view mirror in a GT2 car. The prototypes push really hard. Whatever happens, it will be a tough fight.” Teaming up with the 24-year-old is Frenchman Raymond Narac. The Porsche trio, Richard Westbrook, Lars Erik Nielsen (Denmark) and Allan Simonsen (Australia) from the Farnbacher Racing team secured fourth in the GT2 class.
The race runs over 215 laps and takes off tomorrow at 11.35 hrs. Eurosport broadcasts the race live from 11.15 to 12.00 hours; highlights will be shown from 23.00 hrs.
1. Stephane Sarrazin (F), Peugeot 908 HDI FAP (LMP1), 1:31.875 minutes; 2.
Marc Gene (E), Peugeot 908 HDI FAP (LMP1), 0.579 seconds behind; 3. Allan McNish (GB), Audi R10 TDI (LMP1), 1.375; 4. Stefan Mücke (D), Lola Aston Martin (LMP1), 1.859; 5. Jos Verstappen (NL), Porsche RS Spyder (LMP2), 2.547; 6. Alexandre Prémat (F), Audi R10 TDI (LMP1), 2.796; 7. Olivier Panis (F), Courage-Oreca Judd (LMP1), 3.203; 8. Jean-Christophe Boullion (F), Pescarolo Judd (LMP1), 3.766; 9. Xavier Pompidou (F), Lola B08/80 Coupe Judd (LMP2), 3.922; 10. Didier Theys (B), Porsche RS Spyder (LMP2), 4.281.
Facts and Figures
This is the Le Mans Series
Contested for the first time in 2004, the Le Mans Series (LMS) offers fans exciting sportscar racing. The regulations are based on the rules of the Le Mans 24 hour race. Five championship rounds will be contested this season on traditional circuits throughout Europe as well as an invitation race in Shanghai/China. The races run over a distance of 1,000 kilometres. The LMS is the European counterpart to the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) in the USA and Canada.
The starting field consists of two different sports vehicle categories:
Sports prototypes and standard sports cars. They are divided into four
LMP1 class: Sports prototypes with up to 750 hp and a minimum weight of 900 kilograms (in the ALMS: 750 hp/925 kilograms). Power to weight ratio:
approx. 1.2 kg/hp.
LMP2 class: Sports prototypes with around 475 hp (with normally-aspirated
engine) and an 825 kilogram minimum weight (in the ALMS: 475 hp/800 kg).
Power to weight ratio: approx 1.7 kg/hp. The Porsche RS Spyder competes in this class.
GT1 class: Heavily modified standard sportscars with up to 650 hp and a minimum weight of 1,125 – 1,325 kilograms (in the ALMS: 650 hp/1,125 –
GT2 class: Slightly modified standard sportscars with between 450 hp to 470 hp and a minimum weight of 1,125 – 1,325 hp kilograms (in the ALMS: 450 to 470 hp/1,125 – 1,325 kilograms). The Porsche 911 GT3 RSR competes in this class.
All race cars start together but are classified separately according to the class. This system ensures diverse and gripping racing with many overtaking manoeuvres. Points are only allocated for placings in each class.
Championship titles are awarded for drivers, manufacturers and teams in all four classes. Porsche works driver Marc Lieb won the driver title in the
GT2 class in 2005 and 2006.
For the RS Spyder, 2008 marks the first season in the Le Mans Series.