Corvette Racing, Penske Porsches Win Green Challenge World Debut

BRASELTON, Ga., Oct. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- A world debut only ever happens once. And these will be the names to be remembered as the inaugural winners of the Green Challenge at the American Le Mans Series' signature endurance race - Petit Le Mans - at Road Atlanta Saturday: -- Porsche ... and its Penske RS Spyder team of Pat Long, Sascha Maassen and Emmanuel Collard -- GM/Chevrolet ... and its Corvette Racing team of Johnny O'Connell, Jan Magnussen and Ron Fellows.

They earned the first ever Green Challenge trophies in their respective prototype (Porsche) and GT (Corvette) classes. Each had the best score in class for overall performance, fuel efficiency (petroleum displaced) and environmental impact (greenhouse gas emissions) over the 1,000-mile, 2.54-mile road course.

The award was created in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Energy and SAE International, the world's leading automotive engineering organization. On hand to present each trophy were Margo T. Oge, the EPA's Director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality; Pat Davis, DOE's leading official for vehicle technologies and renewable energy and efficiencies; and Dave Schutt, SAE International's COO and Executive Vice President.

The American Le Mans Series is the only major race series in the world in which all cars race on not one, not two, but three alternative 'street legal' fuels: clean sulfur-free diesel, E10 and cellulosic E85. "Street legal" refers to fuels that are virtually the same as the consumer purchases at the fuel station. An electric hybrid is scheduled to make its debut shortly, perhaps at the season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, October 18.

Many, including Oge, believe the Green Challenge represents a real game changer within the motorsports and automotive industry.

"Racing has always been associated with high power and fast driving as well as innovation in safety and performance," said Oge. "But [up until now] we have never been able to put racing and green(ing) together. The truth is we are facing two very severe issues in this country. We have to be self-sufficient when it comes to energy. Burning fossil fuels creates greenhouse gas emissions and has severe consequences. Our hope is by starting here and introducing environmentally friendly technologies, we will continue and transfer such developments to what you and I drive on a daily basis. I applaud the American Le Mans Series and all involved in this effort."

Often viewed as the most sophisticated and technical racing series in the world in which technology transfers directly from the race car to the customer showroom car, the American Le Mans Series has become the global leader in green racing. The 11 automobile marquees that race in the Series - Audi, Acura, Aston Martin, BMW ('09), Corvette, Dodge, Porsche, Ferrari, Mazda, Panos and Ford - readily admit that the relevancy of the American Le Mans Series and its ability to create an environment to develop technologies is one of the primary reasons they race in the world's leading sports car series.

"We have begun something that will have a profound effect on the motorsports and automotive industry," said Scott Atherton, president and CEO of the American Le Mans Series. "When you get the type of support we have had from the highest levels of the EPA and DOE, you know that you are involved in something that can really make a difference. Fuel efficiency and energy independence are two of the most relevant topics we all face today and the American Le Mans Series is prepared to lead the way."

Oh yes. And by the way, Audi Sport North America in its R10 TDI diesel-powered race car won the actual race for the ninth consecutive year with drivers Allan McNish, Dindo Capello and Emanuele Pirro.