Nick Tandy and Mathieu Jaminet were successful in defending their lead in the drivers’ championship. In the two consecutive IMSA races in California, the British-French works driver duo earned more points than any other driver pairing: They followed up their victory in Long Beach with second place in Laguna Seca. In the manufacturers’ classification, Porsche has advanced to second place. Porsche Penske Motorsport also ranks second in the team championship. On the way to scoring a podium result on the track close to the harbor of Monterey at the Pacific, the works squad had to overcome numerous hurdles.
In sunshine and cool temperatures, the two hybrid prototypes fielded by Porsche Penske Motorsport tackled the race over 2:40 hours from the first grid row. The first setback came right after the start: Matt Campbell missed the braking point at the wheel of the No. 7 pole-setting car and fell back to sixth place. His teammate Jaminet dropped to third place in the early stages of the race. After 20 minutes, misfortune returned for Campbell. After making contact with a GT car, the Australian was handed a drive-through penalty, which relegated him to the back of the GTP field. During a full course yellow, he handed the No. 7 car to his teammate Felipe Nasr. Bad luck also plagued the Brazilian. After a restart, he slid off the track and crashed into the barriers with the 500+ kW (680 PS) prototype. The repairs cost him eight laps to the top. As a result, Campbell/Nasr were out of contention.
Meanwhile, from the halfway point in the race, the sister car of the Long Beach winners ploughed its way up the order. Nick Tandy gave an impressive performance putting in a spirited drive, particularly during the last stint. In the final phase, the UK driver and 2015 outright Le Mans winner with Porsche attempted some bold overtaking moves, which catapulted him from fourth to second place with 20 minutes remaining. At the flag, the No. 6 car was just 3.882 seconds shy of clinching its second victory of the season.
“We had both cars on the front grid row. So, second place in the race is not what we had hoped for,” says Urs Kuratle, Director Factory Motorsport LMDh, summing up the situation. “We fought our way back well with car number 6. We need to learn from the things that happened to us today with the sister car. The team did a great job. Our strategy was promising. We did well at Laguna Seca this weekend. Our success is thanks to consistent progress. The Porsche Penske Motorsport crews on both sides of the Atlantic and all the employees at the Development Centre in Weissach played a part in this. It was also great to see how JDC-Miller MotorSports performed at its first outing with the Porsche 963. The team is learning rapidly and making good progress. Congratulations as well to Porsche’s successful GT customer teams.”
JDC-Miller MotorSports’ Porsche 963 wraps up its strong debut in seventh
The Porsche 963 campaigned by the customer team JDC-Miller MotorSports made a convincing debut in the GTP class. The American squad arrived in Laguna Seca without a single kilometer of testing and experienced a steep learning curve during the weekend in California. The 19-year-old Dutchman Tijmen van der Helm and the seasoned specialist from Germany Mike Rockenfeller gained momentum as the race progressed and ultimately finished in a respectable seventh place with the No. 5 car. “That was eventful. We learned a lot about the car, the tires, the brakes and much more,” says team co-owner John Church. “We’re not yet matching the pace of the competition but we’ve steadily improved. We made it over the distance and there’s not a single scratch on the car.”
Porsche 911 GT3 R wins the GTD class, Pfaff Motorsports finishes on podium
Porsche’s customer teams took full advantage of the new 911 GT3 R’s strengths in Laguna Seca. In the GTD class, amateur driver Alan Metni and the talented youngster Kay van Berlo drove to victory. The Dutchman, who is supported by Porsche Motorsport North America as a Porsche Selected Driver, laid the foundation for his win with the No. 91 car in the final stint. At the same time, the former Porsche Junior Julien Andlauer achieved third place in the sister car fielded by Kellymoss with Riley. The Frenchman shared the cockpit with Alec Udell from America. Wright Motorsports’ No. 77 entry finished sixth, with AO Racing’s 911 GT3 R “Rexy” decked out in a dinosaur livery crossing the finish line in eleventh place. In the GTD-Pro category, Pfaff Motorsports once again demonstrated its prowess. Despite receiving two penalties, Austria’s Klaus Bachler and Frenchman Patrick Pilet worked their way up to third place.
