10/14/2018

Outstanding season finale: Porsche wins Petit Le Mans

The Porsche GT Team has won the final round of the 2018 IMSA Weathertech SportsCar Championship. Patrick Pilet, Nick Tandy and Frédéric Makowiecki won the Petit Le Mans race at Road Atlanta.

Race

In the race over ten hours at Braselton, Georgia, Porsche put in a strong performance against tough competition in the GTLM class. Thanks to perfect tactics and a flawless race, the Porsche 911 RSR scored its third win of the season in the North American championship. Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium), Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Mathieu Jaminet (France) concluded the last IMSA race of the year in sixth place.

The victorious trio in the No. 911 Porsche maintained their promising position in the early phase of the race. With consistent lap times and perfectly executed pit stops, the three worked their way through the field at the endurance classic. With approximately three hours left on the clock, Makowiecki moved into the lead and defended this position. Tandy then brought the car over the finish line in first place with an advantage of 11.443 seconds.

The 911 RSR No. 911 crossed the finish line in first place with an advantage of 11.443 seconds


For 71 laps, the sister car with the starting number 912 was also on course for victory – despite a puncture early on in the ten-hour race. A drive-through penalty, however, threw the trio down the field. Bamber, Vanthoor and Jaminet tried everything to catch up, however the fierce competition in the GTLM prevented them from making up lost ground. The vehicle crossed the finish line one minute behind the winning No. 911 car.

The race in the GTD class

In the GTD class, the Porsche customer team Wright Motorsports concluded the final race of the season in fourth place. Works driver Patrick Long (USA), Porsche Selected Driver Christina Nielsen from Denmark and Germany’s Robert Renauer put in a strong drive in the Porsche 911 GT3 R with the starting number 58. However, like with the No. 912 factory car, a drive-through penalty cost them a possible class win. The Porsche fielded by Park Place Motorsports had to retire early from the 2018 Petit Le Mans. Wolf Henzler (Germany) had shared the cockpit of the No. 73 car with Americans Timothy Pappas and Spencer Pumpelly.

Comments on the race

Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser (Vice President Motorsport and GT Cars): “Our strategy worked perfectly. Right from the start, we focused on having a car at the end of the race that was very fast in cool conditions. Patrick laid the foundations for this success with a strong double stint. Nick and Fred then brought it home. But you need the right tactic, too, and that worked perfectly. Petit Le Mans was a huge race. This victory fits perfectly with the successes that came just in time for Porsche’s 70th anniversary. If someone had written a film script for such a scenario, no one would have believed it to be real. But it worked and that’s just terrific!”

Pascal Zurlinden (Director GT Factory Motorsport): “It was a gripping race with highs and lows. Minor errors on the racetrack cost us some time, but with perfect strategies and tyre choices we made it to the front of the field. After victories in Sebring and at Le Mans and now Petit Le Mans – the entire team simply did a perfect job, and today we extended the contract with the squad for another three years. Now we’ll prepare for next season.”

More quotes in the press release (Downloads).

Race result

GTLM class
1. Tandy/Pilet/Makowiecki (GB/F/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 419 laps
2. Milner/Gavin/Fässler (USA/GB/CH), Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, 419 laps
3. Krohn/Edwards/Mostert (FIN/USA/AUS), BMW M8 GTE, 419 laps
4. Sims/De Phillippi/Auberlen (GB/USA/USA), BMW M8 GTE, 419 laps
5. Briscoe/Westbrook/Dixon (AUS/GB/USA), Ford GT, 419 laps
6. Vanthoor/Bamber/Jaminet (B/NZ/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 419 laps
7. Hand/Müller/Bourdais (USA/D/F), Ford GT, 418 laps
8. Magnussen/Garcia/Fässler (DK/E/CH), Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, 417 laps
9. Vilander/Molina/Bertolini (FIN/E/I), Ferrari 488 GTE, 416 laps

GTD class
1. MacNeil/Serra/Jeannette (USA/BRA/USA), Ferrari 488 GT3, 407 laps
2. Legge/Parente/Hindman (GB/P/USA), Acura NSX GT3, 407 laps
3.Sellers/Snow/Lewis (USA/USA/USA), Lamborghini Huracan GT3, 406 laps
4. Long/Nielsen/Renauer (USA/DK/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 406 laps
13. Henzler/Pumpelly/Pappas (D/USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 122 laps

Full results are available here.

