Race, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, round 7, Lime Rock Park/USA
Porsche clinched a podium spot at round seven of the IMSA SportsCar Championship in Lakeville. The Mid-Ohio winners Laurens Vanthoor from Belgium and New Zealander Earl Bamber finished third in the GTLM class with the Porsche 911 RSR. Driving the sister car, Patrick Pilet from France and Britain’s Nick Tandy, the winners of this year’s Sebring 12-hour race, took the flag in fifth place after two hours and 40 minutes. Vanthoor and Bamber had been running in second place over a long stretch and managed to gradually close the gap to the leader. However, two mistakes cost the 510-hp sports car with the starting number 912 valuable time and one position. In the overall classification, Porsche still ranks third in the manufacturer’s category.
In a summery temperature of 24-degrees Celsius and under slight cloud, thousands of fans on the grassy hills surrounding the racetrack in Lime Rock Park in the US state of Connecticut witnessed both 911 RSR make a clean start off the line. Vanthoor, as the qualifying and start driver, took off from second on the grid at a race contested exclusively with GT vehicles. While running in second place, the current winner of the Le Mans 24-hour race handed the car off to Bamber, who managed to shorten the gap to the leader. However a driving error, which saw Bamber take a short detour off the track, and time lost due to a mistake during the second pit stop, robbed the #912 car of a possible victory.
Bad luck hampered Pilet and Tandy in Saturday’s race day. Thirty-five minutes before the qualifying session, Pilet slid from the track during the warm-up, and slightly damaged the #911. The team managed to swap out the damaged parts, however there was not enough time to check the setup of the Porsche 911 RSR. Pilet took up the race from eighth on the grid but wasn’t able to make up any positions on the narrow racetrack. However, his teammate, Tandy, managed to work his way up to fifth place during his stint thanks to the team’s good pit stop strategy and an inspired overtaking manoeuvre two minutes before the end of the race.
In the GTD class, Wright Motorsports fielded a Porsche 911 GT3 R at the seventh round of the season. Porsche works driver Patrick Long from the USA and Porsche Selected Driver Christina Nielsen from Denmark held a promising lead at times but ultimately had to settle for eighth place.
Round eight of the IMSA SportsCar Championship is contested on 5 August at Road America in Elkhart Lake in the US state of Wisconsin.