IMSA: Perfect teamwork yields Porsche its fourth win from five races this season

The Porsche GT Team has claimed its fourth straight win from five races contested so far in this year’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Sharing the cockpit of the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR, Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy triumphed at the hotly-contested six-hour race at Watkins Glen (USA). 

The Race

Their works driver colleagues Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) achieved sixth place in the identical, ca. 510 hp race car with the starting number 912. With this result, Porsche has extended its lead even more in the manufacturers’ classification and the factory squad has also taken over the top spot in the IMSA Michelin Endurance Challenge in the USA. In the drivers’ classification, Pilet (France)/Tandy (Great Britain) now rank first ahead of Bamber/Vanthoor.

The success at the storied racetrack in the US state of New York was thanks to perfect teamwork, well-executed strategies and flawless performances from the works drivers. After starting from the fourth grid row of the high-class GTLM field, the two Porsche 911 RSR systematically worked their way up the ranks during the first half of the race. A pit stop at half time was a prime example of how the mechanics contributed to the victory. Compared to the Corvette, which had led up until that time, the pit crew completed their work 2.6-seconds faster and thus snatched the lead. In the last 30 minutes of the race, Earl Bamber initially held the top spot ahead of his works driver colleague Nick Tandy, but due to a different pit stop rhythm, the New Zealander had to make a splash-and-dash pit stop just before the flag, which relegated him back to sixth place. 

Porsche GT Team, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, 2019, Porsche AG
The Porsche GT Team

In the overall classification, Porsche has further extended its lead in the manufacturers’ classification by 18 points thanks to the win in Watkins Glen. In the team and drivers’ classification, the crews of the number 911 and 912 cars occupy the first two places. In the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup, which consists of the long distance races at Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta, the Porsche GT Team is now the sole leader.

In the GTD class, the customer team Pfaff Motorsports scored sixth place. Porsche development driver Lars Kern (Germany) as well as the two Canadians Scott Hargrove and Zacharie Robichon launched an impressive charge through the field in the No. 9 Porsche 911 GT3 R. At the beginning of the race, a puncture and a drive-through penalty threw the team back to last place at times. The team made full use of the strengths of the 500+ hp GT3 vehicle from Weissach. Works driver Dirk Werner (Germany) and his teammates Marc Miller (USA) and Marco Seefried (Germany) brought home tenth place in the identical model fielded by Black Swan Racing. The Porsche 911 GT3 R campaigned by Park Place Motorsports, in which works driver Patrick Long (USA) shared driving duties with his compatriots Patrick Lindsey and Nicholas Boulle, retired early. 

Comments on the race

Pascal Zurlinden (Director GT Factory Motorsport): “We’ve won four out of the five races so far this season. We’re leading all classifications and we’re now alone at the top of the Endurance Cup. It’s been a wonderful season so far. I feel for the No. 912 car. The yellow flag simply came out at the wrong time. In the drivers’ championship, both crews occupy the first two positions, so we now have two irons in the fire. The racetracks at the upcoming events over the next few weeks should suit our 911 RSR.”

Steffen Höllwarth (Programme Manager IMSA SportsCar Championship): “First and foremost, I’d like to thank the whole team. The work over the last weeks at the IMSA series races, the successful Le Mans outing and today’s long-distance race at Watkins Glen have been really tough. Victory is the just rewards for the entire crew. Our drivers didn’t have the fastest car in the field, but through consistent and completely flawless drives, we’ve now come out on top. That was a real textbook example of teamwork.”

Patrick Pilet (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “The fact that we won this race is simply incredible. Our car wasn’t running perfectly on Friday, and we experienced some problems in the warm-up before the race. Even on the grid, our engineers did everything they could to fix the car for the race. They did a sensational job. Precisely this work, even during the pit stops and in making the right strategic decisions, was the key to victory. Plus, we drivers didn’t make any mistakes.”

Nick Tandy (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “We certainly didn’t have the fastest car today, but perfect teamwork secured the victory for us. The pit stops were perfect, the strategies were simply good, and with absolutely consistent and immaculate driving, the drivers brought our Porsche 911 RSR to the finish line. Not everything went smoothly at the beginning of the race weekend, but when it came to the crunch we were 100% there. This is a fantastic and very valuable win for me.”

Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “For me personally I’m disappointed, but for the Porsche GT Team I’m thrilled. We could have won this race, but in this case we lacked that necessary bit of luck. We’re still well on course in the championship – that’s the most important thing. Now we’re off to Mosport.”

