Stuttgart. For Porsche, the 2009 motorsport season takes off with a real classic. At the 24 Hours of Daytona, the time-honoured season-opener to the Grand-Am Series in the USA, nine Porsche works drivers as well as the two Porsche juniors compete, and are determined to continue the great success the Zuffenhausen sports car manufacturer has enjoyed here: With 20 victories, Porsche is the most successful manufacturer in the history of the legendary long distance race in Florida. This race is a huge challenge for our teams and drivers right at the start of the season, says Hartmut Kristen, head of motorsport at Porsche. The special appeal comes mostly from the fact that drivers come to Daytona from the most diverse racing series to compete on almost neutral ground. After securing two championship titles in 2007 and 2008 with the Porsche RS Spyder in the American Le Mans Series, Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France) join forces with Penske Racing in the prototype class of the Grand-Am Series. For the twelve rounds this season, the successful team under Roger Penske fields a Riley chassis (start number 16) powered by a ca. 510 hp Porsche six-cylinder engine. The third driver in Daytona is Ryan Briscoe (Australia), who normally earns points for the Penske squad in the American IndyCar Series. The 24 Hours of Daytona has always been one of my favourite races, says Timo Bernhard, the 2003 winner with a Porsche 911 GT3 RS. You have the chance to compete against drivers from other racing series pilots youve always wanted to race against. And if you can win, then that gives you the motivation and a tailwind for the rest of the season. Brumos Racing also enters two Porsche-Riley (# 58 and #59) in the class for Daytona Prototypes. The most famous driver in the Brumos line-up, alongside the Indy500 champion Buddy Rice (USA), is Hurley Haywood (USA). In 1973 he celebrated his first of five Daytona victories with Porsche, making him the most successful driver at this long distance classic. Other legendary Porsche pilots to grace the all-time honours list at the 24 Hours of Daytona are Rolf Stommelen and Bob Wollek, each with four wins. Following a long tradition, Porsche is strongly represented in the GT class with its works drivers. Joerg Bergmeister (Germany), Daytona winner of 2003 and 2006 Grand-Am champion, teams up with Patrick Long (USA) in a Porsche 911 GT3 fielded by TRG (No. 67). Manning the TRG cars (No. 66 and 65) are Emmanuel Collard (France) and Richard Lietz (Austria) as well as Porsche junior Marco Holzer (Germany). Wolf Henzler (Germany), reigning GT2 champion of the American Le Mans Series with Joerg Bergmeister, joins the driver crews of two 911 GT3 cars for Farnbacher Loles Racing (No. 85 and 87). Porsche junior Martin Ragginger (Austria) takes the wheel of the 911 GT3 for Autometrics Motorsports (No. 14). Sascha Maassen (Germany) and Patrick Pilet (France) compete for Wright Motorsports (No. 33). In the GT class, a total of 31 vehicles line up on the grid, 17 of which are Porsche 911 GT3. The 24 Hours of Daytona takes off on Saturday, 24 January, at 15.30 hrs local time (21.30 CET). The 2009 races Twelve races in the USA and Canada make up the 2009 Grand-Am Series calendar: 24/25 Jan. Daytona 24 Hours 26 April Virginia 03 May New Jersey 17 May Laguna Seca 06 June Watkins Glen 6 Hours 20 June Mid-Ohio 03 July Daytona 19 July Birmingham 07 Aug. Watkins Glen 29 Aug. Montreal 20 Sept. Salt Lake City 10 Oct. Miami Facts and Figures This is the Grand American Sports Car Series In the year 2000, the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series (abbr.: Grand-Am Series) replaced the United States Road Racing Championships. For the 2009 season, twelve races are contested in the USA and Canada. A traditional highlight of the season is the 24 Hours of Daytona. Most races run over a distance of 250 miles. The grid is made up of two different vehicle categories: Daytona Prototypes and GT vehicles. With one exception, both categories race together but are separately classified. Daytona Prototypes (DP): Special manufacturers, like Riley, supply the vehicle chassis. To ensure equal chances for all, large manufacturers are not permitted to enter their own team, but may supply engines. Two Porsche teams, Penske Racing and Brumos Racing, compete with the Porsche 3.99-litre six-cylinder fitted in a Riley chassis. In the Daytona Prototype specification, the engine delivers ca. 510 hp. Minimum weight of the vehicle is 1,021 kilograms. Grand Touring (GT): The GT class is similar to the FIA GT3 class, where the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup is one of the most successful contenders. Equality of chances is attained through tyre size, rev limitations and weight. The minimum weight is between 1,043 and 1,270 kilograms. A balanced starter field ensures thrilling racing with tough fights for positions and many overtaking manoeuvres. Porsche has won the GT championship seven times in nine years, most recently in 2007 with Dirk Werner at the wheel of a Farnbacher Loles Racing 911 GT3 Cup, and with this is one of the most successful manufacturers in the Grand-Am Series. Porsche works driver Joerg Bergmeister claimed the Prototype class title in 2006.