Like many of the other top sportscar teams Porsche have descended upon Sebring, Florida of the 59th running of the 12 Hours of Sebring with five Porsche 911 RSR among a heaving GTE class that brings together the best of European and American endurance racing.
This season the 12 Hours of Sebring doubles as the first round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC), the five classes set to start the endurance race producing an entry of nearly 60 cars, 24 in the GTE class.
The Porsche contingent will be led by champions from either side of the Atlantic. Le Mans Series champions Proton Competition bring a single car, with a driving challenge led by Porsche works driver Richard Lietz. Gianluca Roda, the 2010 winner of the Porsche Cup – the prize for the best “private” Porsche racer – and Christian Reid complete the driving threesome.
Marc Lieb, who partnered Lietz to the European successes crosses over to ALMS champions Flying Lizard Motorsports, where he joins with Jorg Bergmeister and Patrick Long, the team's regular drivers. Lieb complete a trio of Porsche works men in the car, immediately giving it the theoretical honour of leading the Stuttgart manufacturer's Sebring tilt.
Though the 12 Hours' crown is a prestigious title in its own right – even more so with the ILMC swelling the field – Bergmeister is already looking at the best way to win a third consecutive class title in the ALMS. “It's the toughest race of the season,” he says. “In Sebring, extra points are awarded, so that alone is enough to make a good result especially important. A retirement here would be a real handicap in your bid for the title. We've done a lot of testing and are well prepared. The improvements on our 911 GT3 RSR are very promising. But it'll be in qualifying at the earliest when we see if we've done everything right.”
New Porsche recruit Marco Holzer continues his “dream” start to the season, following up the Rolex 24 at Daytona with his first racing trip to Sebring, acting as third driver in the other of the Lizards' cars. Also set to make his first start at Sebring is the reigning Porsche Supercup champion Rene Rast who forms part of Paul Miller Racing's driving staff.
Wolf Henzler ensures a Porsche backed driver will be in each of the five 911s, joining former Porsche Junior driver Martin Ragginger in Team Falken's distinctively liveried entry.
Porsche's interest runs further than the GTE class. Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard – both Porsche works drivers – will spend Sebring racing for the overall win with Audi, while the GT Challenge class sees nine 911 GT3 Cup Porsches do battle in a single make class.