Porsche defends championship lead
In the Tudor United SportsCar Championship, Porsche still holds the GTLM class lead in all categories. The Porsche 911 RSR narrowly missed out on clinching an almost certain fourth double victory.
Porsche travels as the points’ leader to the final race of the 2015 United SportsCar Championship held on October 3 on the storied Road Atlanta race track. As the best Porsche pilots, Le Mans winner Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and the drivers’ championship leader Patrick Pilet (France) took the flag in third. With the 470 hp winning racer from Weissach, which is based on the seventh generation of the iconic 911 sports car, the pair has won the last three rounds of the most important sports car championship on the North American continent.
Trailing the winners from Bowmanville, Road America and Virginia over the line in fourth place were Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Bryan Sellers (USA) at the wheel of the 911 RSR fielded by the Falken Tire customer squad. Scoring victory at Watkins Glen, the duo clinched the first of four straight wins for Porsche. Fifth place went to Le Mans winner Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Jörg Bergmeister (Germany) crewing the second 911 RSR of Porsche North America.
Three Porsche 911 RSR at the front
With the thermometer measuring 35 degrees Celsius and a track temperature of 60 degrees Celsius, the penultimate round of the United SportsCar Championship on the outskirts of the Texas capital pushed drivers and teams to the limit – especially Patrick Pilet and Earl Bamber who also contested the Sports Car World Endurance Championship (WEC) for Porsche in the late afternoon on the Circuit of the Americas. Making a superb getaway, the pair got the jump off the line to take the lead of the strong GT field, with Wolf Henzler catching up in the first lap. With three Porsche 911 RSR at the front, everything was running to plan in the opening phase.
The serial winners maintained their strong performance over the course of the 2.40-hour race. At the wheel of the number 911 vehicle, Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet were running at the front followed by Earl Bamber and Jörg Bergmeister. But just as the fans in the grandstand were counting on Porsche achieving the fifth straight win and the third one-two in a row, fortunes changed. Because the race on the Grand Prix circuit, with its wide run-off zones, was only slowed down by two caution phases, which reduce fuel consumption, the leading 911 RSR racers got low on fuel. With one lap to the flag, they had to come in for a splash-and-dash pit stop, which cost them an almost sure double victory.
It’ll be exciting
Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport: “From a results point of view it’s obviously very disappointing. We were running in the lead over the entire race but had to call our 911 RSR into the pits for a splash of fuel. That cost us victory. But we still scored third place. We certainly deserved better today, but now we’re turning our attention to the final round at Atlanta. We’re still leading the championship, so it’ll be exciting.”
Petit Le Mans on 3 October marks the season finale of the United SportsCar Championship. It is contested on the storied Road Atlanta race track at Bowmanville (US state of Georgia).
1. Auberlen/Werner (USA/D), BMW Z4 GTE, 72 Runden
2. Kaffer/Fisichella (D/I), Ferrari F458 Italia, 72
3. Pilet/Tandy (F/GB), Porsche 911 RSR, 72
4. Henzler/Sellers (D/USA), Porsche 911 RSR, 72
5. Bamber/Bergmeister (NZ/D), Porsche 911 RSR, 72
6. Magnussen/Garcia (DK/E), Chevrolet Corvette, 72
7. Edwards/Luhr (USA/D), BMW Z4 GTE, 72
8. Gavin/Milner (GB/USA), Chevrolet Corvette, 72
1. Bleekemolen/Keating (NL/USA), Dodge Viper SRT, 69 Runde
2. Palttala/Marsal (SF/USA), BMW Z4, 69
3. Haase/von Moltke (D/USA), Audi R8 LMS, 69
4. Farnbacher/James (D/USA), Porsche 911 GT America, 69
5. Lindsey/Pumpelly (USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT America, 69
6. Sweedler/Bell (USA/USA), Ferrari 458 Italia, 69