The winning racer from Weissach, which is based on the seventh generation of the iconic 911 sports car, tackles the hotly contested GTLM class against strong opposition from BMW, Ferrari, Ford and Chevrolet. In the GTD class, the successful customer squad Alex Job Racing fields the new Porsche 911 GT3 R. Since the more powerful prototype classes P and PC are not contesting the race on the tradition-steeped racetrack close to Alton in the US state of Virginia, the GT vehicles will fight for overall victory for the first time this season.
The first ever IMSA GT race was contested on the Virginia International Raceway in 1971 – and was won by Porsche legends Hurley Haywood and Peter Gregg in the Porsche 914-6 GT. As a consequence of the oil crisis, the racetrack on the North Carolina state border closed its gates in 1974 and only reopened in 2000 after keen motor racing investors from the New York City real estate business invested heavily in the circuit. The complex with hotels, restaurants and a wide range of activities from karting to clay pigeon shooting is considered the first motorsport resort in the United States.
The Porsche drivers
The IMSA GT champion Patrick Pilet (France) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain), last year’s winners on the 5.263-kilometre Virginia International Raceway, share the cockpit of the #911 Porsche 911 RSR. Their works driver colleagues, Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France), tackle the race in the sister 911 RSR with the starting number 912, which is also fielded by the Porsche North America factory squad. The American customer team Alex Job Racing takes on the GTD class with the new Porsche 911 GT3 R, driven by the former Porsche junior Alex Riberas (Spain) and Mario Farnbacher (Germany).
The Porsche vehicles
After securing victories at the long distance classics in Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring as well as numerous championship titles, the 911 RSR has become the most successful GT racing car of recent years. The 911 RSR is based on the seventh generation of the iconic 911 sports car, with 2016 marking its last season of racing as a works car. Its successor is expected to make its race debut in January 2017 at the Daytona 24-hour race. Porsche built the Porsche 911 GT3 R for GT3 series worldwide based on the 911 GT3 RS production sports car. The new customer racer scored its first victory in the IMSA SportsCar Championship at Laguna Seca in May.
The race at Virginia International Raceway takes off on Sunday, 28 August, at 13:35 hrs local time (19:35 hrs CEST) and runs over 2:40 hours. The race can be viewed live outside the USA on www.imsa.com.
Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport: “When five automobile manufacturers fight for victory on the racetrack, as is the case in the GTLM category of the IMSA SportsCar Championship, the drivers are constantly pushing the absolute limits. Hence, it can be expected that the one or the other sometimes pushes a little too hard in the heat of the moment and perhaps sees a gap to overtake where there isn’t one. Unfortunately such manoeuvres cost us possible podium results shortly before the finish at Lime Rock Park and Road America. That really hurt. Still, we’ll be back fighting hard for victory in Virginia. The fans can look forward to another gripping sports car race.”
Patrick Pilet (911 RSR #911): “Virginia International Raceway is one of those traditional racetracks deep in the heart of America that I particularly look forward to. It’s fast and demanding and several passages remind me a bit of the Nürburgring-Nordschleife. This track has very few run-off zones. If you make a mistake as a driver you pay the price immediately. Last year Porsche celebrated a commanding double victory in Virginia. There is no greater motivation than that.”
Nick Tandy (911 RSR #911): “I’m heading to Virginia with great memories. Last year I clinched pole position and we won the race. We led practically from start to finish. This is something quite special if you consider the extremely tough competition in the IMSA SportsCar Championship. The sports prototypes are not contesting this race, so all the competitors in the GTLM class are going for overall victory. For drivers, teams and manufacturers, this is a very special challenge.”
Earl Bamber (911 RSR #912): “With our double victory last year we underlined that Virginia is a racetrack that suits Porsche. Even though the situation in the championship is slightly different for us this year, I think we can still deliver a good performance on this challenging circuit. At the races in Lime Rock Park and Road America we noticed a significant improvement. I hope we can continue to make good progress to be back at the top in Virginia.”
Frédéric Makowiecki (911 RSR #912): “The Virginia International Raceway is the fifth new racetrack for me this year. I find it very interesting to be able to get to know these demanding and storied race courses in the USA. It’s a fantastic experience and an exciting challenge.”
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