Porsche Penske Motorsport gains ground in the overall classification of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. In the manufacturer and team championship, Porsche ranks second. In the drivers’ classification, Mathieu Jaminet and Nick Tandy have now built a 25-point advantage over their closest rivals. Round five of the North American IMSA series will be contested on June 25 at Watkins Glen in New York state. Two weeks before that, the Porsche Penske Motorsport works squad will field three Porsche 963 at Le Mans sporting an anniversary livery on the occasion of the 75th celebration of the Stuttgart sports car brand. On June, 10/11 the 24-hour classic celebrates its 100th anniversary.
Drivers’ comments after the race
Nick Tandy (Porsche 963 #6): “It was an exciting race; I thoroughly enjoyed it and we scored a lot of points. It was interesting that the different GTP cars had very different paces after the restarts. That made for some spectacular action. I would’ve preferred a more uneventful race, but it was still a lot of fun. We got the most out of it. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about, because we certainly won’t be able to win every race. Now we’ve been on the podium three times in four races – that’s something to be proud of!”
Felipe Nasr (Porsche 963 #7): “Obviously, that wasn’t what we had hoped for. Our number 7 crew deserved better. We had the pace to fight for victory. That was obvious in the qualifying and race. I’m sorry that I crashed. After the restart, I saw the chance to grab two positions at once. I gave it everything, the rear of my car got away from me - that was it. I had no chance of catching the car. Now I’m looking ahead to Le Mans and the next IMSA race at Watkins Glen.”
Mike Rockenfeller (Porsche 963 #5): “Our first outing with the Porsche 963 went really well. The car wasn’t easy to drive, but I’m sure everyone struggled with a lack of grip. Seventh place is obviously not our goal. We want to get on the podium, but we also have to be realistic. We learned a lot. For example, I experimented with the brake balance during the race. It feels like there are 500 different configuration options. You first have to try them all out. Jokes aside, it was a good start for us. Thanks to the team, they worked very well.”
Patrick Pilet (Porsche 911 GT3 R #9): “First, we were given a 60-second penalty, then another drive-through penalty - all in all, it wasn’t easy. Nevertheless, we didn't give up. The team did everything right strategically and got us back into the leading group. At one point I thought we might even have a chance of winning, but then the tires deteriorated surprisingly quickly. Overall, we’re satisfied, although we weren’t quite as fast as we’d have liked. We’ll continue to work on improvements.”
Kay van Berlo (Porsche 911 GT3 R #91): “What a great day for our team! After the difficult first races of the season, we never gave up and kept working hard on improving. We reaped the rewards here. My teammate Alan drove a first-class race and I was able to wrap up the success in the end. The Porsche 911 GT3 R was great to drive today. It was an absolute pleasure. I’m so happy that our team finally achieved such a strong result with first and third place.”
Julien Andlauer (Porsche 911 GT3 R #92): “After the difficulties we’ve had since the start of the season at Daytona, this result feels great. We were very strong throughout the weekend; the car ran perfectly. Of course, I would have liked to be at the top of the podium, but the sister car was a touch better. My colleagues deserve this victory. I’m delighted for our team Kellymoss with Riley, who worked incredibly hard for this success.”
1. Bourdais/van der Zande (F/NL), Cadillac #01, 102 laps
2. Tandy/Jaminet (UK/F), Porsche 963 #6, 102 laps
3. Derani/Sims (BR/UK), Cadillac #31, 102 laps
7. Rockenfeller/van der Helm (D/NL), Porsche 963 #5, 102 laps
9. Campbell/Nasr (AUS/BR), Porsche 963 #7, 94 laps
1. Juncadella/Gounon (E/F), Mercedes-AMG #79, 97 laps
2. Hawksworth/Barnicoat (UK/UK), Lexus #14, 97 laps
3. Bachler/Pilet (A/F), Porsche 911 GT3 R #9, 97 laps
1. Metni/van Berlo (USA/NL), Porsche 911 GT3 R #91, 97 laps
2. Auberlen/Hull (USA/USA), BMW #97, 97 laps
3. Udell/Andlauer (USA/F), Porsche 911 GT3 R #92, 97 laps
6. Brynjolfsson/Hindman (USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R #77, 97 laps
11. Jeannette/Priaulx (USA/UK), Porsche 911 GT3 R #80, 97 laps