The race was repeatedly interrupted by safety car phases after many pilots lost control of their vehicles on the rain-soaked Daytona International Speedway. The longest caution phase behind the pace car lasted over two hours. In the early hours of the morning, the race director made this decision due to the large volume of water on the track.
With three and a half hours left to the finish at 14.30 hours (20.30 hrs CET), the #912 Porsche 911 RSR driven by Patrick Pilet (France), Dirk Werner (Germany) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France) was running in fifth place. Their teammates Kévin Estre (France), Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and Richard Lietz (Austria) headed into the final phase of the season-opening round of the IMSA SportsCar Championship in eighth position after pitting for repairs on Sunday morning. The six top-placed cars in the GTLM class come from four different manufacturers and are all running in the same lap.
Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport: “The night was marked by changing rain. Because of the tricky conditions there were always safety car phases. Although we were doing well, we couldn’t make any real progress because of the many interruptions. For this reason the field is still as close as before the night. This morning we had to repair the right front wheel suspension on our #912 car. Because of this we lost three laps, but should gain ground through the caution phases. Everything points to an exciting and tough finale. In the GTD class, the 911 GT3 R of the Allegra Motorsports customer team managed to get ahead during the stint of our works driver Michael Christensen, but then fell behind again. Still, in the remaining hours it has the potential to fight for the top spots again.”
The race can also be seen live outside the USA on www.imsa.com.
The GT racer, which Porsche Motorsport developed from scratch at Weissach, celebrates its race debut at the Daytona International Speedway. The 911 RSR with the starting number 911 shared by Patrick Pilet (France), Dirk Werner (Germany) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France) took up the race on Saturday afternoon from the third grid row. Although at one point punctures and a drive-through penalty relegated the vehicle to the back of the 55-strong field, once rain set in after six hours of racing it made up ground and even took the lead. After a third of the season-opening round of the IMSA SportsCar Championship, the #911 racer was running in 8th position. The second 911 RSR with the number 912 also led the GTLM field for several laps. Kévin Estre (France), Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and Richard Lietz (Austria), who were also hampered by tyre damage, are currently in 6th place.
Two of the customer sports racers have already retired
The best 911 GT3 R fielded by customer teams in the GTD class is the vehicle run by CORE Autosports with Porsche works driver Patrick Long (USA) in second position. Two of the customer sports racers, which were designed by Porsche on the basis on the 911 GT3 RS production sports car, have already retired: The 911 GT3 R of Manthey Racing was sidelined with a technical problem; the vehicle run by Park Place Motorsports became the victim of an accident. Before being shunted out of contention by a prototype, the vehicle had at times held the lead and looked good for a podium result.
Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport: “We didn’t quite start the race as we’d planned, with both 911 RSR experiencing difficulties with the right front tyre. All in all we had to change the tyres six times. Afterwards we tweaked several things on the car and in the meantime had no problems. We could then re-establish our rhythm. At times we even led the race. The drivers’ feedback is positive. We still have 16 hours to go, but so far everything looks okay. We had a bit of bad luck in the GTD class when one of our hot-favourite 911 GT3 R cars got caught up in an accident and we lost another one through a technical defect. But the other three are still in the race. Let’s see how things go during the night.”
The new Porsche 911 RSR took up the 24 Hours of Daytona on Saturday from the third grid row of the GTLM class. Patrick Pilet (France) posted the fifth quickest time with the #911 Porsche 911 RSR, which he shares with Dirk Werner (Germany) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France). In the second car (#912) fielded by the Porsche GT Team factory squad, Kévin Estre (France) secured the eighth grid spot. Estre contests the long distance classic in Florida with Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and Richard Lietz (France). The completely new 911 RSR developed by Porsche Motorsport in Weissach celebrates its race debut at Daytona.
In the GTD class, in which customer teams campaign the Porsche 911 GT3 R designed on the basis of the 911 GT3 RS production sports car, Porsche “Young Professional” Matteo Cairoli (Italy) set the fourth quickest time. Driving for Manthey Racing, he tackles the 24 Hours of Daytona for the very first time.
Marco Ujhasi, Overall Project Manager GT Works Motorsport: “We’ve all been waiting eagerly for this first qualifying session with the new 911 RSR. Now it’s finally happened and we’re really pleased. The car performed as we’d expected at this stage. We are now turning our attention to preparing for the race and we hope that we are able to turn the insights we’ve gained so far into an even better performance.”
Patrick Pilet (911 RSR #911): “This qualifying wasn’t easy. We didn’t have the time we needed to find the best setup for this racetrack. We’ll now try to make up for this in the two remaining practice sessions today and tomorrow. We’re focussing on the race. And the race setup that we developed during testing back in early January feels good.”
