Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz will kick off the new Le Mans Series season, defending their LMGT2 title at the head of four Porsches in the ultra-competitive class.
“Our aim is to defend the title of course, but it won't be easy,” says Marc Lieb. “I reckon our class is the toughest of the whole field. This makes the race even closer and more dramatic. We face new rivals this season and five or six of those cars are good for a win. And if you take a look at the driver pairings you'll see just how difficult it's going to be to win the title. With just five rounds to the championship you can't afford a DNF if you want to secure the title.”
Lieb and Lietz, both works drivers for the German manufacturer, won the class last year for Team Felbermayr-Proton by a single point and the pair will once more be at the wheel of a Porsche 997 GT3 RSR for the team at the 8 Hours of Le Castellet this weekend.
The #77 car will be one of four examples of the 997 at the French track with a further pair of full works drivers two more Porsche Junior drivers spread between the entries.
American Patrick Long will share the second, no.88, Felbermayr-Proton car with Christian Ried and Martin Ragginger whose fellow junior driver Marco Holzer will drive the Prospeed Competition entry along with Briton Richard Westbrook as the Belgian team move to the LMS from the FIA GT series.
2010 will be 21-year-old Holzer's first full season in the LMS after coming up through the Carrera Cup championships and together with Westbrook, who won the GT2 class in the FIA GT series last year, was immediately on the pace in testing.
“I can hardly wait to get going,” Holzer bursts. “I even found the test days exciting. For our team they were very important to familiarise ourselves a little to the new series. Many things are new for me. Firstly, I have to get used to sharing the circuit with many significantly faster prototypes. You have to be constantly on full alert.”
The final of the four Porsches will also have works involvement, with Patrick Pilet joining fellow Frenchman Raymond Narac in the IMSA Performance car hoping to reprise the sort of form that saw them win the Dubai 24 Hours in January.
However, they will come up against strong opposition; facing lone entries from BMW, Aston Martin and Spyker as well as six Ferraris including three from the factory backed AF Corse squad which can boast former F1 drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Jean Alesi.