What a race, and I mean what a race. Right from the start the team of Patrick Pilet, Dirk Werner and Frédéric Makowiecki were performing brilliantly, as was their new 911 RSR. With one fast lap after another the #911 car was in second place as we headed into the last hour of the race. Then with the waive of a yellow flag, and a full course caution, the GTLM leaders raced to the pits for fuel and tires. Unfortunately, when a tire gun broke mid-tire change, Porsche lost valuable seconds and Pilet came out of the pits in 5th place, 3 spots back from where he entered.
The bad luck didn't end there! Utilizing all his skills and the power of the 911 RSR Pilet turned the fastest race of the lap and overtook 3 competitors to come back to 2nd place. It looked like he was set to pass and podium was all but guaranteed. Then, with only 33 minutes left in the race, he suffered a puncture on the front left tire forcing him back to the pits. Adding insult to injury, the pit crew dropped the car off its lift before clearing the hose of the tire gun from under the tires. As a result, as Pilet accelerated out of the pits, he drove over the hose for which he was awarded a drive-through penalty. That mistake basically ended Porsche's charge on the spot. If not for that, given the way he was tearing up the track, it's possible he still could have found a place on the podium. Instead, the team had to settle for 7th place in class with the #912 car coming in 8th in class. Porsche's full race report is after the gallery.
Patrick Pilet (911 RSR #911): “Our plan was to have the best car at the end of the race. This meant that it wasn’t so easy driving during the heat of the day. But once it cooled down we were very clearly the fastest on the track. The team did an excellent job. The strategy had been perfect. After the last pit stop we had a good chance to win. The tyre defect was annoying. It wasn’t a pit crew error, it was just bad luck.”
2017 12 Hours of Sebring GTLM class race results
1. Garcia/Magnussen/Rockenfeller (E/DK/D), Corvette, 334 laps
2. Hand/Müller/Bourdais (USA/D/F), Ford GT, 334
3. Fisichella/Calado/Vilander (I/I/SF), Ferrari 488, 334
4. Westbrook/Briscoe/Dixon (GB/USA/NZL), Ford GT, 334
5. Pla/Mücke/Johnson (F/D/USA), Ford GT, 334
6. Auberlen/Sims/Wittmer (USA/GB/CAN), BMW M6, 334
7. Pilet/Werner/Makowiecki (F/D/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 334
8. Estre/Vanthoor/Lietz (F/B/A), Porsche 911 RSR, 332
9. Edwards/Tomczyk/Catsburg (USA/D/NL), BMW M6, 149
10. Gavin/Milner/Fässler (GB/USA/CH), Corvette, 42
2017 12 Hours of Sebring GTD class race results
1. Bleekemolen/Keating/Farnbacher (NL/USA/D), Mercedes, 325 laps
2. Balzan/Nielsen/Cressoni (I/DK/I), Ferrerari 488, 324
3. Vautier/Habul/Said (F/USA/USA), Mercedes, 324
6. Bergmeister/Lindsey/McMurry/Heylen (D/USA/USA/B), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 324
10. De Quesada/Morad/Pumpelly/Christensen (USA/CAN/USA/DK), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 323
Points’ standings GTLM class after 2 of 11 races
1. Müller, Hand, Bourdais, Ford, 67 points
2. Garcia, Magnussen, Rockenfeller, Chevrolet, 63
3. Fisichella, Vilander, Calado, Ferrari, 60
4. Pilet, Werner, Makowiecki, Porsche, 57
5. Mücke, Pla, Jonsson, Ford, 50
5. Westbrook, Briscoe, Dixon, Ford, 50
6. Estre, Vanthoor, Lietz, Porsche, 48
6. Auberlen, Sims, BMW, 48
7. Wittmer, BMW, 45
8. Gavin, Milner, Garcia, Chevrolet, 43
9. Edwards, Tomczyk, Catsburg, BMW, 42
1. Ford, 67 points
2. Chevrolet, 63
3. Ferrari, 60
4. Porsche, 58
5. BMW, 54
1. #66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, 67
2. #3 Corvette Racing, 63
3. #62 Risi Competizione, 60
4. #911 Porsche GT Team, 57
5. #68 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, 50
6. #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, 50
7. #912 Porsche GT Team, 48
8. #25 BMW Team RLL, 48
9. #4 Corvette Racing, 43
10. #24 BMW Team RLL, 42
Brilliant strategy, fastest race lap and a lot of bad luck
At the 12 Hours of Sebring, the second long-distance classic of the IMSA SportsCar Championship, the new Porsche 911 RSR was on course for a podium result until shortly before the finish. In fact, thanks to a sound race strategy and a strong performance from the pilots, even a maiden victory was within reach. Then, however, a tyre defect and a drive-through penalty put an end to Patrick Pilet’s spectacular charge. The Frenchman had fought his way through the field in the 510 hp race car with the starting number 911 and was poised to snatch the lead. After 334 laps on the Sebring International Raceway, the legendary airfield circuit in the heart of Florida, the Porsche works driver and his teammates Dirk Werner (Germany) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France) ultimately had to settle for seventh place in the GTLM class. In the second 911 RSR fielded by the Porsche GT Team, Kévin Estre (France), Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and Richard Lietz (Austria) took the flag in eighth place.
The 65th edition of the 12 Hours of Sebring, which started in summer temperatures of over 25 degrees Celsius, treated fans to gripping racing from start to finish, particularly in the strongly represented GTLM class, which was packed with drama. Before the final pit stop the field was still running close together. Right up until this time, Porsche’s strategy to setup the 911 so that it would perform at its best in the cooler hours of the evening unfolded brilliantly. But during a tyre change, an impact wrench suddenly gave up the ghost, resulting in a longer pit stop than planned for the number 911 car. As a consequence, Patrick Pilet fell down the field from second to fifth place.
The Frenchman, who had started into the season with a second place with his teammates at the 24 Hours of Daytona, refused to give up. Putting in breathtaking overtaking manoeuvres and turning the fastest race lap, he battled his way up the order in a very short time to retake second place and was lying within striking distance of the leader. His spirited final charge, however, came to an abrupt end 33 minutes before the finish: Due to a tyre defect he had to come in for an unscheduled pit stop, and after the front left tyre was changed he then accelerated and drove over the hose of the impact wrench. The drive-through penalty that he received for this destroyed all hopes of clinching his second podium result of the season.
GTD Class Results
In the GTD class, the best Porsche 911 GT3 R finished on sixth place. One of the pilots driving Park Place Motorsports’ 500 hp customer sports racer, which Porsche had designed for worldwide GT3 series on the basis of the 911 GT3 RS production sports car, was Jörg Bergmeister (Germany). His works driver colleague Michael Christensen (Denmark), the class winner at Daytona with Allegra Motorsports, crossed the finish line in tenth place.
Round three of the IMSA SportsCar Championship is held on the street circuit in Long Beach/California on 8 April.