Four races, one victory, three further podium results – with this opening balance to the season, the Porsche 911 RSR heads into the summer break of the IMSA SportsCar Championship. At the Laguna Seca race in California, outright Le Mans winner Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France) scored third place on Sunday after a spirited dash through the field with the winning racer from Weissach. At the wheel of Porsche North America’s second 911 RSR, which is based on the seventh generation of the iconic 911 sports car, the defending IMSA GT champion Patrick Pilet (France) and overall Le Mans winner Nick Tandy (Great Britain) took the flag in ninth place. A fortnight ago the pair won the prestigious race on the city circuit of Long Beach. In the manufacturer’s classification, Porsche now ranks second just three points behind the leader.
After a difficult qualifying, the two Porsche 911 RSR took off into the two-hour race on the demanding dune circuit near Monterey from the back of the field. The first impressive performance came from the pit crew of Porsche North America, who dispatched both 911 racers in record time after the first pit stop following a safety car phase. Patrick Pilet gained four positions as a result and returned to the track in third place with Frédéric Makowiecki directly behind him. After a good hour, Pilet had moved into second place only to have a Corvette shunt him from the track and down the field. His compatriot steadily picked up the pace towards the end of the race, benefiting from a sophisticated race strategy and another well-executed pit stop. This allowed him to overtake a Corvette and a Ferrari in the final laps to score third place for Porsche.
How the race went in GTD-class
The new Porsche 911 GT3 R has scored its first race win in the IMSA SportsCar Championship. On the dune circuit close to Monterey, the former Porsche Junior Alex Riberas (Spain) and Mario Farnbacher (Germany) clinched GTD-class victory for the Porsche customer squad, Seattle/Alex Job Racing. After posting the top time in qualifying, the pair took up the race from pole position and maintained their lead over the entire two-hour race. The 911 GT3 R celebrated its race debut at Daytona in January mounted with the new ultra-modern four-litre flat-six engine with direct fuel injection. Porsche built the racer for GT3 series worldwide, based on the 911 GT3 RS production sports car.
In the earlier GTLM-class race, overall Le Mans winner Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Frèdéric Makowiecki (France) finished third with the Porsche 911 RSR campaigned by the Porsche North America factory squad.
Preparations underway for the next races
Before the works drivers at Porsche North America return to round five of the IMSA SportsCar Championship in Watkins Glen (USA) on 3 July, they will first contest two of the most famous 24-hour races in Europe: Nürburgring and Le Mans.
On the legendary Nordschleife of the Nürburgring, the 44th running of the long distance classic will be contested on 28/29 May. At Germany’s largest motorsport event, where more than 200,000 fans celebrate a very special motorsport party in the Eifel hills each year, Manthey Racing campaigns two of the new 911 GT3 R. Together with the squad, with its headquarters just a stone’s throw from the Nürburgring in Meuspath, Porsche has celebrated five overall victories so far on its home track. More than 600 pilots and around 160 racing vehicles tackle the so-called “Green Hell Adventure”.
Just three weeks later, on 18/19 June, the Porsche pilots face the world’s most famous endurance race: Porsche brings a large GT contingent to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the season highlight of the World Endurance Championship in the French province of La Sarthe. In addition to a pair of 911 RSR fielded by Porsche Motorsport in the GTE-Pro class, customer teams will campaign another five of the 470 hp winning racers from Weissach – one in the GTE-Pro class and four in the GTE-Am category. The Porsche works drivers to compete on the Nürburgring and at Le Mans are the two overall Le Mans victors from last year, Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy, as well as Richard Lietz, the winner of the 2015 FIA World Endurance Cup as the best WEC GT pilot. In the past, the Austrian has notched up three GT wins at Le Mans with Porsche.
The six-hour race in Watkins Glen, where the IMSA SportsCar Championship picks up speed again after the Le Mans break, is regarded as an American sports car classic. Porsche tackles the demanding circuit in the US State of New York as the leader of the North American Endurance Cup. The races in Watkins Glen, Daytona, Sebring, and Petit Le Mans all count towards this competition. Last year Porsche clinched its first win of the season with the Porsche 911 RSR at Watkins Glen. This success marked the start of an impressive winning streak that ultimately yielded all three GTLM championship titles.
Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport: “What an absolute thriller! Pit stops, tyre strategy, fuel poker – we did everything right today. Even the high temperatures helped us. This has earned us some critical points towards the championship. That was a tremendous effort from the whole team. The drivers were sensational in implementing the strategies. Considering the conditions that we faced here initially, this is a perfect result.”
“The first victory for the new 911 GT3 R here in the IMSA SportsCar Championship was achieved thanks to the sensational performance of the drivers in an extremely close race. We congratulate the winning crew of Seattle/Alex Job Racing and the two pilots.”
Marco Ujhasi, Overall Project Leader GT Works Motorsport: “We made the most out of this race. Four podiums from four races – we can be proud of such a start to the season. Our preparations from free practice to the qualifying and then the race were not easy. But we developed a great strategy and it worked perfectly for at least one of the 911 RSR.”
1. Briscoe/Westbrook (AUS/GB), Ford GT, 79 laps
2. Pier Guidi/Serra (I/BRA), Ferrari 488 GTE, 79
3. Bamber/Makowiecki (NZ/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 78
4. Garcia/Magnussen (E/DK) Chevrolet Corvette, 78
5. Hand/Müller (USA/D), Ford GT, 78
6. Fisichella/Vilander (I/SF), Ferrari 488 GTE, 78
7. Gavin/Milner (GB/USA) Chevrolet Corvette, 78
8. Pilet/Tandy (F/GB), Porsche 911 RSR, 78
9. Edwards/Luhr (USA/D), BMW M6, 78
10. Auberlen/Werner (USA/D), BMW M6, 78
Points’ standings GTLM class after 4 of 11 races
1. Millner, Gavin, Corvette, 130 points
2. Bamber, Makowiecki, Porsche, 118
3. Briscoe, Westbrook, Ford, 115
4. Serra, Ferrari, 113
5. Fisichella, Vilander, Ferrari, 112
6. Auberlen, Werner, BMW, 109
7. Garcia, Magnussen, Chevrolet, 108
8. Pilet, Tandy, Porsche, 106
9. Hand, Müller, Ford, 100
10. Edwards, Luhr, BMW, 92
1. Riberas/Farnbacher (E/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 79 laps
2. Nielsen/Balzan (DK/I), Ferrari 488 GT3, 79
3. Davis/Davison (USA/AUS), Aston Martin GT3, 79
8. MacNeil/Keen (USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 79
11. Lindsey/Bergmeister (USA/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 79
This is the IMSA SportsCar Championship
The IMSA SportsCar Championship is a sports car race series contested in the USA and Canada, which 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 four different classes: GTLM (GT Le Mans), GTD (GT Daytona), P (Prototype) and PC (Prototype Challenge). The Porsche 911 RSR runs in the GTLM class, with the new Porsche 911 GT3 R contesting the GTD class.
911 GT3 RS: Combined fuel consumption 12.7 l/100 km; CO₂ emissions: 296 g/km