Today I found myself at Downtown Porsche in Toronto’s Distillery District getting up close and personal with this incredible LMP2 Porsche RS Spyder racecar.
In town for the ALMS race this Sunday at the legendary Mosport International Raceway northeast of the city, Porsche factory drivers, Sascha Maassen (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA), and members of the 2007 ALMS championship-winning Penske Team were on hand to answer questions from local Porsche aficionados, motorsport junkies and the media alike.
The RS Spyder was a dominant vehicle in the 2007 American Le Mans Series (ALMS). It won 11 of 12 races, including eight overall wins. But, in order to exploit the scope provided by the LMP2 (Le Mans Prototype 2) class regulations to the fullest, Porsche had to completely revamp the RS Spyder for the 2008 season. The result is a design that ensures the engine, transmission, chassis, suspension and aerodynamics all combine to produce a harmonious overall package.
So far this season it’s been working as the red and yellow road rocket has won four of the six ALMS races run this year with the same engine that helped win the championship in 2006 and 2007.
Hoping to three-peat, Porsche recently installed direct fuel injection on the potent 3.4-litre V8 motor that sees power output rise from 476 to 503 hp at 10,000 rpm. Maximum torque also rose from 273 lb.-ft. at 7,500 rpm to 284 lb.-ft. at 8,500 rpm.
Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France) travel to Canada as title defenders and current points’ leaders in their #7 Porsche RS Spyder.
The highly successful team of Roger Penske fields a second RS Spyder in Mosport with the starting number 6, piloted by Sascha Maassen and Patrick Long, who presently rank third in the championship.
The Penske Team hopes to extend its points lead in round eight. Porsche also holds the points’ lead in the manufacturers’ classification (chassis and engine) with Penske Racing leading the team classification.
During the event, Patrick Long said he’s looking forward to this weekend’s race. He also said the toughest competition this year is coming from the Acura-powered LMP2 cars of Andretti Green and, interestingly enough, Patron Highcroft Racing (see post below).
The 4.102-kilometre-long Mosport circuit is one of the quickest and most difficult on the ALMS calendar and drivers rightfully treat it with respect. Check your local listings or head on out to watch the action unfold in person.