June 3, 2011 - Victory at the Nordschleife and on to Le Mans
I’m home right now for a few days after a monumental first victory for the 911 GT3 R Hybrid at the Nürburgring Nordschleife VLN race. We were able to grab an overall victory last weekend and it’s still just an unbelievable high that we are all sharing. Le Mans starts this Sunday with technical scrutineering, so there’s not too much time to celebrate but it was an extra special race to win because it’s our final run with the Hybrid before the granddaddy of them all, the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring June 23-26.
It’s been a long month since I last wrote in. We tested over 40 hours of running in succession at Nardo in the south of Italy with the Hybrid. There’ve been a couple of good results in World Challenge; we’ve been able to claw back quite a few points after missing one race with a date conflict. And there’ve been a couple of fun and exciting PR events in between. Standouts for me were being in New York for the auto show and doing a Porsche Design Poggenpohl kitchen event with Top Chef alum Angelo Sosa. Cooking is definitely not a regular thing for me so it was fun to see the world through somebody else’s eyes and meet a great guy.
Also we have a story that will be in an upcoming issue of a magazine called Paved. It’s a top road bike magazine and for you guys that are regular readers of that magazine, you’ll know who Joe Parkin is. It’s a neat story with some of the members of Team Garmin Cervélo, one of the top Tour de France style bike racing teams. Christian VandeVelde is a friend of mine and it was great to have him and a few other greats out to the race track for a little bike/car testing and plenty of laughs. The story will be in print soon.
Back to hard core business. Round 2 of the ALMS series at Long Beach didn’t go to plan but we made some good strides with the car. We still have a pretty big gap to fill between the pace of some of our competitors and ourselves, but the Lizards have had their heads down and of course Jörg and I are right in there with them. Hopefully some of the things we need to progress on we can try out at Le Mans. The big one is here. We are very, very excited.
Check out this new livery…it’s a special design for Le Mans this year. The Lizards did this back in 2007 with the famed “Art Car,” and this year there are two cars, both different, and Troy Lee is again the artist. This one is extra special because it is a tribute to overall winners in Porsches and I think quite a few of the drivers who are listed on the car will be at Le Mans to see it and take some photos. It’s special to carry the names of some of sports car racing’s true legends. We have a lot of momentum and excitement going. What really excites me is that I’m back with the Flying Lizards at Le Mans for the first time since 2006 when I drove with Seth and Johannes. This year I’ll be co-driving with Jörg and Lucas Luhr. Lucas is a name that’s pretty familiar around Porsche circles and having him join us just brings a wealth of energy, experience and success, and beyond all that he’s a close friend.
We’ll struggle a bit for straight line speed but where we do struggle for top speed we’ll make up for in reliability and really smooth work in the pits. Certainly our strategy will be to be there at the end and to win it in traditional endurance form. I wouldn’t put any money on qualifying on the pole, but that hasn’t been our way of winning races for the last couple of years. I’m not losing any sleep over that. The entire week at Le Mans always feels so classic and super festive, and I think this year will be exceptional.