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Sports Car Notes: Porsche Unveils Factory Drivers For TUSC’s Debut Season

| , RacinToday.com Monday, December 23 2013

Porsche announced its lineup for the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship on Monday. (Photo courtesy of Porsche North America)

The driver lineup for the factory-backed CORE Autosport Porsche 911 RSRs that will compete in the GT Le Mans class in the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship were announced on Monday.

Car no. 911 will be driven by Nick Tandy of Great Britain and Richard Lietz of Austria, while car no. 912 will be driven by American Patrick Long and Michael Christensen of Denmark.

Two additional Porsche factory drivers – Patrick Pilet of France and Germany’s Joerg Bergmeister  – will join the teams for the upcoming Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The no. 911 Tandy/Lietz/Pilet Porsche and the no. 912 Long/Christensen/Bergmeister entry will make their on-track debut at the ROAR Before the Rolex 24, January 3 – 5, 2014. The effort will utilize the new Porsche 911 RSR, the same as the 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans LM GTE-Pro class-winning entries.

The headquarters for the program will be at Porsche Motorsport North America in Santa Ana, Calif. CORE Autosport, Rock Hill, S.C., will act as the competition partner for the program.

There is a wealth of endurance racing championship experience with this driver lineup, with Lietz scoring class wins at both the Rolex 24 (2012) and the 24 Hours of Le Mans (2010, 2013); and Patrick Long winning his class at the Rolex 24 (2009), 12 Hours of Sebring (2005), 24 Hours of Le Mans (2004, 2007), and Petit Le Mans (2005, 2006, 2007).

Christensen, in his first year as a Porsche Junior in 2013, finished sixth in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup series season standings with one event win in addition to the Rookie of the Year title. Tandy finished the 2013 American Le Mans Series with a flare by co-driving the Team Falken Tire Porsche to the GT class victory at Petit Le Mans.

As for the Rolex 24 third driver additions, Bergmeister and Pilet are endurance veterans as well. Bergmeister has won the Rolex 24 (2002, 2003, 2009), 12 Hours of Sebring (2004, 2005, 2008), 24 Hours of Le Mans (2004), and Petit Le Mans 2003 – 2007). Pilet, a former Porsche Carrera Cup France champion, has a win at the 24 Hours of Dubai to his credit.

The 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona will take place January 25 – 26, 2014.

The new 911 RSR is based on the seventh generation of the iconic 911 sports car and follows in the footsteps of its successful predecessor, the 911 GT3 RSR. The new 911 RSR featured a win in its very first 24 Hours of Le Mans appearance in 2013. As with the production vehicle, the wheelbase grew by about four inches. A new development from Porsche Motorsport is the lightweight racing gearbox with the six forward gears selectable via paddles on the steering wheel. The 470 hp, 4.0-litre six-cylinder boxer engine was taken from the predecessor and optimized for 2014.

One of the development priorities of the new 911 RSR was finding a better weight distribution balance. The center of gravity is also significantly lower than that of its predecessor. Carbon fiber played a crucial role in the new design. The front and rear aero components, front and rear lids, doors, underbody, wheel arches, rear wing, dashboard and center console are constructed from the very light and strong material. Moreover, all windows are made of particularly thin and light polycarbonate. Also contributing to the weight reduction is the lithium-ion battery now available on many GT road-legal models.

The look of the new 911 RSR is dominated by the flared aero components and the deep cooling air intakes at the front. With a new air ducting, the radiator is now centrally-located in the front and even more effective than in the previous model. At the same time, the cockpit air-conditioning became more efficient. The quick-change concept of the body parts was specially adapted for endurance racing, allowing for easier maintenance and shorter repair times. The front end, front lid and rear panel are fitted with quick release systems and can be replaced within seconds.

Low positioned static cornering lights provide improved vision and enhanced safety during the night. The reflective labeling and anti-glare lighting of the control elements in the cockpit help ensure optimal legibility in the dark. The arrangement of the switches on the new steering wheel and the pilot-oriented center console were designed in co-operation with the ten Porsche works drivers. All works drivers took part in the design of the 911 RSR contributing their vast experience in GT racing.

