- Super Sebring. Porsche Extends Multiple Sebring Manufacturer Records.
- Back-To-Back. Porsche Scores IMSA 12-Hour Win For Second Consecutive Year.
- Pole to Podium. WEC Porsche 911 RSR Scores Pro and Am Wins at Sebring.
Event Story Lines.
Porsche Super Sebring. German Marque Extends Multiple Sebring Records.
Billed as the “Super Sebring” weekend, the 17-turn concrete Sebring International Raceway circuit played host to both the IMSA and the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) racing series for just the second time in history on March 13 – 16. The WEC held their 1,000-mile contest on the notoriously bumpy circuit on Friday, March 15, while IMSA retained their traditional Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on Saturday. The German marque extended multiple manufacturer records at the Central-Florida race track over the weekend further solidifying their stranglehold on the most prestigious records at the historic venue.
In the 67th running of the 12 Hours of Sebring, Porsche added class-win number 72 to the victory tally. That extends the manufacturer record to 44 titles over its nearest rival, Corvette. Porsche also continues to hold the overall victory record at 18 despite not having had an entry entered in the prototype class for nearly a decade. Porsche now has 30 GT-class wins since 1979 – when “GT” category continuity began. That is seven more wins for road car-based classes than Ferrari, who is second in the class.
Having entered every race since 1953, Porsche holds the unparalleled distinction of most years, 65, campaigning in North America’s oldest sports car racing event. In addition, the pole position run by Patrick Pilet (France) in the No. 911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR – a ride he shared with Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France) on the way to Saturday’s victory – further extended the Porsche record to 16 GT-class pole positions.
While this was only the second appearance of the World Endurance Championship at Sebring – the first coming in 2012 in a race-within-a-race during the Mobil 1 Twelve Hour – and Porsche brought home the pole position and LMGTE-Pro victory with the No. 91 Porsche GT Team 911 RSR of Gianmaria Bruni (Italy) and Richard Lietz (Austria). The No. 77 Dempsey Proton Racing team celebrated the win in the LMGTE-Am class with Porsche Young Professional Matt Campbell (Australia), Porsche Junior Julien Andlauer (France) and Christian Ried (Germany) rotating spots behind the wheel.
Back-To-Back. Porsche Scores IMSA 12-Hour Win For Second Consecutive Year.
Porsche notched another victory in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring – number 72 in the marque’s 65 years of competition at Sebring International Raceway. Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and his French teammates Patrick Pilet and Frédéric Makowiecki took the flag in first-place driving the No. 911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR at round two of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship on March 16. With this success, the trio repeated their win in the event from last year. The No. 912 sister car driven by Earl Bamber (New Zealand), Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and Mathieu Jaminet (France) finished the long-distance classic in Central Florida in fifth-place.
For only its second time in history – the first time since the inaugural run in 1952 – the race on the 3.74-mile, 17-turn circuit started the race in the rain. The No. 911 led the field from the GTLM pole position by virtue of Pilet’s qualifying lap the day before. The start clock began its countdown under yellow-flag conditions, , as standing water covered the former World War II bomber base race track . When the green flew over 45-minutes in, a lack of grip in the heavy rain initially hurt the lap times of the 510 HP machines, dropping them down in the field. As conditions improved near the race’s six-hour mark, the experienced Porsche GT Team utilized the strengths of the car. With key tactical decisions, strong driving and flawless teamwork, the No. 911 car fought its way back to be among the leaders. In a gripping final two hours, Tandy was able to make a pass for the lead, fend off the competition and cross the finish line after twelve hours with a 1.951-second lead over the runner-up. Tandy, Pilet and Makowiecki are the first driver trio to win the IMSA race at Sebring in consecutive years.
The success at Sebring positions the No. 911 Porsche GT Team first in the GTLM team point standings. The No. 912 line-up fell back two laps in the early phase, but the Rolex 24 At Daytona podium-finishers put in a spirited charge through the field, and took the checkered flag in fifth-place.