Earl Bamber (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “We simply hit a bit of bad luck with the yellow flag today. Okay, the car wasn’t the fastest in our class, but we made up for that with consistency and good teamwork. All in all, it was a successful day for Porsche. I’m looking forward to the upcoming races. It’s one great racetrack after the other for us drivers now.”

Race result

GTLM class
1. Pilet/Tandy (F/GB), Porsche 911 RSR, 195 laps
2. Garcia/Magnussen (E/DK), Corvette C7.R, 195 laps
3. Briscoe/Westbrook (AUS/GB), Ford GT, 194 laps
6. Bamber/Vanthoor (NZ/B), Porsche 911 RSR, 194 laps

GTD class
1. Farnbacher/Hindman/Marks (D/USA/USA), Acura NSX GT3, 188 laps
2. Auberlen/Foley/Machavern (USA/USA/USA), BMW M6 GT3, 188 laps
3. MacNeil/Vilander/Westphal (USA/FIN/USA), Ferrari 488 GT3, 188 laps
6. Kern/Robichon/Hargrove (D/CDN/CDN), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 188 laps
10. Miller/Seefried/Werner (USA/D/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 186 laps
33. Long/Lindsey/Boulle (USA/USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 86 laps 

Full results:

The Qualifying

The Porsche GT Team takes up the six-hour race at Watkins Glen (USA) from the fourth grid row. In qualifying for round five of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Nick Tandy (Great Britain) planted the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR on seventh place. His works driver colleague Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) achieved eighth with the No. 912 sister car. Since the start of the season, the Porsche GT Team has claimed three pole positions from four events. 

The hunt for top times at Watkins Glen took place under completely different conditions: two practices in sweltering heat on Friday and one session in heavy rain on Saturday morning. Prior to the qualifying, the sky had cleared over the storied racetrack in New York State, with temperatures soaring to around 26-degrees Celsius. In the 15-minute session, the track offered very little grip. Tandy managed to gradually improve during the qualifying, but could not match the top lap times. Bad luck struck Vanthoor, when a puncture signalled an early end to his qualifying attempt in the Porsche 911 RSR. 

In the GTD class, Zacharie Robichon (Canada) put the No. 9 Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by the customer team Pfaff Motorsports on the sixth grid spot. In the identical vehicle campaigned by Black Swan Racing (No. 540), Marco Seefried (Germany) achieved ninth. The American Nicholas Boulle concluded the qualifying in the No. 73 GT3 nine-eleven run by Park Place Motorsports on 14th. 

Qualifying quotes

Pascal Zurlinden (Director GT Factory Motorsport): “This is not the result we’d hoped for. The number 912 car was hampered by a puncture. The sister car hardly got any track time due to a technical defect on Friday. For this reason it simply didn’t get any experience on a dry track. I hope that with fast pit stops, good strategies and a zero-error job we’ll be able to work our way up the field in the race.”

Nick Tandy (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “We didn’t have the pace of the other manufacturers over one single lap. We barely drove on Friday and hence we couldn’t work on finding a special setup for the qualifying. We should do a little better in the race. Maybe even a podium is possible.” 

Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “Unfortunately I had to stop my qualifying due to a slow puncture. You’re not allowed to change the tyres during the qualifying. Although we’re starting from the last grid spot – we don’t intend to finish in that position.” 

Qualifying result

GTLM class
1. Magnussen/Garcia (DK/E), Corvette C7.R, 1:40.799 minutes
2. Briscoe/Westbrook (AUS/GB), Ford GT, + 0.317 seconds
3. Milner/Gavin (USA/GB), Corvette C7.R, + 0.492 seconds
7. Pilet/Tandy (F/GB), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.755 seconds
8. Bamber/Vanthoor (NZ/B), Porsche 911 RSR, + 1.407 seconds

GTD class
1. Farnbacher/Hindman/Marks (D/USA/USA), Acura NSX GT3, 1:44.975 minutes
2. Legge/Nielsen/Figueiredo (GB/DK/BR), Acura NX GT3, + 0.317 seconds
3. Auberlen/Foley/Machavern (USA/USA/USA), BMW M6 GT3, + 0.528 seconds
6. Kern/Robichon/Hargrove (D/CDN/CDN), Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 0.864 seconds
9. Miller/Seefried/Werner (USA/D/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 1.122 seconds
14. Long/Lindsey/Boulle (USA/USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 3.945 seconds

Porsche 911 RSR, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, 2019, Porsche AG
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