In order to keep the engineers in the pits up-to-date with all relevant vehicle data, the live telemetry transmits more than 200 different measurements straight to the pit wall stand via an antenna on the roof. Additionally, all data is stored on a memory card onboard the vehicle.

Stevenson Motorsports announced its return to IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Series (CTSCC) competition in 2014 on Monday.

The team, which is owned by longtime entrants Johnny and Susan Stevenson, will target a run to the championship with the No. 6 Stevenson Automotive Camaro driven by Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell as well as the No. 9 Stevenson Automotive Camaro set to be shared by Andy Lally and Matt Bell.

Stevenson Motorsports had a record-breaking season in 2013, taking four Rolex GT Class victories, securing the 2013 North American Endurance Championship in Rolex GT Class competition, and scoring two wins on the way to taking second in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge championship for the second year in a row.

With a clear goal of delivering results, Stevenson has concentrated efforts on the CTSCC with a strong two-car line up.

“This is an outstanding driver line up, really one of the best groups I’ve ever had the chance to work with,” said team manager Mike Johnson. “These four guys not only have great speed and smarts in the car, but they also have a long history with Stevenson. The Continental Tire championship is one of the toughest categories in racing and we know how important it is to have a strong group of guys, all working in the same direction. Hopefully with this line-up, we can deliver results and come out on top at the end of the year.”

A driver roster that includes so much history of working together is set to only better position Stevenson in 2014.

“I first met Mike Johnson in 1996 when we were racing against each other in USF2000 and we just hit it off, and became friends,” said Lally, who first drove for Johnson in 2001 as they won the Rolex 24 and the GRAND-AM Rolex Series SRP2 Championship. “It has been a long time since we’ve raced together (2005), so I’m happy to be teaming up with him again as we’ve had a lot of success in the years that we’ve worked together. I tell everyone that the Continental Tire Series is just incredible–some of the best knock down, drag out racing there is with really good teams and very strong drivers. It’s a blast and I’m very excited to be coming back to the series to race for Stevenson Motorsports.”

“All of the Stevenson guys have worked very hard over the off season and I’m really looking forward to 2014,” said Bell, who scored second in the 2012 and 2013 Championships for Stevenson Motorsports. “I’ve raced against him for years, so I am excited about co-driving with Andy (Lally) this year and I know he will have a big impact on our effort. The Stevenson guys do such a great job and I’m very much looking forward to being a factor all year long and going for the championship title.”

“Obviously I am delighted to be joining Stevenson Motorsports again for 2014 in what will be my seventh season driving for the team,” offered Liddell. “We have had an incredible run over the last six years and the team has had considerable success with the GS program in the past. It’s great to welcome Andrew (Davis) back into the team and with our superb GT crew moving straight across, by the time we get to the first race it should feel like ‘business as usual’!”

“I am thrilled and honored to be asked to be a part of this program,” said Davis. “This is a big homecoming for me, to be back with Johnny (Stevenson) and Mike (Johnson), it is just an incredible opportunity. It’s remarkable how much of the team is the same group as when I last raced with them and I think that’s going to be a big part of our strength again this year. I’m also really excited to be sharing the car with Robin. We’ve had some great seasons together and are good friends so hopefully we can pick up where we left off last. CTSCC is just so competitive and to have a team like this behind me, I am very excited.”

Park Place Motorsports announced that Dr. Jim Norman will co-drive the full IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season with fellow champion driver Craig Stanton.

Stanton and Norman, the reigning Rolex 24 At Daytona and GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GX champion, will co-drive the No. 71 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 America that will be sponsored by a soon-to-be-announced medical technology partner for the full season. Additional team drivers for next month’s season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona will be named in the near future.

“Craig was at the top of our recruit list for a handful of reasons,” said Norman, a past Rookie of The Year in both the GRAND-AM Rolex and Continental Tire series. “Of course, he is fast but he also has the wisdom and knowledge to be a team leader on and off the track. It was also very important to our healthcare sponsors to have a spokesperson representing their brand that is in great shape and understands the importance of personal health. In many ways Craig is the perfect fit for our team and for me personally.”

| , RacinToday.com Monday, December 23 2013
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