Porsche Napleton Racing (PNR) and lead driver David Heinemeier Hansson will make their American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón debut in the No. 97 PNR/37signals Porsche 911 GT3 Cup at the upcoming Time Warner Cable Road Race Showcase event at Road America, Aug. 20. Hansson and PNR will compete in the GT Challenge class and have signed veteran international sports car racer Dominik Farnbacher to co-drive in Saturday's featured four-hour race.
The step up to the premier ALMS championship follows back-to-back successful showings by PNR and Hansson in the team's last two rounds of the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama, including a third-place finish in the most recent race at Lime Rock last month. That strong result, the team's first career podium showing, followed an eighth-place run earlier that same day in the first race of the Lime Rock doubleheader event. In the team's race prior to Lime Rock, PNR and Hansson finished fourth at Miller Motorsports in early May.
"We had a great run at Lime Rock with a podium finish and that's just the momentum we need for the step into ALMS GTC," Hansson said. "I'm very excited to be going out on track with all the professional drivers of ALMS."
Although he will co-drive with Hansson for the first time, Farnbacher is familiar with PNR, parent company Napleton Porsche of Westmont and its General Manager and Team Principal Ron Barnaba.
"I haven't met David yet, but I heard only good things of him," Farnbacher said. "He seems to be a super good upcoming talent in the U.S. racing soil. I can't wait to meet him, work with him in the race, and PNR is familiar to me. I worked together with Ron a few years ago when I used to race in ALMS with a Porsche team, we cooperated with Ron and took his customers out for track days at the Autobahn circuit in Chicago. I met a lot of fantastic people who I still talk to today, and I am glad Ron now has his own team. That can mean only good things. He is a smart businessman, and I am sure he has only the best people working with him."
Hansson and Farnbacher will be supported by a PNR crew led by winning team manager and crew chief Tim Olsen and race engineer Marc Manning, both of whom led the GT3 Cup effort.
"That we managed to land Dominik Farnbacher as my co-driver on the team is just icing on the cake," said Hansson, who is coached by Porsche factory driver Patrick Long. "We already have a stellar team of mechanics and the engineering to put a contender car on the grid, so with a great pro by my side, I think we have everything lined up to do really well."
Farnbacher has been a frequent Ferrari competitor in international sports car competition the last couple of years, but he has just as much experience behind the wheel of Porsche GT3s. He scored multiple victories and finished second in the 2008 ALMS GT2 championship, and was also on the pole for this year's Rolex 24 At Daytona in a Porsche 911 GT3.
"I grew up driving only Porsches in my young years," said Farnbacher, who also joined Wolf Henzler in leading his Porsche GT3 team to victory in the 2005 Rolex 24. "After driving the Ferrari a lot lately, people think I am used to driving only a Ferrari and can't handle a Porsche anymore. But driving to the pole position in Daytona this year I showed that I can still drive a Porsche. The new Porsche Cup car is a real racecar and great car to drive, so it will be a pleasure racing it. In my spare time, I also coach racers in Porsche cars so I also get a lot of seat time on top of it."
Although the current focus is solely on Road America, Hansson and PNR are also planning on running additional ALMS races this year, including the season-ending Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
"I love endurance racing and I love the mix of classes that ALMS offers, so it's going to be a great time," Hansson said.
Along with Porsche Cars North America and Flying Lizard Motorsports, Napleton Porsche of Westmont will host a pre-race reception at its Chicago-area dealership, Wednesday, Aug. 17, from 6-8 p.m. Several high-performance and racing Porsches will be on display, including a Flying Lizard Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, and drivers Hansson, Farnbacher, Long and Jorg Bergmeister are scheduled to attend.