In the qualifying for the long-distance classic on the bumpy airfield circuit in the heart of Florida, the reigning IMSA GT champion Patrick Pilet (France) clocked the seventh quickest time in the GTLM class with his 911 RSR (#911) fielded by the Porsche North America works squad. His teammates for Saturday’s race are Le Mans winner Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and Kévin Estre (France). Last year’s polesitter, Frédéric Makowiecki (France), planted the second Porsche 911 RSR on tenth place. Sharing driving duties with him in the cockpit of the #912 racer are Le Mans winner Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Michael Christensen (Denmark). With 18 overall and 70 class victories, Porsche is the most successful manufacturer in the illustrious history of the 12-hour race.
In the GTD class, the best-placed Porsche 911 GT3 R set fourth in qualifying for the second longest race of the US season. The new customer racer from Weissach is campaigned by the Seattle/Alex Job Racing team with drivers Mario Farnbacher (Germany), Alex Riberas (Spain), and Ian James (Great Britain).
1. Auberlen/Spengler/Werner (USA/CDN/D), BMW M6, 1:58.402 minutes
2. Edwards/Luhr/Wittmer (USA/D/CH), BMW M6, + 0.190 seconds
3. Guidi/Bertolini/Serra (I/I/BRA), Ferrari 488, + 0.235
4. Briscoe/Dixon/Westbrook (AUS/USA/GB), Ford GT, + 0.306
5. Garcia/Rockenfeller/Magnussen (E/D/DK) Chevrolet Corvette, + 0.454
6. Gavin/Fässler/Milner (GB/CH/USA) Chevrolet Corvette, + 0.476
7. Tandy/Pilet/Estre (GB/F/F), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.607
10. Makowiecki/Bamber/Christensen (F/NZ/DK), + 0.768
1. Segal/Nielsen/Balzan (USA/DK/S), Ferrari 488, 2:02.350 minutes
2. Keeting/Miller/Bleekemolen (USA/USA/NL), Dodge Viper, + 0.036 seconds
3. Klingmann/Curtis/Freiberg (D/USA/USA), BMW M6, + 0.310
4. Farnbacher/James/Riberas (D/GB/E), Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 0.687
5. McNeil/Keen/Jeannette (USA/USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 0.891
6. Bergmeister/Lindsey/McMurry (D/USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 0.934
Last year, 140,000 spectators travelled to America’s oldest and toughest sports car race. The Porsche North America works team campaigns a pair of Porsche 911 RSR in the GTLM class at the 64th running of the classic on the storied and notoriously bumpy racetrack. With 18 overall victories and 70 class wins, Porsche is the most successful manufacturer in the history of the Sebring 12-hour race. Porsche tackles the second round of the IMSA SportsCar Championship as the points’ leader of the North American Endurance Cup, a competition encompassing the four long distance races at Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Petit Le Mans.
Immortalised on the winners’ list are racing legends such as Juan Manuel Fangio, Dan Gurney, Hans Hermann, Jacky Ickx and Mario Andretti. Hollywood stars Paul Newman and Steve McQueen, who finished second overall in 1970 with a Porsche 908, have also fulfilled their racing dreams in Sebring. Built on a former airfield, the circuit with its 17 corners is 5.954 kilometres long and hosted the inaugural race on 31 December 1950.
The Porsche drivers
Six Porsche works drivers compete for Porsche North America at Sebring in the GTLM class. In the cockpit of the #911 Porsche 911 RSR is the reigning IMSA GT champion Patrick Pilet (France), the outright Le Mans winner Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and Kévin Estre (France). Sharing driving duties in the number 912 racer is the other overall Le Mans winner Earl Bamber (New Zealand), Frédéric Makowiecki (France) and Denmark’s Michael Christensen, who has recently been elected “Driver of the Year” in his homeland. In the GTD class, factory pilots Jörg Bergmeister (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA) compete for Porsche customer teams with the Porsche 911 GT3 R.
The Porsche racing cars
The 911 RSR received not only a new factory finish for the 2016 season. The 470 hp winning racer from Weissach, which is based on the seventh generation of the iconic 911 sports car, received modifications to the aerodynamics to comply with the new regulations. The position of the rear wing was moved further to the back, with the rear diffuser now considerably larger. Moreover, the 911 RSR received a modified front spoiler lip as well as wide side sills. The new 911 GT3 R celebrated its race debut at Daytona mounted with the new ultra-modern four-litre flat-six engine with direct fuel injection. Porsche built the 500 hp customer sports racer, based on the 911 GT3 RS production sports car, for GT3 series worldwide. In developing the vehicle, the engineers at Weissach paid special attention to lightweight design, better aerodynamic efficiency, reducing consumption as well as improved handling.
The first outright victory for Porsche in Sebring came in 1960 courtesy of Hans Herrmann and Olivier Gendebien in the Porsche 718 RS/60; the most recent overall win in 2008 was clinched by Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Emmanuel Collard with the Porsche RS Spyder. Porsche’s list of successes also includes no less than 70 class wins at this race. The most recent success was last year with the Porsche 911 GT America fielded by the Alex Job Racing customer team. In 2014, Jörg Bergmeister, Michael Christensen and Patrick Long scored class victory at the wheel of a Porsche 911 RSR.
The 12 Hours of Sebring takes off on Saturday, 19 March, at 10.40 hrs local time (15.40 hrs CET) and can be viewed live outside the USA on www.imsa.com.
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.
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911 GT3 RS: Combined fuel consumption 12.7 l/100 km; CO2 emissions: 296 g/km
Model range 911 (Type 991 II): Combined fuel consumption: 9.3 – 7.4 l/100 km; CO2 emissions 216 - 169 g/km