Podium result for Wright Motorsports’ Porsche 911 GT3 R at Charlotte Roval

The Porsche customer team Wright Motorsports continues its success streak in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. In the sprint race run over 1:40 hours at Charlotte Roval, works driver Patrick Long and his compatriot Ryan Hardwick achieved second place in the GTD class under difficult wet conditions.

The race

This marks the third straight podium result for the team from the US state of Ohio. Meanwhile, the unrelenting run of bad luck also continued at round eight for the Porsche GT Team in the faster GTLM class. For both Porsche 911 RSR, the evening event near the city of Concord ended after just 20 minutes. 

The first race of the IMSA series at Charlotte Roval started an hour later than planned due to delays in the previous NASCAR Xfinity Series. Facing heavy rain and poor visibility under floodlights, Frédéric Makowiecki (France) initially managed to defend his second starting position in the No. 911 car, with Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) working his way from sixth on the grid to fourth in the No. 912 vehicle. However, after just four laps, Vanthoor hit the track barriers with his GTLM car. The damages to the rear of the defending champion’s 911 RSR were too serious to continue, and the car was out of the race after just ten minutes. 

In the meantime, Makowiecki battled against several rivals and spun in the first corner on the seventh lap. Like his teammate Vanthoor, the resulting contact with the track barriers caused considerable damage, in this case to the front of the car. The damages to the No. 911 contender were also so severe that repairs needed to get the car back into the 100-minute sprint race seemed pointless. The Porsche GT Team had to withdraw the second RSR from the race after around 20 minutes.

However, the Wright Motorsports customer team enjoyed a positive race day. The American Ryan Hardwick had planted the Porsche 911 GT3 R in a strong fifth position during qualifying. In the first 30 minutes of the race, the amateur driver lost a little ground in the No. 16 car before handing the car over to works driver Patrick Long at the first pit stop. The seasoned racer quickly ploughed his way through the field and crossed the finish line in second place, just 1.497 seconds behind the class winner. In the overall standings, the duo has advanced to second. 

In the manufacturers’ championship of the GTLM category, Porsche ranks third after eight rounds. In the drivers’ classification, the two crews Makowiecki/Tandy and Bamber/Vanthoor lie in fifth and sixth respectively. Round nine of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the so-called Petit Le Mans, will be contested on 17 October at Road Atlanta in the US state of Georgia.

Comments on the race

Steffen Höllwarth (Head of Operations IMSA Championship): “We had big plans and the race started well but then the event came to an abrupt halt for us after just 20 minutes. Both vehicles hit the barriers in heavy rain. We weren’t able to do the necessary repairs within the short time available. That’s bitterly disappointing for our entire team. We have a lot of work to do before the next race.” 

Frédéric Makowiecki (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “First I have to let this sink in. I’m deeply disappointed. After the qualifying, things seemed really good. The second grid spot looked promising for the race. But heavy rain threw a spanner in the works. We had massive problems with aquaplaning and the car just couldn’t be controlled. We’ve had difficulties in heavy rain throughout the year.”

Nick Tandy (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “I didn’t turn a single race lap so I can’t really comment on the events. Let me focus on the positive: I very much enjoyed the fact that we discovered uncharted territory in the IMSA series at Charlotte Roval. The course is a huge challenge. That became very obvious today. Now we’ll throw ourselves into preparing for the upcoming race at Road Atlanta.”

Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “Crash in qualifying, crash in the race. Quite honestly, that was my worst performance in years. I don’t know what happened: it just didn’t work. We had hardly any grip in the rain. We had nothing to lose so I tried everything to match the pace of the leaders. Unfortunately, it went terribly wrong.” 

Earl Bamber (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “It was not our day. Rain is always associated with difficulty for us. We had massive aquaplaning on the extremely wet track. The car very quickly ended up in one of the walls that stand very close to the track edge at Charlotte. Now we’re looking forward to Petit Le Mans. The race runs over ten hours. That should suit us better – at least if it stays dry in Florida.”

Race result

Result GTLM class
1. Garcia/Taylor (E/USA), Chevrolet Corvette C8.R #3, 62 laps
2. Krohn/Edwards (FIN/USA), BMW M8 GTE #24, 62 laps
3. Spengler/De Phillippi (CDN/USA), BMW M8 GTE #25, 62 laps
4. Gavin/Milner (GB/USA), Chevrolet Corvette C8.R #4, 54 laps
DNF Tandy/Makowiecki (GB/F), Porsche 911 RSR #911, 8 laps 
DNF Vanthoor/Bamber (B/NZ), Porsche 911 RSR #912, 4 laps

Result GTD class
1. Foley/Auberlen (USA/USA), BMW M6 GT3 #96, 61 laps
2. Long/Hardwick (USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R #16, 61 laps
3. De Angelis/James (CDN/USA), Aston Martin Vantage GT3 #23, 61 laps

Full results and championship standings at imsa.alkamelsystems.com.

