IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, round 1, Daytona/USA
The new Porsche 911 RSR lines up on the grid for the first time in North America to tackle the 24 Hours of Daytona (25/26 January). At the season-opening round of the IMSA SportsCar Championship in Florida, two ca. 515-hp, 2019-generation GT racers will be fielded in the GTLM class.
The new GT flagship from Weissach has already made a very successful debut, securing two one-two results and three pole positions from four races. At the first encounter with the competition in North America at the IMSA tests, dubbed the “Roar before the 24”, in early January, the new Porsche 911 RSR turned the fastest laps multiple times. At Daytona, Porsche heads into the 2020 season in North America as the title defender of the manufacturers’, drivers’ and team classifications. The manufacturer is well represented in the GTD class with three Porsche 911 GT3 R.
The Daytona 24H
The 24-hour race on the Daytona International Speedway in Florida has been contested every year since 1966. The 5.73-kilometre-long high-speed racetrack is a combination of fast, banked turns and tight, twisty infield passages. The endurance classic is the traditional season opener of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and is a round of the North American Endurance Cup (NAEC).
The Porsche GT Team drivers at the Daytona 24H
Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France) share the cockpit of the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR for the IMSA SportsCar Championship. The two receive support for the 24-hour race in Florida from Matt Campbell (Australia). The 24-year-old completed his training as a professional racer at Porsche and now contests his first season as a Porsche works driver. Sharing driving duties in the identical GT racer with the starting number 912 are Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium), the title defenders in the drivers’ classification. Frenchman Mathieu Jaminet, who came third at Daytona last year as a Porsche Young Professional, will reinforce the team at the long-distance classic – also as a newly-signed works driver.
The Porsche customer teams at the Daytona 24H
Pfaff Motorsports competes with drivers Dennis Olsen (Norway) and Zach Robichon (Canada) in the No. 9 Porsche 911 GT3 R. In 2019, the successful duo scored the maiden GTD-class win for Pfaff Motorsports in the IMSA SportsCar Championship at Lime Rock.
Porsche development driver Lars Kern (Germany) and Porsche works driver Patrick Pilet (France) round off the line-up, with Pilet contesting the GTD class for the first time. Porsche works driver Patrick Long (USA) joins forces with his compatriots Ryan Hardwick and Anthony Imperato at the wheel of Wright Motorsports’ No.16 Porsche 911 GT3 R. Porsche specialist Klaus Bachler (Austria) supports the team as the fourth driver. The No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 R campaigned by Black Swan Racing tackles the season-opener of the IMSA SportsCar Championship at Daytona with Porsche works driver Sven Müller (Germany), Jeroen Bleekemolen (Netherlands) and the two Americans Timothy Pappas and Trenton Estep.
Porsche successes at Daytona
Porsche is by far the most successful manufacturer at Daytona. The Stuttgart automobile manufacturer has notched up 18 overall wins as a constructor and four more as an engine partner. The impressive track record also includes 78 class victories. With five overall victories and one class win, the American racing legend Hurley Haywood is the Porsche driver with the most titles.
The Porsche GT Team receives backing for the 2020 season for the first time from the new team partner TAG Heuer. The collaboration with the Swiss luxury watchmaker will run for several years. Both manufacturers can look back on many joint successes in motor racing. One outstanding highlight for Porsche is the “TAG-Turbo made by Porsche”, an engine which powered Formula 1 cars in the 1980s and won two constructor world championships in 1984 and 1985 as well as three drivers’ world championship titles from 1984 to 1986. TAG Heuer has been the title and timing partner of the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E team since 2019.
The Porsche 911 RSR
The new Porsche 911 RSR (2019 model year) celebrates its debut in the IMSA SportsCar Championship at Daytona. The vehicle from Weissach, which produces around 515 hp depending on the air restrictor, is based on the high-performance 911 GT3 RS* road-going sports car. Compared to its extremely successful predecessor model, the car received improvements, most notably to areas such as driveability, efficiency, ergonomics and serviceability. About 95 percent of all components are new. The 911 RSR is powered by a 4.2-litre, six-cylinder boxer engine.
The 24 Hours of Daytona gets underway on Saturday, 25 January, at 1.35pm local time (7.35pm CET) and can be viewed live outside the USA and Canada on www.imsa.com.
Comments prior to the Daytona 24H
Pascal Zurlinden (Director Factory Motorsport): “The new Porsche 911 RSR makes its US debut at the 24 Hours of Daytona. With two one-two results and three pole positions, the new racing-911 has already impressively underlined its huge potential at the FIA WEC. We now want to build on these successes at the start of the North American season and win the long-distance classic in Florida.”
Nick Tandy (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “I’m looking forward to kicking off the North American season at Daytona with the new Porsche 911 RSR and I want to climb to the very top of the podium there. The Daytona International Speedway is one of my favourite circuits. The track layout is special and I’m expecting a close and exciting race.”
Frédéric Makowiecki (Porsche 911 RSR #911):
“The Daytona 24-hour race is one of the most important endurance events in the world – a high-speed circuit with long full-throttle passages. We started from pole position last year but were unable to defend our spot in wet conditions during the race. We want to do better this year and achieve a good result at our first US outing with the new Porsche 911 RSR. I have two fast teammates with Nick and Matt. Combined with our team and the new 911, we have a perfect package. We have to quickly find our rhythm, then we can go for victory.”
Matt Campbell (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “To contest my first race as a Porsche works driver at Daytona and compete in a team with Nick and Frédéric is a huge step in my career. I hope to learn a lot from these two seasoned drivers and be amongst the frontrunners with them at the famous Daytona 24 Hours.”
Earl Bamber (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “I’m looking forward to the start of the IMSA SportsCar Championship. Laurens and I achieved great results in the series last year and won the drivers’ championship. We now want to defend that. We are keen to make our intention clear right from the outset with a good result at Daytona.”
Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “Daytona is a really important race for me. I’ve always dreamed of winning the four major 24-hour classics – Le Mans, Spa-Francorchamps, Nürburgring and Daytona. I’ve achieved the first three, just Daytona is missing. We were close last year with third place, but this time we want to win. Another goal this season is to defend the championship title with Earl. A win at Daytona would be the perfect start to the season.”
Mathieu Jaminet (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “It’s a great feeling to open the US season at Daytona with the title defenders Earl and Laurens. It’s my second time at this prestigious race. The new Porsche 911 RSR has already underlined its huge potential in the FIA WEC, we’re definitely one of the favourites and want to fight for victory at Daytona.”
Patrick Pilet (Porsche 911 GT3 R #9): “Daytona is a very special racetrack with a combination of steeply banked curves and a tight infield. Anything can happen here, but with our strong driver crew and experienced team we can be at the forefront. I’d like to kick off the 2020 racing season successfully and bring home my first win in the competitive GTD class.”
Patrick Long (Porsche 911 GT3 R #16): “The competition in the GTD class is brutal. We prepared ourselves well at the official “Roar” test and the team is feeling highly motivated. I’m looking forward to contesting the new season with Wright Motorsports. Our strategy for Daytona is to survive the night and when the sun comes up go for victory. We have a strong crew in our cockpit and we’ll push hard.”
Sven Müller (Porsche 911 GT3 R #54): “Daytona has always been a highlight at the start of the season. My drive for Black Swan Racing came at late notice, so I’m really thrilled to be there and put in a strong drive with a super team and great teammates.”
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Edited Porsche factory press release.
Pictures courtesy Porsche AG