For the trio sharing the cockpit of Pfaff Motorsports’ No. 9 entry, this result is enough to retain their lead in the GTD Pro class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The identical model fielded by WeatherTech Racing crossed the finish line in P6.
Despite the seven caution phases, the 70th edition of the endurance classic turned out to be uncharacteristically static. In air temperatures of over 30 degrees Celsius in the Florida “Sunshine State”, the positions in the GT class were set shortly after the start. All of Porsche’s strong and experienced customer teams put in flawless performances and implemented great strategies, but the cars never came within striking distance of the podium.
“After the class victories at Daytona and last year’s win at Sebring, we’d expected more. Unfortunately, the performance of the Porsche 911 GT3 R wasn’t what we’d hoped for,” concludes Thomas Laudenbach, Vice President Porsche Motorsport. “We’ll take a close look at reasons behind these disappointing performances. Facing fierce competition in the two GTD classes, our strong customer teams never gave up and they gave their utmost to the very last lap. That deserves our highest respect. I’m positive that our 911 GT3 R will be at the top again at the upcoming race in Long Beach.”
“We’re disappointed – obviously,” states Sebastian Golz. The Porsche 911 GT3 R Project Manager adds: “Once again, our customer teams did a great job. Unfortunately, in today’s race, our car wasn’t as competitive as usual. We’ll take a good look at whether this was due to the high temperatures or the grip conditions on the track. We’re not happy with this result, but we’re still confident about the upcoming races. And you mustn’t forget, Porsche is the most successful manufacturer at the Sebring race. We have 100 class wins to our credit – more than all other manufacturers combined.”
#IMSA - Checkered flags @IMSA #Sebring12. Not the results we wanted. Here are the #Porsche #911GT3R positions after 12 hours of racing @sebringraceway ⬇️— Porsche Motorsport (@PorscheRaces) March 20, 2022
P5 - No. 9 @pfaffmotorsport
P6 - No. 79 @RaceWeatherTech
P8 - No. 99 @hardpointteam
P10 - No. 16 @WrightRac1ng pic.twitter.com/C81fX1MdZB
In the GTD category, the American Rob Ferriol, Britain’s Katherine Legge and her fellow countryman Stefan Wilson finished in eighth place. After being dealt a setback in free practice, the Hardpoint squad made an impressive comeback in the race. The 367 kW (500 PS) nine-eleven (No. 99) was irreparably damaged after an accident on Thursday. The crew from the US state of Virginia built a replacement chassis in time for the start of the 12-hour race. Bad luck plagued the Daytona-winning team Wright Motorsports. Start driver Zacharie Robichon from Canada, who had planted the No. 16 car on pole position in the GTD class the previous day, came into the pits after just three laps. The technicians discovered a defect in the differential. The repairs, which took over 30 minutes, threw the outfit from the US state of Ohio 18 laps behind. Wright Motorsports’ 911 GT3 R ultimately took the flag in tenth place.
Round three of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship on 10 April will be contested on the spectacular street circuit in the Californian port city of Long Beach.
Drivers’ comments on the race
Mathieu Jaminet (Porsche 911 GT3 R #9): “Fifth place was the most we could achieve today. It was already clear in qualifying that it wasn’t going to be easy. Unfortunately, it turned out to be even worse in the race. We just didn’t have the necessary pace. We need to carefully analyse this result and react accordingly. I’m certain that we’ll be fighting for the podium again at the upcoming Long Beach race.”
Alessio Picariello (Porsche 911 GT3 R #79): “We never really got up to speed the whole weekend. Our race was flawless, without incidents, without mistakes and with really quick pit stops. Our team and drivers did everything possible. Unfortunately, we simply weren’t the fastest on the track today.”
Rob Ferriol (Porsche 911 GT3 R #99): “It wasn’t our best Sebring result, but 24 hours before the race we pretty much didn’t have a car. Our team built a replacement vehicle in practically no time at all and everything worked. That’s a huge compliment for Porsche. You take the parts that still work from a crashed car, put them on another chassis, start from the back of the grid and finish in the top ten in the toughest race of the season. That’s incredible. Hats off to our team, who demonstrated they can overcome even the greatest challenges.”
Zacharie Robichon (Porsche 911 GT3 R #16): “Lately, we’ve always been lucky and had a really great run. It was clear that this had to end at some point. Of course, it was a real shame that this happened only a few minutes into the Sebring race. The defect threw us back a long way, but we never gave up. Our team repaired the car quickly, we caught up and finished in the top ten. Not the desired result, but that’s what happens sometimes.”
