Alex Job Racing driver Timo Bernhard has his eyes firmly set on the ALMS GT driver's title going into the final race at Laguna Seca in two weeks time.

Bernhard's season got off to a great start at Sebring, as the German driver partnered Jorg Bergmeister and Sascha Maassen to victory in the 12-hour race from their GT pole starting position. However, season long teammate Bergmeister became ill during the week in Florida and was unable to drive the required 25 lap minimum to qualify for points, excluding him from the possibility of becoming co-champion.

Mid-Ohio witnessed the beginning of a tough two races for Bernhard. Despite qualifying on pole, Bernhard and Bergmeister were able to overcome fuel pickup problems on their #23 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR to finish in second place in a race they could have won.

Going into round three at the newly scheduled Lime Rock Park, the #23 car qualified in third position. Early in the race, it looked like rain and the cars pitted for rain tyres only to have it dry out less than ten laps later requiring an additional pit stop. This stop put the car down a lap to the GT class leader. Later into the race, on lap 102, with Bernhard at the wheel the rear half shaft broke. The resulting tenth place finish put Bernhard in second place in the points.

At Infineon Raceway controversy rained in the GT class. At the race end Bernhard found himself in second place to the leading Flying Lizard car. During the race a yellow flag was flown on lap 22, putting the GT field one lap down to the eventual winner. This lap gain was made against the rules, which requires the car to be stopped in the pits and turned off before proceeding down pit road - no drive throughs. After the race Bernhard and Bergmeister were awarded the win by series officials.

The next weekend in Portland, the tough luck for the #23 car returned. With Jorg Bergmeister at the wheel, the Porsche suffered a hit from the rear resulting in a bent header pipe, robbing the car of valuable horsepower, leading the team to a fourth place finish.

Mosport proved to be the turning point for the championship for Bernhard. Starting from third place, Bergmeister had moved into second place coming into the pit window. Nursing a vibrating rear-end, he handed over to Bernhard, with strong pit work by the AJR crew putting him in the lead where went on to win.

The next race at Road America went much the same way when the #23 car won after and early battle with the sister AJR Porsche of Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas - giving Bernhard a three point lead in the standing.

The eighth race on the schedule allowed the team to recover from a six race in ten week stretch to fine tune the Porsche RSRs, rest and do some prerace testing - the first time all season.

Starting behind teammate and pole sitter Dumas, Bernhard began to pursue his teammate. An early yellow flag put the GT point's leader down a lap early. The team decided to bring in the Dumas driver AJR Porsche on lap 14 for fuel under yellow and seven laps later when the shuffling was complete the #24 car was a lap up on second place Bernhard.

On lap 75 Bernhard was able to unlap himself and handed the car over to Sascha Maassen who put the car in the lead. The two AJR cars ran in together for almost sixty-percent of the race with the Bernhard car winning by less than a second - securing a 15 point lead for Bernhard going into the last race at Laguna Seca.

This season has seen the GT category hotly contested between a number of teams and drivers and Bernhard believes it is more competitive than it has ever been before.

"I had never heard of the Flying Lizard team before, as they are new to the series," he said. "But they did a good job to keep us under pressure the whole year. I have been driving in the ALMS since 2002, but this year has been the most challenging and competitive year by far! Not only the Lizard Team, we have five Porsche teams which could win a race plus Ferrari and the Panoz keep getting stronger and stronger each race. The GT class is the best competition in the ALMS.

"In the long distance races everything has worked very well for us this year and there was more of a gap to the other teams. At Sebring and Petit there were no technical or other problems like car damage for the whole race. That makes a difference and what makes an even bigger difference is the fact that we had a car that we could push for long distances. So I have to give a big "thanks" to AJR for preparing these great cars!"

Alex Job Racing has already clinched the ALMS GT team championship.

 

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