The preview

The Porsche GT Team heads into unknown territory at round eight of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The North American sports car championship will be contested for the first time at the Charlotte Roval course in Concord on 10 October. To prepare for the race, the works team went testing on the 3.67-kilometre track. With works driver Earl Bamber from New Zealand at the wheel of the Porsche 911 RSR, the factory squad gained valuable experience and data for the upcoming challenge. The Porsche GT Team will field two GTLM vehicles at the race, which takes place over one hour and 40 minutes. As the prototype class will not feature at Charlotte, Porsche’s number 911 and 912 cars will fight for overall victory. The Wright Motorsports customer squad tackles the GTD category with a Porsche 911 GT3 R.

The IMSA series debut is contested as part of the popular NASCAR championship. The racetrack consists of a 3.67-kilometre combination of the 1.5-mile oval and a tight infield road course with 18 turns. “We didn’t contest the previous Mid-Ohio round due to possible coronavirus cases during the 24 Hours of Le Mans, however, we’re now returning to the championship. The Charlotte Roval is new terrain for all teams. Our Porsche 911 RSR performed very well at both Daytona races. Given that the layout at Charlotte is similar, I expect we’ll have good chances to claim our long-awaited first win of the season,” says Pascal Zurlinden, Director Porsche Factory Motorsport.

“The test day in Charlotte gave us important insights,” explains Head of Operations Steffen Höllwarth. “At first glance, the layout looks similar to the Daytona racetrack, but there are differences: the infield passage portion is larger; the stress on the vehicle and tyres in the oval is massive. This has to be taken into account when working on the setup. What’s more, we’re competing as part of the NASCAR weekend. We have no experience with how the rubber that’s left on the track by these cars will affect the grip level of our vehicles. It’ll be an exciting 100-minute sprint.”

The Porsche GT Team drivers

Britain’s Nick Tandy and Frenchman Frédéric Makowiecki share driving duties in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR. The seasoned works driver duo currently ranks sixth in the drivers’ classification with 171 points. Works drivers Earl Bamber from New Zealand and Belgium’s Laurens Vanthoor share the cockpit of the No. 912 sister car. The reigning GTLM-champions are tied for points with their colleagues and lie fifth in the drivers’ championship. In the manufacturer’s classification, Porsche ranks third after seven of 11 rounds.

The customer team

In the GTD category, Wright Motorsports fields a Porsche 911 GT3 R. The cockpit of the No. 16 car is crewed by the American works driver Patrick Long and his compatriot Ryan Hardwick. The pair finished the last two races at Road Atlanta and Mid-Ohio on the podium. Wright Motorsports currently lies fourth in the category for GT3 vehicles.

Drivers' comments before the race

Frédéric Makowiecki (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “Each manufacturer got the chance to test on the Charlotte Roval with one vehicle. While that gave us preliminary insights, there are still a lot of open questions. The layout puts the tyres under a lot of stress. The key to success at Charlotte is a consistently fast pace over an entire stint. I hope we can find an optimal setup during the two short practice sessions. If we manage that, the chances for our first win of the season look good.”

Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “I only know Charlotte from the simulator. I’ve turned a lot of virtual laps there and discovered that the course is a big challenge. The stresses on the cars and tyres are enormous. It’ll be tricky for us drivers because there are massive barriers right next to almost all of the track. You need to be careful. Since we’re no longer in contention for the championship title, we can thoroughly enjoy the events and we want to achieve as many individual successes as possible.”

Live streaming of the race

Round eight of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Charlotte Roval takes off on Saturday, 10 October, at 20:05 local time (Sunday 02:05 CEST). The 100-minute race can be viewed outside the USA and Canada on www.imsa.com

The schedule (local time, CEST: -6 hours)

Friday, 9 October
19:30 - 20:30: Free practice 1

Saturday, 10 October
09:45 – 11:00: Free practice 2
14:00 – 14:15: Qualifying GTD
14:25 – 14:40: Qualifying GTLM
20:05 – 21:45: Race

911 RSR, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Round 6, Braselton, USA, Race, 2020, Porsche AG
Porsche 911 RSR

The Porsche 911 RSR

The Porsche 911 RSR (2019 model year) celebrated its debut in the IMSA SportsCar Championship at the 24 Hours of Daytona in January. Compared to its extremely successful predecessor model, the Weissach engineers made improvements to the car, most notably in areas such as drivability, efficiency, ergonomics and serviceability. About 95 per cent of all components are new. The 911 RSR is powered by a 4.2-litre, six-cylinder boxer engine.

This is the IMSA SportsCar Championship

The IMSA SportsCar Championship was founded in the USA and Canada in 2013 after the merger of the American Le Mans Series and the Grand-Am Series. A year later the new sports car race series, which is organised by the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), was contested for the first time. 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 new Porsche 911 RSR is fielded in the GTLM class, and the Porsche 911 GT3 R contests the GTD class.

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