Result GTD-Pro class
1. Garcia/Taylor/Catsburg (E/USA/NL), Corvette C8.R GTD #3, 323 laps
2. Bortolotti/Mapelli/Caldarelli (I/I/I), Lamborghini Huracan GT3 #63, 323 laps
3. MacNeil/Engel/Gounon (USA/D/F), Mercedes-AMG GT3 #97, 322 laps
5. Campbell/Jaminet/Nasr (AUS/F/BR), Porsche 911 GT3 R #9, 322 laps
6. Andlauer/Picariello/MacNeil (F/B/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R #79, 322 laps
Result GTD class
1. Lacorte/Sernagiotto/Fuoco (I/I/I), Ferrari 488 GT3 #47, 321 laps
2. Skeen/McAleer/Juncadella (USA/GB/E), Mercedes-AMG GT3 #32, 321 laps
3. Mann/Perez Companc/Vilander (USA/ARG/FIN), Ferrari 488 GT3 #21, 321 laps
8. Ferriol/Legge/Wilson (USA/GB/GB), Porsche 911 GT3 R #88, 318 laps
10. Hardwick/Heylen/Robichon (USA/B/CDN), Porsche 911 GT3 R #16, 305 laps
Porsche customer teams head to the 12 Hours of Sebring as the leaders of the GTD-Pro and GTD classes. Four Porsche 911 GT3 R racing cars will tackle round two of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. For the race, the Canadian shares driving duties in the nine-eleven with Jan Heylen from Belgium and Ryan Hardwick from the USA. In January, the trio had won the 24 Hours of Daytona with Porsche works driver Richard Lietz (Austria) and thus took the lead of the championship. The two 911 GT3 R in the GTD-Pro class qualified on positions five and ten.
“Congratulations to the Wright Motorsports customer squad. The grid position for the upcoming endurance classic is ideal,” says Sebastian Golz, Project Manager Porsche 911 GT3 R. “In the GTD-Pro class, the qualifying drivers from Pfaff Motorsports and WeatherTech Racing experienced a bit of bad luck with heavy traffic. The fact that the short 15-minute session was interrupted by red flags didn’t help either. The race will be long and tough and the gaps in both classes are very close. It’ll definitely be exciting and spectacular.”
All three Porsche customer teams immediately went in pursuit of top times
In temperatures of 19 degrees Celsius and a light mist over the 6.02-kilometre racetrack in Florida, all three Porsche customer teams immediately went in pursuit of top times. However, a damaged vehicle interrupted the session early on. When the track finally went green again with six minutes left on the clock, Zacharie Robichon was ready: On the storied racetrack, famed for its gruelling bumps, the Canadian made the best use of his tyres to turn the fastest time in 1:59.763 minutes. In the GTD-Pro class, the Australian Matt Campbell scored P5 in Pfaff Motorsports’ No. 9 entry shortly before the finish. Julien Andlauer (France) was hampered by heavy traffic in WeatherTech Racing’s No. 79 car and came tenth.
The American customer squad Hardpoint was unable to take part in qualifying for the 70th edition of the endurance classic in Florida. The No. 99 Porsche 911 GT3 R was damaged in an accident during free practice on Thursday evening. The team from the US state of Virginia are currently building a replacement chassis and will start the second race of the season from the back of the grid.
Drivers’ qualifying quotes
Zacharie Robichon (Porsche 911 GT3 R #16): “It was clear before the start of our qualifying that the car was really good, but we still didn’t really know how we would perform in one fast lap. I tackled the matter strategically and drove cautiously in the first couple of laps. When a clear run opened up, it was all or nothing. I only had this one chance without the pesky traffic – and everything came together perfectly! Pole position doesn’t really play a major role in a 12-hour race, but it’s a great feeling and it gives you extra motivation.”
Matt Campbell (Porsche 911 GT3 R #9): “Fifth place is what we’d expected for the qualifying prior to the session. Obviously, we would’ve preferred pole position, but that wasn’t realistic. We’re satisfied because our car is well balanced. We now have the rest of the day to take another close look at the data. Perhaps we’ll find an even better setup for the race. Let’s see.”
Julien Andlauer (Porsche 911 GT3 R #79): “I was held up by traffic but we also made some set-up adjustments prior to the qualifying. Unfortunately, that went in the wrong direction. We urgently need to make some noticeable improvements before the race starts, otherwise it’ll be difficult. The balance isn’t great, so the performance is currently not there. But I’m confident that we’ll make good progress.”
Result GTD-Pro class
1. Serra/Rigon/Cheever (I/I/USA), Ferrari 488 GT3 #62, 1:59.414 minutes
2. Bortolotti/Mapelli/Caldarelli (I/I/I), Lamborghini Huracan GT3 #63, 1:59.431 minutes
3. Garcia/Taylor/Catsburg (E/USA/NL), Corvette C8.R GTD #3, 1:59.927 minutes
5. Campbell/Jaminet/Nasr (AUS/F/BR), Porsche 911 GT3 R #9, 1:59.982 minutes
10. Andlauer/Picariello/MacNeil (F/B/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R #79, 2:00.951 minutes
Result GTD class
1. Hardwick/Heylen/Robichon (USA/B/CDN), Porsche 911 GT3 R #16, 1:59.763 minutes
2. Foley/Auberlen/Dinan (USA/USA/USA), BMW M4 GT3 #96, 1:59.788 minutes
3. Ward/Ellis/Dienst (USA/CH/D), Mercedes-AMG GT3 #57, 1:59.848 minutes
DNS. Ferriol/Legge/Wilson (USA/GB/GB), Porsche 911 GT3 R #88, no lap time