Paul Miller Racing and driver Bryce Miller are taking a significant step forward for the 2011 American Le Mans Series, as the team confirmed plans to compete in the GT class for the full season with the No. 48 Marquis Jet/IPC/TOTAL Porsche 911 GT3 RSR on Yokohama tires.
The team was at the American Le Mans Series Winter Test at Sebring International Raceway this week, turning shakedown laps in the No. 48 Porsche in preparation for next month's 59th Annual Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh From Florida. It will be Miller's second start in the Sebring enduro.
Sebring will be the second endurance race of the 2011 season for both Miller and the Paul Miller Racing team. Last month, the team finished second in the GT class in the Rolex 24 At Daytona (ABOVE) with drivers Miller, Bryan Sellers, Tim Sugden and Rob Bell sharing the No. 48 Marquis Jet/IPC/TOTAL Porsche GT3 Cup. Bryce Miller's co-drivers for Sebring will be announced at a later date.
“We're really excited,” said team owner Paul Miller. “We have a good relationship we've struck up with Yokohama and they're very eager to work with us and the feeling is mutual. We think there is tremendous upside and potential with that relationship. We haven't made all the decisions yet about Bryce's co-driver, but we plan a full schedule and we sure have the team in place, as I think we proved at Daytona.
“We're probably going to try to do some more testing between now and the Sebring race week, just to try to sort out some of the kinks since it is a used car that we're trying to develop. We're really eager to go.”
Miller, 28, of Summit, N.J., and the team move to the GT class after running six rounds in the ALMS GTC class in 2010. Miller last competed in the ALMS GT class in 2009 with Farnbacher Loles Motorsports, and in fact drove the same Porsche 911 GT3 RSR that Paul Miller Racing has acquired for the 2011 season.
Miller has had some of his greatest successes driving Porsche GT3 RSRs in ALMS competition. As a series rookie in 2008, he earned his first career victory at Road America alongside co-drivers Dirk Werner and Richard Westbrook, and in his ALMS debut at Sebring, Miller and Werner combined with Marc Basseng to lead near the halfway point in the prestigious 12-hour race.
“I'm ultra-excited to be here in GT,” said Miller. “It's a different level of excitement. The cars are more advanced, which makes it a lot of fun for the driver, and so is the depth of talent, as well. We have quite a bit to learn as a new team here in this arena, but we have a very good team. We were able to do some shakedown laps here at Sebring to work toward finding some sort of baseline and work from there.”
Also joining the team for the Sebring test was 2008 Porsche Carrera Cup and 2010 Porsche Super Cup champion Rene Rast. The 24-year-old Volkswagen Junior from Germany brings considerable sports car racing experience from Europe, including the last four years racing in the German Porsche Carrera and Super Cup series. He also raced one of the Audi factory R8s at the 2010 VLN Nürburgring Endurance Championship and scored a class win at the famous Nürburgring 24 hours race with Volkswagen 2007. However, he hadn't experienced the quirky, 3.7-mile Sebring International Raceway layout until this week.
“It was my very first time racing here in America,” said Rast. “The track is very bumpy, and I didn't do very many laps so I didn't want to push for a start. I just tried to focus on the car and the racetrack, of course. I'm very excited for the next test and it would be great if we could do a full season together.”