The teammates of Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) for the second long-distance classic of the year after the 24 Hours of Daytona are two-time outright Le Mans winner Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Gianmaria Bruni (Italy). At the wheel of the second 911 RSR fielded by the Porsche GT Team, Le Mans winner Nick Tandy (Great Britain) clocked the eighth fastest time at the Sebring International Raceway, the 5.954-kilometre airfield circuit in Florida. He shares driving duties in the #911 car with Frenchmen Patrick Pilet and Frédéric Makowiecki. With 18 overall victories and 70 class wins, Porsche is the most successful manufacturer in the history of the oldest and toughest sports car race in the United States.
Pascal Zurlinden, Director GT Factory Motorsports: “That was a very close qualifying session. The first six cars were separated by just four-tenths of a second. Now we need to work out why we’re trailing a bit and how we can close the gap for the race tomorrow. The temperature differences between the hot afternoon and the cool evening will be huge. One of the secrets to success at Sebring is to find the best possible compromise in the setup.”
Nick Tandy (911 RSR #911): “Our strategy was to turn the best lap time very early on in the session. We succeeded. Unfortunately, our rivals then managed to drive a little faster. Towards the end of the session our tyres deteriorated to the point that we could no longer keep up.”
Laurens Vanthoor (911 RSR #912): “The conditions during the qualifying were different to those in the final free practice this morning. But we also have to cope with changing track conditions in tomorrow’s race. Our 911 RSR ran well. I was fast during my first lap, but I made a big mistake in the last corner. Everything then came together in the second lap.”
1. Sims/de Phillippi/Auberlen (GB/USA/USA), BMW M8, 1:55.839 minutes
2. Vilander/Pier Guidi/Calado (SF/I/I), Ferrari 488, + 0.058 seconds
3. Krohn/Edwards/Catsburg (SF/USA/NL), BMW M8, + 0.146
4. Westbrook/Briscoe/Dixon (GB/USA/NZL), Ford GT, + 0.259
5. Hand/Müller/Bourdais (USA/D/F), Ford GT, + 0.352
6. Vanthoor/Bamber/Bruni (B/NZ/I), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.412
7. Magnussen/Garcia/Rockenfeller (DK/E/D), Chevrolet Corvette, + 0.749
8. Tandy/Pilet/Makowiecki (GB/F/F), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.787
9. Gavin/Milner/Fässler (GB/USA/CH), Chevrolet Corvette, + 1.061
1. Serra/Della Lana/Lauda/Lamy (BRA/CAN/A/P), Ferrari 488, 1:58.710 minutes
2. Mies/van der Linde/Picariello (D/ZA/B), Audi R8, + 0.519 seconds
3. Hawksworth/Heinemeier Hansson/Rayhall (GB/DK/USA), Lexus, + 0.541
11. Long/Nielsen/Jaminet/Renauer (USA/DK/F/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 1.668
17. Bergmeister/Lindsey/Pappas (D/USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 5.940
This race is one of the great sports car classics. Immortalised on the winners’ list are Porsche legends such as Dan Gurney, Hans Hermann and Jacky Ickx, as well as the Formula One World Champions Juan Manuel Fangio and Mario Andretti. Hollywood stars have also fulfilled their racing dreams on the Sebring International Raceway: Paul Newman and Patrick Dempsey competed here, as did Steve McQueen, who even finished on the podium scoring second overall in 1970 with a Porsche 908. The 5.954-kilometre Sebring International Raceway, remodelled from a former US Air Force airfield, hosted the inaugural race on December 31, 1950.
The 12-hour race takes off on Saturday, 17 March, at 10.40am local time (15.40 hrs CET) and can be viewed live outside the USA on www.imsa.com.
The Porsche drivers
In Sebring, the #911 Porsche 911 RSR fielded by the Porsche GT Team is driven by Patrick Pilet (France), Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France). Sharing driving duties in the #912 cockpit are Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium), Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Gianmaria Bruni (Italy). Two customer teams tackle the GTD class with the 911 GT3 R and support from works drivers: Competing for Wright Motorsports are Patrick Long (USA), Porsche Young Professional Mathieu Jaminet (France), Robert Renauer (Germany) and 2018 Porsche Selected Driver Christina Nielsen (Denmark). Park Place Motorsports puts its trust in Jörg Bergmeister (Germany) and his American teammates Patrick Lindsey and Timothy Pappas.
The Porsche cars
In addition to the optimised setup of the 911 RSR, the reliability has been further improved for the round two of the season. 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 provide strong downforce and aerodynamic efficiency. For 2018, Porsche offers its customer teams an evo-kit for the 911 GT3 R. The more than 368 kW (500 hp) racer was designed for worldwide GT3 series on the basis of the 911 GT3 RS production sports car.
The Porsche success
Porsche’s first victory at the Sebring International Raceway came in 1960 courtesy of Hans Herrmann and Olivier Gendebien in the 718 RS/60. Since then, the sports car manufacturer has notched up a total of 18 overall victories and 70 class wins. The most recent success was in 2015 with the Porsche 911 GT America fielded by Alex Job Racing. One year prior, Jörg Bergmeister, Michael Christensen and Patrick Long triumped at the wheel of a Porsche 911 RSR. Since 1979, Porsche has netted 28 GT class victories, with a sports car from Zuffenhausen starting from the GT pole position 15 times. With these impressive successes and an unparalleled series of 13 straight outright victories between 1976 and 1988, Porsche is a Sebring record-holder.
The IMSA SportsCar Championship
The IMSA SportsCar Championship is a sports car racing series, which has been held in the USA and Canada since 2014. It was formed by merging the American Le Mans Series and the Grand-Am Series. Sport prototypes and sports cars start in three different classes: GTLM (GT Le Mans), GTD (GT Daytona) and P (Prototype). The Porsche 911 RSR competes in the GTLM class, the Porsche 911 GT3 R in the GTD class.
2018 race calendar
January 27/28 Daytona International Speedway, Daytona/Florida *
March 17 Sebring International Raceway, Sebring/Florida *
April 14 Long Beach Street Circuit, Long Beach/California
May 6 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington/Ohio
June 2 Detroit Belle Isle, Detroit/Michigan (only GTD/P)
July 1 Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen/New York *
July 8 Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Bowmanville/Ontario
July 21 Lime Rock Park, Lime Rock/Connecticut
August 5 Road America, Elkhart Lake/Wisconsin
August 19 Virginia International Raceway, Danville/Virginia
September 9 Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Monterey/California
October 13 Petit Le Mans, Road Atlanta, Braselton/Georgia *
* These races count towards the North American Endurance Cup.
911 GT3 RS: Fuel consumption combined 12.7 l/100 km; CO2 emissions 296 g/km