Porsche joins Grand-Am as official partner Porsche, one of the most successful manufacturers in GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 history - and in all of sports car racing - has become the newest "Official Promotional Partner" of GRAND-AM, joining the growing list of manufacturers participating in the program.
Porsche now has the right to use GRAND-AM marks, logos, images and videos throughout the 2010 season. The program allows all Porsche drivers in the Rolex Series GT class to be eligible for the prestigious Porsche Cup, which has been awarded by the manufacturer to the top privateer Porsche driver on an annual basis since 1970.
Porsche has won nine Rolex Series manufacturer championships, more than any other manufacturer. It captured manufacturer titles in five different Rolex Series classes, including Daytona Prototype in 2003. The German manufacturer earned its 22nd overall victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January.
Porsche is the winningest manufacturer in Rolex Series history, having claimed its 58th class victory last month in the Bosch Engineering 250 when Ted Ballou and Andy Lally co-drove TRG's No. 66 AXA Porsche GT3 at Virginia International Raceway. The manufacturer is also the winningest - both in overall and class victories - in GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge history, with 42 overall and 59 class wins in the series.
"The GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series is a very important component of our motorsports effort in the United States," said Paul Ritchie, president of Porsche Motorsport North America.
"Both our 911 race cars and Porsche-powered Daytona Prototypes have found success in the series, and we are very pleased to add this increased marketing component to add to the technical support we already provide our customers."
The Porsche Cup - with a multiple prize fund of more than euro250,000 ($310,000) - is one of the most coveted awards of any manufacturer.These awards are presented at the annual Porsche Cup party in Weissach, Germany. Since GRAND-AM's inception in 2000, three full-time Rolex Series competitors have earned the Porsche Cup: Kevin Buckler in 2002, Wolf Henzler in 2006 and Dirk Werner in 2009.
Buckler owns and operates TRG, the most successful GT team in Rolex Series history, which celebrated its 26th class victory last month at VIR. Buckler earned the Porsche Cup as a driver in 2002, when he took the GT-class victory in both the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and finished second in the Rolex Series GT championship.
Henzler's 2006 season included four Rolex Series GT victories and a second-place performance in the championship standings with Tafel Racing. Werner, meanwhile, co-drove a Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche to four Rolex Series GT class victories and the 2009 championship with Leh Keen. Werner also won the 2007 Rolex GT title. Buckler, Henzler and Werner joined sports car legends such as John Fitzpatrick, Bob Wollek, Bernd Schneider and Klaus Ludwig as winners of the prestigious award.
"Drivers who have won the Porsche Cup will tell you that it is one of their most meaningful and cherished accomplishments," said Kevin Hindson, GRAND-AM Vice President, Marketing and Communications. "We've been fortunate to have three Rolex Series drivers win the Porsche Cup over the past decade against the very best Porsche privateers the world has to offer. To have all Porsche drivers in the GT class eligible for this award shows once again that the intense competition in the Rolex Series is recognized internationally."
The next event in Lakeville, Conn., for the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series will be the Memorial Day Classic on May 31 at Lime Rock Park (SPEED live, 2 p.m. ET). Tickets are available now at www.limerock.com. A Live Race Broadcast is also available on select MRN affiliates beginning at 1:45 p.m. ET and delayed broadcast on Sirius NASCAR Radio - XM and Sirius Channel 128.