On the Circuit of the Americas, the Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC heads into the second half of the season, while the Tudor United SportsCar Championship runs its penultimate race of the 2015 season. In this hotly-contested North American sports car series, which concludes with the Petit Le Mans race at Road Atlanta on 3 October, Porsche leads all championship classifications in the GTLM class. In the WEC, victory at the Nürburgring has put Porsche factory driver Richard Lietz in the lead of the World Endurance Cup for GT Pilots.
On the circuit southwest of the Texas capital near the Colorado River, race fans can look forward to experiencing the great fascination of Porsche GT sport and witness three of the successful GT racers from Weissach in action – the 911 RSR, the 911 GT America, as well as the 911 GT3 Cup in a double-header event as part of the GT3 Cup Challenge USA. A total of nine Porsche GT works drivers will tackle the WEC and the Tudor United SportsCar Championship for the Porsche Manthey and the Porsche North America squads.
In the WEC, the Porsche Manthey outfit fields a pair of Porsche 911 RSR on the 5.513-kilometre Grand Prix circuit: Michael Christensen (Denmark) and Richard Lietz (Austria), the winners of the Nürburgring round, share driving duties in number 91 Porsche 911 RSR in the GTE-Pro class, with their French teammates Frédéric Makowiecki and Patrick Pilet manning the nine-eleven with the starting number 92 in the same class. Two customer teams take on the GTE-Am class running the 911 RSR: Dempsey Proton Racing with the American actor and race driver Patrick Dempsey as well as Patrick Long (USA), and Abu Dhabi Proton Racing with New Zealander Earl Bamber, who recently supported the squad at the Nürburgring.
The Le Mans outright winner joins forces with Jörg Bergmeister (Germany) in the number 912 Porsche 911 RSR to also tackle the Tudor United SportsCar Championship for Porsche North America. Patrick Pilet will contest two races, as well. The points’ leader in the GTLM drivers’ classification of the Tudor United SportsCar Championship shares the cockpit of Porsche North America’s second 911 RSR (#911) with Le Mans overall winner Nick Tandy (Great Britain). The duo has won the last three races at Bowmanville, Road America and Danville. Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Bryan Sellers (USA), the winners of the six-hour classic at Watkins Glen, again take up the challenge for the Falken Tire customer team.
Moreover, another six factory pilots will contest the WEC in a third Porsche works team-entry campaigning two 919 Hybrids. The number 17 car will be shared by Timo Bernhard (DE), Brendon Hartley (NZ) and Mark Webber (AU). The number 18 sister car will be in the hands of Romain Dumas (FR), Neel Jani (CH) and Marc Lieb (DE). The Porsche 919 Hybrid is a research laboratory for future sports car technology. It is powered by a downsizing two-litre V4-cylinder turbo charged petrol engine and an electric engine, which is fed by two energy recovery systems (brake energy from the front axle and exhaust energy). This unique and ground-breaking power train temporarily turns the 919 into a four-wheel drive car with a system performance of around 1,000 hp.
Since the 919’s debut back in 2014, it has won three races: Interlagos 2014, Le Mans and Nürburgring 2015. The car has entered 12 races in total and started from pole position eight times. To date in 2015, a 919 has been on pole for every race. Porsche leads the manufacturers’ World Championship, with 184 points ahead of Audi on 151 and followed by Toyota on 89. In the drivers’ standings, Bernhard/Hartley/Webber improved to second place, with the gap to the leading Audi trio reduced to 17 points. With a tally of just two points less, teammates Dumas/Jani/Lieb are in third place.
The Porsche Team had a promising first day of practice before the fifth of the eight rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) in Austin. In both the two 90-minute free practice sessions on the spectacular 5.513 kilometre long Grand Prix circuit a Porsche 919 Hybrid has topped the time sheets. After the first session took place in the afternoon with track temperatures way over 40 degrees Celsius and ambient temperatures in the mid thirties, the second session was held after sunset. Each of the drivers had to complete five mandatory laps in the dark.
Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport: “Porsche brings a large works contingent to Austin again this year. It’s a tremendous event with all three factory teams competing. This is perfect for us, because we’re all at the track together and it’ll be great for the many Porsche fans – they’re in for a real treat. Austin is a fantastic, very demanding circuit and therefore poses a real challenge for our drivers and teams. After a total of five straight wins in the Tudor United SportsCar Championship and the WEC we are well prepared and keen to once again give the best possible performance with our 911 RSR.”
Marco Ujhasi, Overall Project Leader GT Works Motorsport: “The Circuit of the Americas is a wonderful track. It has everything: slow corners, fast corners. The challenge is to find the right mechanical setup for the slow corners and the perfect aerodynamic balance for the fast bends. High temperatures could be another decisive factor. Whoever gauges it right and opts for the correct tyres at the start has an advantage. We’re going testing in Austin beforehand. If we make the most of the tests then I’ll feel confident for the race.”
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1: “The second half of the World Championship with the races in Austin, Fuji, Shanghai and Bahrain is all about fighting for the titles. Porsche is focusing on the manufacturers’ crown, but the drivers’ ranking isn’t any less exciting. Our driver crews are 19 and 17 points behind the currently leading trio from Audi, which means they are both within reach of the top. In 2014 COTA was the season’s most difficult track for us. This year we hope to be able to fight for another race win there. But we don’t expect to be dominant like we were at the Nürburgring.”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: “We have a great deal of respect ahead of the remaining rounds. Situations can change quickly, and you should never forget that first of all you have to survive the race distances. You can always have incidents. Regarding knowledge of the track, as well as the logistical challenge of flying 32 tons of air freight around the world, we are certainly benefiting in 2015 from what we learnt in our debut season.”
Please find quotes of the drivers in the press release on the left.
The six-hour race on the Circuit of the Americas takes off on Saturday, 19 September, at 17.00 hours local time (Sunday 00.00 hrs CEST). TV station Eurosport broadcasts the entire race and the podium ceremony live. The Tudor United SportsCar Championship event gets underway on Saturday at 11.35 hours local time (18.35 CEST) and runs over 2:40 hours. The race can be seen live on www.imsa.com.