A successful outcome to an eventful race weekend for Porsche’s GT teams: At Laguna Seca/USA, the Porsche works pilots Patrick Pilet (France) and Michael Christensen (Denmark) scored the first podium of the year for Porsche North America, clinching third place in the GTLM class in the Tudor United SportsCar Championship after a sensational charge through the field in the 911 RSR. Americans Patrick Lindsey and Spencer Pumpelly celebrated their maiden win of the season with the 911 GT America in the GTD class. On Saturday, the Porsche Manthey team had already snatched two GTE-Pro-class podium spots in the Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC at Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps: With the 911 RSR, Frédéric Makowiecki (France) and Richard Lietz (Austria) were flagged off in second, with Kévin Estre (France) and Sven Müller (Germany) concluding their strong WEC debut in third place.
At Laguna Seca, Patrick Pilet turned heads when he overtook two competitors right at the start of the race on the 3.601-kilometre dune circuit not far from Monterey. At the wheel of his 470 hp 911 RSR, which is based on the seventh generation of the iconic 911 sports car, and last year won the American long distance classics at Daytona, Sebring and Petit Le Mans, he then set out in pursuit of the leader. However, when the Frenchman pulled in for his first pit stop shortly before the end of a safety car phase, and the field went green again whilst he was still in the pits, he suddenly found himself at the back of the strongly-represented GT field with Porsche North America’s #911 Porsche 911 RSR. Pulling out all stops, Patrick Pilet and Michael Christensen launched a charge and, over the 2:40-hour race duration, managed to make up lost ground. After a sensational drive, the pair was rewarded at the flag with third place.
For Michael Christensen, the race weekend under the Californian sun was particularly busy. He not only shared the cockpit of the number 911 car with Patrick Pilet, but also teamed up with Jörg Bergmeister (Germany) in the second 911 RSR fielded by Porsche North America. In the #912 entry, they finished fifth. In the 911 RSR campaigned by the Falken Tire customer team, Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Bryan Sellers (USA) secured eighth place. Michael Christensen and Patrick Pilet, who normally contest the WEC, stood in for their works driver colleagues, Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain) at Laguna Seca, who were competing for the Porsche team at the Le Mans dress rehearsal in Spa-Francorchamps in the third 919 Hybrid.
In the GTD class, the Park Place Motorsports’ customer squad with drivers Patrick Lindsey and Spencer Pumpelly brought home their first win of the Tudor United SportsCar Championship season at Laguna Seca in the Porsche 911 GT America, which had been developed specifically for this series. Third place went to Mario Farnbacher (Germany) and Ian James (USA) in the 911 GT America run by the Seattle/Alex Job Racing outfit.
Comments on the race
Marco Ujhasi, Overall project leader GT works motorsport: “This race weekend was a huge challenge. Because of conflicting commitments with the WEC race in Spa, we had only three drivers for two cars here at Laguna Seca, and this required a special strategy. We got away well at the start and early on everyone was setting a quick pace. During the first pit stop the number 911 car fell back. The way Patrick got the car back into the top three was a stunning piece of work, perhaps the best I’ve ever experienced from a driver at a GT race. Michael did a great job too by bringing home the podium finish. Our drivers performed incredibly today, including Jörg in the second 911 RSR. It’s fantastic to have such drivers. More would simply not have been possible in this race.” Patrick Pilet (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “As always, it’s very difficult to overtake. As far as performance is concerned, the cars in the GTLM class are incredibly close. I had to risk a lot today, particularly in heavy traffic, but that was my only chance. Third place is a good result for us, also with an eye on the championship. We can’t expect much more. It’s a great feeling to be back on the podium.”Michael Christensen (Porsche 911 RSR #911/912): “Switching back and forth between two cockpits was an interesting challenge. I tried to prepare myself as much as possible, but it was still hard. However, it all worked out. A podium spot with the number 911 car is a great result.”Jörg Bergmeister (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “We managed to make up three positions on fresh tyres after the last pit stop. I’m pleased for the team that Patrick and Michael were on the podium. Everyone worked hard and they’ve now been rewarded for it.”Wolf Henzler (Porsche 911 RSR #17): “I was held up at the start by a Corvette that suddenly slowed down in front of me. Later, we weren’t able to make up the positions that I lost because of this.”
Round five of the Tudor United SportsCar Championship in Watkins Glen/New York will have to wait until 28 June to be contested due to the Le Mans 24 Hours.
1. Edwards/Luhr (USA/D), BMW Z4 GTE, 108 laps
2. Auberlen/Werner (USA/D), BMW Z4 GTE, 108
3. Pilet/Christensen (F/DK), Porsche 911 RSR, 108
4. Kaffer/Fisichella (D/I), Ferrari F458 Italia, 108
5. Bergmeister/Christensen (D/DK), Porsche 911 RSR, 108
6. Magnussen/Garcia (DK/E), Chevrolet Corvette, 108
8. Henzler/Sellers (D/USA), Porsche 911 RSR, 108
1. Lindsey/Pumpelly (USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT America, 103 laps
2. Haase/von Moltke (D/USA), Audi R8 LMS, 103
3. Farnbacher/James (D/USA), Porsche 911 GT America, 103
4. Sweedler/Bell (USA/USA), Ferrari 458 Italia, 103
5. Davison/Nielsen (AUS/DK), Aston Martin Vantage, 102
6. Lally/Potter (USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT America, 102