Last year, the pair in the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR won the race on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Patrick Pilet (France) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain) rounded off the strong team result with third place in the ca. 510 hp 911. Thanks to these results, Porsche has succeeded in extending its lead all classifications of the IMSA championship.
In contrast to the free practice and qualifying, the race in the U.S. state of Ohio took place in sunny, dry conditions. The Porsche GT Team implemented its experience with the vehicle and tyres perfectly and setup both Porsche 911 RSR for the changed weather conditions. As the race progressed, the drivers were able to demonstrate their strengths over the long distance. Vanthoor (Belgium), who took up the fourth race of the season from the second grid spot, handed his 911 off to Bamber (New Zealand) after around 50 minutes while running in second place. Thanks to the consistently high speed and perfect strategy, the New Zealander swept into the lead shortly afterwards. The No. 912 car held on to the lead to the flag.
However, the race for their works driver colleagues in the No. 911 vehicle turned into a rollercoaster ride. When the race went green, Pilet made a jump start. Although the ensuing drive-through penalty relegated the vehicle far down the grid, a spirited charge through the field followed. Tandy came out on top after an intense duel with a BMW shortly before the flag and brought the No. 911 over the line in third place. For the first time in North America this season, both Porsche 911 RSR racers finished on the podium.
In the GTD category, the factory driver Patrick Long (USA) and his German teammate Marco Seefried concluded the race in fourth place at the wheel of the No. 73 Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by the customer squad Park Place Motorsports. The team opted for an optimal strategy with a late pit stop during the only safety car phase of the race. With his wealth of experience, the American Long used his fresh tyres to overtake many rivals. Bad luck plagued the customer team Pfaff Motorsports. Putting in a strong stint, Zacharie Robichon (Canada) was on course to score second place in the 500+hp GT3 car from Weissach. His teammate Scott Hargrove defended this podium placing over long stretches, however, with only five minutes left to the flag, the strong performance ended in the gravel at the first corner. The number 9 vehicle was ultimately classified in twelfth place.
In the manufacturers’ classification, the Porsche GT Team now ranks first after four rounds with 135 points and a 15-point advantage. The factory pilots Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor sit at the top of the points in the drivers’ classification, with their team colleagues, Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy, on third.
The two Porsche 911 RSR contesting the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will be transported to Europe at the end of May. On 15/16 June, the vehicles will, like last year, join the factory cars from the FIA World Endurance Championship to tackle the 24 Hours of Le Mans (France). Both vehicles will be back in North America by 30 June in time for the six-hour race in Watkins Glen (USA).
1. Bamber/Vanthoor (NZ/B), Porsche 911 RSR, 116 laps
2. Pilet/Tandy (F/GB), Porsche 911 RSR, 116 laps
3. Magnussen/Garcia (DK/E), Corvette C7.R, 116 laps
1. Heistand/Hawksworth (USA/GB), Lexus RC F GT3, 114 laps
2. Farnbacher/Hindman (D/USA), Acura NSX GT3, 114 laps
3. Sellers/Hardwick (USA/USA), Lamborghini Huracan GT3, 113 laps
4. Long/Seefried (USA/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 113 laps
12. Hargrove/Robichon (CAN/CAN), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 107 laps
Full results: http://imsa.alkamelsystems.com
Steffen Höllwarth (Programme Manager IMSA SportsCar Championship): “That was a perfect race with a sensational result. We had the fastest car over the distance. Our engineers did a great job with the setup. With Earl and Laurens everything is working perfectly at the moment. But the pursuit race of the sister car was just as strong. Victory, podium place, leading all classifications plus the fact that our colleagues in the FIA WEC have just clinched the world championship yesterday – it doesn’t get better than this. Now we’re looking forward to the next great challenge: the 24 Hours of Le Mans.”
Earl Bamber (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “The day was perfect for us. It’s incredible that our run in Mid-Ohio continued seamlessly. We’re leading the championship, but that doesn’t mean we’re leaning back. The competition will certainly not make it easy for us. Before the next IMSA race we first have to tackle Le Mans in mid-June. Hopefully everything will continue to go just as brilliantly there for us, too.
Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “What a wonderful race! After the free practice in wet conditions, it was difficult to find a suitable setup for the changed conditions. But our team used its huge experience to do it perfectly. Our car was the strongest in the GTLM category over the distance. We’ve won Long Beach, we’ve won in Mid-Ohio – this year and last year – we’re on a fantastic roll. As far as I’m concerned, Le Mans can come now.
More comments in the press release.
The Porsche GT Team has continued its good run in qualifying for round four of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. In the hunt for top times for the race in Lexington, Ohio (USA), the Belgian Laurens Vanthoor turned the second quickest lap in his Porsche 911 RSR with the starting number 912. After claiming pole position at Daytona, Sebring and Long Beach, a 911 from Weissach once again starts from the first grid row. In the No. 911 sister car, Patrick Pilet (France) achieved the eighth quickest time.
The qualifying at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course took place under difficult conditions. After rain in the morning, the track gradually dried during the 15-minute session. With each lap, the track condition improved and times got quicker minute by minute. Laurens Vanthoor, who shares the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR with Earl Bamber (New Zealand), was only beaten to pole in the final seconds after a gripping duel. His factory driver colleague, who shares driving duties at the wheel of the No. 911 car with Nick Tandy (Great Britain), never quite got the tyres into the ideal operating range and was thus unable to fight for a top position.
In the GTD class, the new Porsche 911 GT3 R once again underlined its huge potential. Zacharie Robichon took an early lead in the hunt for times, only to be beaten to pole by another competitor at the very end of the session. However, due to a belated drive-through penalty, the fastest lap time was cancelled. As a result, the vehicle was relegated from second to fifth place. For the race, the Canadian shares the cockpit of the No. 9 vehicle with his compatriot Scott Hargrove. Marco Seefried (Germany) experienced bad luck at the wheel of the identical 500+hp GT3 vehicle fielded by the customer team Park Place Motorsports. The German encountered a puddle on his first flying lap and slid onto the grass. This resulted in a red-flag period and the team’s fastest lap times were deleted. Because of this, the No. 73 Porsche 911 GT3 R, which is shared by works driver Patrick Long (USA), starts from position 15.
1. Müller/Bourdais (D/F), Ford GT, 1:19.124 minutes
2. Bamber/Vanthoor (NZ/B), Porsche 911 RSR, 1:19,339 minutes
3. Krohn/Edwards (FIN/USA), BMW M8 GTE, 1:19.623 minutes
8. Pilet/Tandy (F/GB), Porsche 911 RSR, 1:20.098 minutes
1. Heistand/Hawksworth (USA/GB), Lexus RC F GT3, 1:24,281 minutes
2. Keating/Bleekemolen (USA/NL), Mercedes-AMG GT3, 1:26,109 minutes
3. Montecalvo/Bell (USA/USA), Lexus RC F GT3, 1:26,451 minutes
5. Hargrove/Robichon (CAN/CAN), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 1:27,113 minutes
15. Long/Seefried (USA/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R, no lap time
Full results: http://imsa.alkamelsystems.com
Steffen Höllwarth (Programme Manager IMSA SportsCar Championship): “The improving conditions made this qualifying thrilling to the last second. Laurens was in the lead until the end of the session, but then a Ford snatched pole position from us. It’s the first time we’ve not started from pole this season, but the starting position for our number 912 car is still very good. We have to take a look at the sister car to see why the tyre temperatures never quite reached the optimal window at the right time. The race will be very interesting. Slicks haven’t been used much so far this weekend. Race day is supposed to be dry, so tyre management will be a crucial factor.”
Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “The track didn’t offer much grip, so it took attack mode and many fast laps to get the tyres up to the required temperature. I had to go flat-out in every lap – it was like a race. In my opinion, we have a perfect starting spot for round four. More than second place wasn’t possible today. We aim to go for victory in the race so that we can expand our top position in the championship.”
Patrick Pilet (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “That was a disappointing qualifying for me. In the last two hot laps, just as the track was at its best and things got serious, suddenly the balance wasn’t as good as it had been. For this reason I couldn’t do better today. Race day is predicted to stay dry. So far, no one has enough experience on slicks, so this will be our chance to make up positions during the race. If we manage our tyres well, anything is possible.”