Kévin Estre (911 RSR #912): “We made several changes to the 911 RSR between the last practice and the qualifying and they paid off. Our car is not yet perfect but we’re heading in the right direction. We’ll try to use the time to the race to further optimise the car as well as we can.”
1. Hand/Müller/Bourdais (USA/D/F), Ford GT, 1:43.473 minutes
2. Westbrook/Briscoe/Dixon (GB/USA/NZL), Ford GT, + 0.231 seconds
3. Pla/Mücke/Johnson (F/D/USA), Ford GT, + 0.514
4. Fisichella/Calado/Vilander (I/I/SF), Ferrari 488, + 0.648
5. Pilet/Werner/Makowiecki (F/D/F), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.778
6. Tincknell/Priaulx/Kanaan (GB/GB/BRA), Ford GT, + 0.783
8. Estre/Vanthoor/Lietz (F/B/A), Porsche 911 RSR, + 1.118
1. Pier Guidi/Mann/Mediani/Rigon/Mastronardi (I/CH/I/I/I), Ferrari 488, 1:47.099 minutes
2. Balzan/Nielsen/Cressoni/Bird (I/DK/I/GB), Ferrari 488, + 0.018 seconds
3. Dalla Lana/Lamy/Lauda/Soerensen (CAN/P/A/DK), Aston Martin, + 0.635
4. Cairoli/Müller/Smith/Renger/Prozcyk (I/D/CH/D/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 0.637
5. Engelhart/Ineichen/Companc/Bortolotti (D/CH/ARG/I), Lamborghini, + 0.686
6. de Phillippi/Mies/Gounon/Schmidt (USA/D/F/SWZ), Audi R8, + 1.114
Alongside the Le Mans 24 Hours, Daytona is the second great long distance classic in international motorsport. The race is contested on the 5.729-kilometre Daytona International Speedway, one of the most famous racetracks in the world, which features two steeply banked corners and a tight infield. The great sporting value of the race is also due to the fact that pilots come from many different race series around the world to fight for victory.
The Porsche drivers
With eleven factory drivers and one Porsche “Young Professional”, Porsche has the largest contingent at Daytona. Driving for the Porsche GT Team, Patrick Pilet (France), Dirk Werner (Germany) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France) share the cockpit of the #911 Porsche 911 RSR. Tackling the legendary long distance race at the wheel of the #912 racer are Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium), 2016 winner of the FIA GT World Cup and the Intercontinental GT Challenge, as well as Kévin Estre (France) and Richard Lietz (Austria). In the 911 GT3 R race cars fielded by five customer teams are factory drivers Jörg Bergmeister (Germany/Park Place Motorsports), Michael Christensen (Denmark/Alegra Motorsports), Patrick Long (USA/CORE Autosport), Sven Müller (Germany/Manthey-Racing) and Wolf Henzler (Germany/TRG) as well as Porsche “Young Professional” Matteo Cairoli (Italy/Manthey-Racing). For Dirk Werner, Laurens Vanthoor and Sven Müller, the 24 Hours of Daytona is their first race as Porsche works drivers.
The Porsche vehicles
The 911 RSR is a completely new development: the suspension, body structure, aerodynamic concept, engine and transmission have all been designed in Weissach from scratch. Depending on the size of the restrictor, the motor, which is now positioned in front of the rear axle, puts out around 375 kW (510 hp). Thanks to the particularly large rear diffuser combined with a top-mounted rear wing, the level of downforce and the aerodynamic efficiency were significantly improved. The new factory design of the 911 RSR with the basic colours white, red and black has further developed the clear and dynamic design language of Porsche Motorsport. The 911 GT3 R celebrated its race debut a year ago in Daytona mounted with the new ultra-modern, four-litre, flat-six engine with direct fuel injection. Porsche had designed the more than 368 kW (500 hp) customer sports racer for worldwide GT3 series on the basis of the 911 GT3 RS production sports car.
The first of 22 outright Porsche victories at Daytona went to Vic Elford, Jochen Neerpasch, Rolf Stommelen, Jo Siffert and Hans Herrmann in 1968 in a Porsche 907LH (longtail). In the traditionally very competitive GT classes, Porsche has notched up a record 76 wins. The most recent win in the GTLM class was in 2014 with Richard Lietz, Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet at the wheel of a 911 RSR. Five overall victories in the years 1973, 1975, 1977, 1979 and 1991 as well as a class win in 1972 at the race in Florida makes the American Hurley Haywood the most successful Porsche pilot at Daytona.
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 Porsche 911 GT3 R contesting the GTD class.
911 GT3 RS: Combined fuel consumption: 12,7 l/100 km; Combined CO2 emissions: 296 g/km