In the GTD class, the Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by the Pfaff Motorsports customer team held the lead for nearly half of the race distance. Despite this strong performance from Porsche development driver Lars Kern (Germany) and his Canadian teammates Scott Hargrove and Zach Robichon, both Porsche Young Driver Academy participants and Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama Champions, did not render the desired results. A faulty sensor in the 500 hp GT3 racer from Weissach, Germany forced the team to pit for repairs while in full contention for the race win. The lost track time resulted in a tenth-place finish. Prior to this, the trio had held a comfortable lead over long stretches. In the 911 GT3 R entered by Park Place Motorsports, Porsche factory driver Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California) and his compatriots Nicholas Boulle (Dallas, Texas) and Patrick Lindsey (Santa Barbara, California) finished with a sixth-place result.
Round three of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will be contested on April 13 on the street circuit in Long Beach, California.
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President Motorsport.
“I’ve been in motorsport for a long time, but I’ve never experienced anything like this. Within 48 hours we won a 1,000-mile race and a twelve-hour race with our factory teams at one venue. That’s phenomenal. I was impressed by how focused every single person worked. That’s what sets Porsche apart. And we mustn’t forget the successful performances from our customer teams. It was one of the best motor racing weekends I’ve ever experienced – just brilliant.”
Pascal Zurlinden, Director GT Factory Motorsport.
“Perhaps we should rename the event the ‘Porsche Super Sebring’ race weekend. Three pole positions, three victories – what more could you want. Our team did everything right. Ultimately, when things went down to the wire, we were there. The key moment was when we reclaimed the lead after a perfectly timed pit stop. Our strategy was to wait and strike at the right moment. Now it’s time to celebrate!”
Patrick Pilet, Driver, No. 911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“It somehow feels unreal. We started from pole position, and then we were running last, and now we celebrate our second Sebring victory in a row – unbelievable! Our team is simply something very special. We never gave up, we always believed that we had a chance and now we’re standing here as winners. It’s indescribable.”
Nick Tandy, Driver, No. 911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“It was a totally crazy race that one rarely experiences. We got the lot: extremely wet at the beginning, a dry track, then predicted rain, which didn’t happen. We started from pole, then quickly fell back, only to end up in the lead again. You only get such things at a long-distance race. And this is the precisely the kind of discipline that Porsche excels at. Never give up, always push and then pull out all stops at the right moment. That’s how it’s done.”
Frédéric Makowiecki, Driver, No. 911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“I’m lost for words. We had major problems in the rain early on in the race, but we battled our way forward again in an incredible manner. Like last year, it was a perfect team effort. With such successes, it really becomes clear just how important it is for the entire squad to work perfectly.”
Earl Bamber, Driver, No. 912 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“Initially, both Porsche 911 RSR lost ground in the rain. But we got faster later on. Unfortunately, the timing of a pit stop didn’t work out for us. While our sister car regained the lead, we were still a lap down. We fought hard, but we couldn’t really do much. Congratulations to our colleagues. It was a dream weekend for Porsche.”
Laurens Vanthoor, Driver, No. 912 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“Unfortunately, we lost too much time in the rainy start phase. Otherwise we could have fought for victory. Our car was incredibly good, especially on slicks in the final phase. For me personally, I’m a bit disappointed. But it is outweighed by the joy of an incredibly successful weekend for Porsche.”
Mathieu Jaminet, Driver, No. 912 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“Of course I’d have loved to win, so I regard this weekend with mixed feelings. From Porsche’s point of view, however, it was a dream. From our perspective, for the number 912 car, it’s kind of sad. We could have won, too, but it didn’t work out this time. Still, we’re delighted for our teammates.”
Pole to Podium. WEC Porsche 911 RSR Scores Pro and Am Wins at Sebring.
Scoring a pair of class wins from pole position at the 1,000-miles of Sebring race on Friday, March 15, Porsche teams extended their points lead in both the LMGTE-Pro and LMGTE-Am classes of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). Gianmaria Bruni (Italy) and Richard Lietz (Austria) won round six of the WEC at the legendary Central Florida racetrack in the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR. Their works driver colleagues, Kévin Estre (France) and Michael Christensen (Denmark), finished in fifth-place in the ca. 510-hp sports car from Weissach, Germany.
With two races remaining in the season, the duo in the No. 92 car holds a clear championship lead. In the manufacturer’s classification, Porsche has further extended its top position. In the LMGTE-Am class, the Dempsey Proton Racing squad notched its second consecutive win while Team Project 1 built on its team and driver championship lead.
