IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, round 4 at Laguna Seca/USA
Four races, one victory, three further podium results – with this opening balance to the season, the Porsche 911 RSR heads into the summer break of the IMSA SportsCar Championship. At the Laguna Seca race in California, outright Le Mans winner Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France) scored third place on Sunday after a spirited dash through the field with the winning racer from Weissach.
At the wheel of Porsche North America’s second 911 RSR, which is based on the seventh generation of the iconic 911 sports car, the defending IMSA GT champion Patrick Pilet (France) and overall Le Mans winner Nick Tandy (Great Britain) took the flag in ninth place. A fortnight ago the pair won the prestigious race on the city circuit of Long Beach. In the manufacturer’s classification, Porsche now ranks second just three points behind the leader.
After a difficult qualifying, the two Porsche 911 RSR took off into the two-hour race on the demanding dune circuit near Monterey from the back of the field. The first impressive performance came from the pit crew of Porsche North America, who dispatched both 911 racers in record time after the first pit stop following a safety car phase. Patrick Pilet gained four positions as a result and returned to the track in third place with Frédéric Makowiecki directly behind him. After a good hour, Pilet had moved into second place only to have a Corvette shunt him from the track and down the field. His compatriot steadily picked up the pace towards the end of the race, benefiting from a sophisticated race strategy and another well-executed pit stop. This allowed him to overtake a Corvette and a Ferrari in the final laps to score third place for Porsche.
Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport: “What an absolute thriller! Pit stops, tyre strategy, fuel poker – we did everything right today. Even the high temperatures helped us. This has earned us some critical points towards the championship. That was a tremendous effort from the whole team. The drivers were sensational in implementing the strategies. Considering the conditions that we faced here initially, this is a perfect result.”
Marco Ujhasi, Overall Project Leader GT Works Motorsport: “We made the most out of this race. Four podiums from four races – we can be proud of such a start to the season. Our preparations from free practice to the qualifying and then the race were not easy. But we developed a great strategy and it worked perfectly for at least one of the 911 RSR.”
Nick Tandy (911 RSR #911): “Even though we weren’t able to turn super fast lap times in qualifying, the 911 RSR performed well over the distance on this circuit. Congratulations to our teammates on the podium. That was a truly great performance.”
Patrick Pilet (911 RSR #911): “After winning at Long Beach we were obviously hoping for a better result. But today’s race proved rather difficult for us. Our mechanics helped us get ahead in the race with great pit stops. But after the Corvette nudged me off the track there was not a lot I could do. Overtaking was virtually impossible.”
Frédéric Makowiecki (911 RSR #912): “Our third place is the result of great team work. I’m really proud of the boys from Porsche North America. After the qualifying we didn’t think we would achieve a podium spot. That makes our joy so much greater.”
Earl Bamber (911 RSR #912): “When I think about the problems we had in free practice and qualifying, this podium feels like a victory. The team did an awesome job over the whole weekend and the pit stops were simply perfect. This is a fantastic result for us.”
Preparations underway for 24-hour races at the Nürburgring and in Le Mans
Before the works drivers at Porsche North America return to round five of the IMSA SportsCar Championship in Watkins Glen (USA) on 3 July, they will first contest two of the most famous 24-hour races in Europe: Nürburgring and Le Mans.
On the legendary Nordschleife of the Nürburgring, the 44th running of the long distance classic will be contested on 28/29 May. At Germany’s largest motorsport event, where more than 200,000 fans celebrate a very special motorsport party in the Eifel hills each year, Manthey Racing campaigns two of the new 911 GT3 R. Together with the squad, with its headquarters just a stone’s throw from the Nürburgring in Meuspath, Porsche has celebrated five overall victories so far on its home track. More than 600 pilots and around 160 racing vehicles tackle the so-called “Green Hell Adventure”.
Just three weeks later, on 18/19 June, the Porsche pilots face the world’s most famous endurance race: Porsche brings a large GT contingent to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the season highlight of the World Endurance Championship in the French province of La Sarthe. In addition to a pair of 911 RSR fielded by Porsche Motorsport in the GTE-Pro class, customer teams will campaign another five of the 470 hp winning racers from Weissach – one in the GTE-Pro class and four in the GTE-Am category. The Porsche works drivers to compete on the Nürburgring and at Le Mans are the two overall Le Mans victors from last year, Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy, as well as Richard Lietz, the winner of the 2015 FIA World Endurance Cup as the best WEC GT pilot. In the past, the Austrian has notched up three GT wins at Le Mans with Porsche.
The six-hour race in Watkins Glen, where the IMSA SportsCar Championship picks up speed again after the Le Mans break, is regarded as an American sports car classic. Porsche tackles the demanding circuit in the US State of New York as the leader of the North American Endurance Cup. The races in Watkins Glen, Daytona, Sebring, and Petit Le Mans all count towards this competition. Last year Porsche clinched its first win of the season with the Porsche 911 RSR at Watkins Glen. This success marked the start of an impressive winning streak that ultimately yielded all three GTLM championship titles.
1. Briscoe/Westbrook (AUS/GB), Ford GT, 79 laps
2. Pier Guidi/Serra (I/BRA), Ferrari 488 GTE, 79
3. Bamber/Makowiecki (NZ/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 78
4. Garcia/Magnussen (E/DK) Chevrolet Corvette, 78
5. Hand/Müller (USA/D), Ford GT, 78
6. Fisichella/Vilander (I/SF), Ferrari 488 GTE, 78
7. Gavin/Milner (GB/USA) Chevrolet Corvette, 78
8. Pilet/Tandy (F/GB), Porsche 911 RSR, 78
9. Edwards/Luhr (USA/D), BMW M6, 78
10. Auberlen/Werner (USA/D), BMW M6, 78
Points’ standings GTLM class after 4 of 11 races
1. Millner, Gavin, Corvette, 130 points
2. Bamber, Makowiecki, Porsche, 118
3. Briscoe, Westbrook, Ford, 115
4. Serra, Ferrari, 113
5. Fisichella, Vilander, Ferrari, 112
6. Auberlen, Werner, BMW, 109
7. Garcia, Magnussen, Chevrolet, 108
8. Pilet, Tandy, Porsche, 106
9. Hand, Müller, Ford, 100
10. Edwards, Luhr, BMW, 92
1. Chevrolet, 130 points
2. Porsche, 127
3. Ferrari, 120
4. Ford, 115
5. BMW, 108
1. #4 Corvette Racing, 130 points
2. #912 Porsche North America, 118
3. #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, 115
4. #68 Scuderia Corsa, 113
5. #62 Risi Competizione, 112
6. #25 BMW Team RLL, 109
7. #3 Corvette Racing, 108
8. #911 Porsche North America, 106
9. #66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, 100
10. #100 BMW Team RLL, 92