Qualifying

The Porsche GT Team takes up the last race of the 2018 IMSA Weathertech SportsCar Championship season from the second grid row. In Friday’s qualifying at Braselton, Georgia, Earl Bamber set the third fastest lap time in the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR. In the sister car with the starting number 911, Patrick Pilet (France) posted the fifth quickest time. The Porsche GT Team sends its two sports cars from Weissach into the ten-hour race on Saturday sporting a design that evokes memories of the Porsche 911 GT1, which scored overall victory at the 1998 Le Mans 24-hour race and pole position at the inaugural Petit Le Mans event.

Unlike many of his rivals in the fiercely contested GTLM class, Bamber (New Zealand) initially waited at the start of the qualifying in the hopes of benefiting from improved track conditions and less traffic. The New Zealander, who shares driving duties with Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and Mathieu Jaminet (France), made optimal use of the grip in bright sunshine and high temperatures. Over the course of the 15-minute session on the famous Road Atlanta racetrack, Pilet was able to improve significantly. In the end, the Frenchman was just 0.160-seconds shy of his factory driver colleague. Pilet is joined in the cockpit of the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR by Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and Frederic Makowiecki (France).

In the GTD category, customer teams did not take part in the hunt for pole position. Timothy Pappas turned many laps in the Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by Park Place Motorsports to gain further insights for the race. The American shares the No. 73 vehicle with Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Spencer Pumpelly (USA). The Wright Motorsports squad also decided not to contest the qualifying. Works driver Patrick Long (USA), Porsche Selected Driver Christina Nielsen (Denmark) and Robert Renauer (Germany) take turns at the wheel of the No. 58 car.

The sister car with the starting number 911 posted the fifth quickest time

Preview

Painted with the distinctive blue and red-orange stripes, the two Porsche 911 RSR racers evoke memories of the 911 GT1, which scored overall victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1998. Twenty years ago, an identical model started from pole position in the famous Road Atlanta race. It was at the inaugural running of the event under the name “Petit Le Mans”. Facing Ferrari, BMW, Ford and Chevrolet, the Porsche GT Team now aims to build on those unforgettable successes with the two race vehicles from Weissach.

For many drivers, the 4.088-kilometre racetrack in the US state of Georgia ranks high in the popularity stakes. The so-called “esses” (turns 2 through 5) in the first sector pose a huge challenge for drivers. Courage and utmost precision combined with a perfect car setup are essential in this fast passage. At the 20 races (each over ten hours or 1,000 kilometres) contested here so far, Porsche has scored a total of 23 class wins. In 2015, the works team from Weissach beat even the prototypes to clinch overall victory. “Petit Le Mans” is also the final race of the North American Endurance Cup (NAEC). In this competition, which encompasses the races at Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta, the Porsche GT Team currently ranks second overall.

The Porsche drivers

Each of the two Porsche 911 RSR vehicles will be driven by three pilots at the long-distance race at Road Atlanta. Sharing the cockpit of the No. 911 Porsche are Patrick Pilet (France), Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and Frenchman Frédéric Makowiecki. In March, these three won the Sebring 12-hour race. After securing second at Laguna Seca, Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and Earl Bamber (New Zealand) will be joined in the No. 912 cockpit by Porsche Young Professional Mathieu Jaminet (France). The customer sport team Wright Motorsports fields the No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R with works driver Patrick Long from the USA, Porsche Selected Driver Christina Nielsen (Denmark) and Robert Renauer from Austria. Sharing driving duties in the No. 73 Porsche 911 GT3 R sports car of Park Place Motorsports is the works driver Wolf Henzler (Germany) and the two Americans Spencer Pumpelly and Timothy Pappas.

The Porsche vehicles

For the second race season, the 911 RSR was optimised primarily in the setup. Depending on the size of the restrictor, the motor, which is positioned in front of the rear axle, puts out around 375 kW (510 hp). The particularly large rear diffuser combined with a top-mounted rear wing provides strong downforce and aerodynamic efficiency. The ca. 368kW (500 hp) 911 GT3 R was designed for worldwide GT3 series. The vehicle is campaigned by customer teams, for whom Porsche has provided an evo-kit in 2018.

This is the IMSA SportsCar Championship

The IMSA SportsCar Championship, a sports car race series contested in the USA and Canada, was run in 2014 for the first time. The series was formed from the merger of the American Le Mans Series and the Grand-Am Series. Sports prototypes and sports cars start in three different classes: GTLM (GT Le Mans), GTD (GT Daytona) and P (Prototype). The Porsche 911 RSR runs in the GTLM class, with the Porsche 911 GT3 R contesting the GTD class.

Related Content

Most popular

  1. The Genesis of “Taycan”
  2. Esport car Racing Series: Porsche partners with iRacing
  3. Ultra-high-power charging technology for the electric vehicle of the future
  4. The new Porsche 911: more powerful, faster, digital
Social Media