More comments in the press release.
After scoring wins at the traditional North American racetracks of Sebring and Long Beach, the sports car manufacturer would now like to further extend its lead at the race on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. After the long-distance races at Daytona and Sebring followed by the Long Beach sprint race, round four of the season is the first event of the year that will run over the standard 2 hours and 40 minutes.
The Porsche drivers
The winners of the Sebring race Patrick Pilet (France) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain) share the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR. The pair currently ranks second in the drivers’ classification. The sister car driven by Bamber and Vanthoor holds an even better position. The New Zealander and the Belgian lead the championship ahead of their factory driver colleagues after winning the Long Beach street race. While the GTD class was absent at the previous round on the Pacific coast, the Porsche 911 GT3 R now returns to the competition. The customer teams Pfaff Motorsports (No. 9) and Park Place Motorsports (No. 73) each field one of the 500+hp GT3 vehicles from Weissach.
The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is located about 100 kilometres south of the shores of Lake Erie, where most of North America’s automotive industry is based. The 3.364-kilometre circuit was opened in 1962 and has hosted sports car races ever since. In 2006 and 2007, Porsche clinched two overall victories with the RS Spyder on the natural terrain road course featuring many surface changes. Last year, Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) won the fiercely competitive GTLM class here. Due to its northern location – around the same latitude as New York – changeable weather conditions should be expected in early May.
The Porsche vehicles
For its third racing season in North America, the Porsche 911 RSR has undergone further optimisation primarily in the setup. Depending on the size of the restrictor, the engine, which is positioned in front of the rear axle, puts out around 375 kW (510 hp). The large rear diffuser combined with a top-mounted rear wing provides aerodynamic efficiency and significant downforce. The 911 GT3 R was newly developed for the 2019 season. Improvements in the areas of aerodynamics and kinematics were systematically implemented from the insights garnered from the many race outings of its predecessor. The six-cylinder engine in the rear of the GT3 customer racer produces over 368 kW (500 hp).
Comments before the race
Pascal Zurlinden (Director GT Factory Motorsport): “Of course we want to continue our good run from the past weeks. The competition among the manufacturers in the GTLM class is fierce. We recently gave an impressive demonstration of just how strong the combination of our squads and the Porsche 911 RSR is. We were victorious over long distances and at the sprint race. Now we’re travelling to Mid-Ohio as last year’s winners – and that gives us even more confidence. We aim to maintain our front spot in the championship and hopefully extend our lead.”
Steffen Höllwarth (Programme Manager IMSA SportsCar Championship): “After our wins at Sebring and Long Beach we’re travelling to the Mid-Ohio race feeling very motivated. This racetrack presents us with new challenges. The course is a real mixed bag with many tight turns and long straights. It requires mechanic grip and the setup must be a good compromise between a lot of downforce and enough top speed. Our victory last year underlined that the Porsche 911 RSR is well suited to the track. Although we’ve been victorious at the previous races, we’ve always had the potential to bring home podium results with both cars. I hope we can do this in Mid-Ohio.”
Sebastian Golz (Project Manager Porsche 911 GT3 R): “The Mid-Ohio track is not only rich in tradition but is also really challenging. The layout allows different racing lines in some places, but the lap-time differences are not significant. The key to success is a strong qualifying result because this narrow circuit doesn’t offer many overtaking opportunities. If you start up the front you can control the race. We want our customer teams’ two Porsche 911 GT3 R cars to be in this promising position.”
More comments in the press release.
The race takes off on Sunday, 5 May, at 13:40 hrs local time (19:40 hrs CEST) and can be viewed live outside the USA and Canada on www.imsa.com.
This is the IMSA SportsCar Championship
The IMSA SportsCar Championship is a sports car race series that has been contested in the USA and Canada since 2014. The series originated from the merger of the American Le Mans Series and the Grand-Am Series. Sports prototypes and sports cars start in four different classes: GTLM (GT Le Mans), GTD (GT Daytona), Dpi (Daytona Prototype international) and LMP2 (Le Mans Prototype 2). The Porsche 911 RSR runs in the GTLM class, and the Porsche 911 GT3 R contests the GTD class.