Paul Miller Racing and co-drivers Bryce Miller and Sascha Maassen could not have asked for a much better start to their 2012 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón season.
The driving duo opened the year with a fifth-place run in the Twelve Hours of Sebring, and with two races now in the books, the teammates are fifth in points, the highest-ranked Porsche team in the ALMS GT standings. Miller, Maassen and the rest of the No. 48 Dunlop/Chopard/TOTAL Porsche 911 GTS RSR team have already descended upon the picturesque Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. looking to continue their solid campaign in the six-hour American Le Mans Monterey Presented by Patrón on Saturday.
The team debuted its brand-new 2012 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR and its new tire partnership with Dunlop at Sebring in March and came away as the highest-placed ALMS Porsche team. In Round 2 at Long Beach last month, another top five was possible before a drive-through penalty in the two-hour sprint race relegated them to eighth in the final rundown.
Nevertheless, the No. 48 Porsche was right on pace with many of the GT front-runners on the tight street circuit, giving the team reason for optimism heading into this weekend’s third round. Another one comes courtesy of ALMS officials, who approved a few key changes to the Porsches to bring them closer to the rest of the competition.
“I’m really looking forward to Laguna,” said Bryce Miller, who will be making his seventh sports car start in Monterey. “The ALMS and Porsche worked together to homologate a couple of changes that should also help us. One is a more aggressive aero package for the Porsches and the other is a larger air restrictor. Both of those things should help the balance of power. Of course, Sascha has an outstanding record at Laguna and we have also been working really well together.”
Indeed, Maassen’s record from 12 previous MRLS starts is impressive. He owns ALMS class victories in 2001 (GT), 2002 (GT) and 2005 (LMP2) along with three class pole positions, and has finished inside his class top three in six events. It’s no wonder that he considers the 2.238-mile, 11-turn road circuit to be one of his favorites.
“Laguna Seca is special, and the six-hour format is also an additional task,” said Maassen. “I feel confident that Paul Miller Racing, Porsche and Dunlop will work well together to give us drivers no other chance than performing well. We want to defend our position as best Porsche in the championship and hopefully move up in points a bit as well.”
Official on-track activities get underway on Friday morning with a one-hour practice session beginning at 10:50 a.m. PT. A second hour-long practice from 3:35 to 4:35 p.m. PT precedes qualifying, which runs from 5:00 to 5:15 p.m. PT for the GT class.
Saturday’s race-day schedule includes a 20-minute warm-up session beginning at 10:05 a.m. PT, followed by a driver autograph session at the team transporter from 11:05 to 11:45 a.m. PT. The six-hour American Le Mans Monterey Presented by Patrón gets the green flag at 1:30 p.m. PT.
Live coverage of qualifying and the race will be available on ESPN3.com. The qualifying broadcast will begin at 7:40 p.m. ET on Friday, May 11, and the live race broadcast begins at 4:15 p.m. ET on Saturday. A tape-delayed telecast will air on ESPN2 at 5:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 13.
Paul Miller Racing
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
2011 – 10th in ALMS GT
2010 – 5th in ALMS GTC
2009 – 17th in GRAND-AM GT
2008 – 10th in GRAND-AM GT
2008 – 2nd in ALMS GT2 – later excluded due to ride-height violation
2007 – 3rd in GRAND-AM GT
Total Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Starts: 6
Best Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Result: Third (GRAND-AM GT – 2007)
2011 – 10th in ALMS GT
2010 – 2nd in ALMS LMP/overall
2008 – 6th in ALMS LMP2/10th overall
2007 – 2nd in ALMS LMP2/4th overall, qualified on LMP2 pole
2006 – 2nd in ALMS LMP2/5th overall
2005 – Won ALMS LMP2 class/5th overall
2004 – 8th in ALMS GT
2003 – Won ALMS GT, qualified on GT pole
2002 – Won ALMS GT
2001 – 3rd in ALMS GT
2000 – 12th in ALMS GT, qualified on GT pole
1999 – 11th in ALMS GT
Total Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Starts: 12
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Class Wins: 3 (2005 – LMP2, 2001, 2002 – GT)
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Class Poles – 3 (2007 – LMP2, 2000, 2003 – GT)