The Sebring race, which ran the full eight hours on the 3.74-mile circuit, continued without incident over long stretches for Bruni and Lietz. Deep into the race, the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR was running in second-place when rain set in with less than 30-minutes before the finish. The rain required an unplanned pit stop for Michelin rain tires. The stop by the Manthey-Racing factory crew moved the Porsche GT Team into the lead. With this, the winning driver squad have improved their ranking in the championship and moved up to second-place. Their world-championship-leading teammates experienced a race of mixed fortunes. Estre was unable to defend his pole position after the start, collided with an opponent in the ensuing chase and fell through the field due to a stop-and-go penalty.
In the LMGTE-Am category, the Dempsey Proton Racing team celebrated a second-consecutive win. Porsche Young Professional Matt Campbell (Australia), Porsche Junior Julien Andlauer (France) and Christian Ried (Germany) were rewarded for their consistent drive with a victory. The Porsche customer program, Team Project 1 with works drivers Jörg Bergmeister (Germany), Patrick Lindsey (Santa Barbara, California) and Egidio Perfetti (Norway) secured a third-place finish to extend their GTE-Am championship lead. Gulf Racing with Porsche Junior Thomas Preining (Austria) and the two British racing drivers Ben Barker and Michael Wainwright finished just off the podium in fourth-place. The No. 88 car fielded by Dempsey Proton Racing and driven by Porsche Young Professional Matteo Cairoli (Italy) and his compatriots Giorgio Roda and Gianluca Roda crossed the finish line in seventh-place.
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President Motorsport.
“I’m totally delighted. After clinching pole position in both the WEC and IMSA and now winning the first of two races in Sebring, and in such difficult conditions in the closing stages – you don’t get it better than this. I’m also very proud of our customer teams who did brilliantly in the GTE-Am class.”
Pascal Zurlinden, Director GT Factory Motorsport.
“At the last pit stop in the rain, our team did an immaculate tire change and, with the better strategy, managed to make up more than five seconds over the previously leading BMW. Congratulations to the mechanics – they made this victory possible. A one-two result would also have been possible today. Unfortunately, a penalty threw our number 92 car down the field. Still, we’ve extended our lead in the world championship and we’re extremely pleased.”
Gianmaria Bruni, Driver, No. 91 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“It’s a fantastic result for us drivers and for Porsche. The way the team managed to catapult us to the front at the last pit stop was simply sensational. This shows just how special our crew is. The fact that we were able to win the 1,000-mile race at the return of the WEC to Sebring is incredible. For me personally it’s even more special: it’s the first time I’ve won a race for Porsche. That means so much to me.”
Richard Lietz, Driver, No. 91 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“The rain at the end was a blessing. Gimmi managed to keep the car steady on the wet track and the team worked at lightning speed. That was the decisive factor in the race. Everything ran perfectly for us. I’m totally over the moon with my first win of this season.”
Kévin Estre, Driver, No. 92 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“What a huge race. Our car was really strong, but unfortunately we didn’t get ahead because of an incident. I was locked in a fight with an Aston Martin and had the better line out the corner and wanted to go for it. I touched him slightly and he spun – my mistake. The penalty cost us a possible victory and many points. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s still a shame.”
Michael Christensen, Driver, No. 92 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“Congratulations to Gimmi and Richie on their victory. Obviously I would have liked to stand at the top of the podium, but you can’t always win. The situation still looks good for us in the series. We travel to Spa as the leaders of the world championship.”
Jörg Bergmeister, Driver, No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR.
“We’ve cut our loses – very successfully. By finishing in third-place we’ve defended our lead in the championship and that was our main goal. Our car was strong in the race, although the balance was off due to a collision that wasn’t our fault. We made the best out of these circumstances.”
Matt Campbell, Driver, No. 77 Dempsey Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR.“The conditions were really tricky towards the end, but we still managed to bring home the victory. I’m really relieved because things can quickly go wrong in the rain. At the end of the day it’s a perfect result and a banner day for Porsche. To win at Bathurst and Sebring within just six weeks is truly amazing.”