Stop reading now if you don't want any spoilers as there are a number of them and they come fairly quickly this week. After what seems like a long dry spell Porsche found themselves once again back on the podium. This time, however, it wasn't a factory team collecting a trophy. Instead, it was Team Falken Tire in their 911 RSR who took a second place overall finish today putting Porsche in the lead for the GTLM Manufacturer points standing with only two races remaining in the season. There was lots of other excitement this weekend, including an accident involving one of Porsche's two factory 911s that left factory driver Richard Lietz with a fractured arm and the team in need of a spare chassis having to resort to a spare chassis after a qualifying session accident. Porsche's full race report and accident info can be found after the gallery.
Porsche's Pictures From The Oak Tree Grand Prix
Porsche's Full Race Report From The Oak Tree Grand Prix
The Porsche 911 RSR of Team Falken Tire earned an impressive second-place overall finish today in the Oak Tree Grand Prix. Without the prototype classes this weekend, Sunday’s race was the first race held exclusively for the GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD) classes in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. Porsche factory driver Wolf Henzler (Germany) held the overall lead entering the last lap, narrowly missing the victory. The Porsche North America factory effort had a more challenging day finishing eighth with the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR and tenth with the No. 911 entry. With Team Falken Tire’s podium result, Porsche now leads the GTLM Manufacturer point standings with two races remaining in the season.
Owen Hayes, Director of Operations, Porsche Motorsport North America: “I am really proud of the performance Porsche North America put together. Even though the results aren’t there, we showed, as one team, all working together, what we can accomplish. We had an engine cutout issue throughout the race and, unfortunately, we had to turn off the engine in the No. 911 before it became a bigger issue. We really showed our strength as a team this race weekend. I hope we can do that to prove to Richard when he returns that we will make the next step up.
The result is fantastic for Falken Tire. We are trying our best and they are trying their best. Any result like that is well deserved and it is hard fought for. They dig so deep. The tenacity they used to win Petit Le Mans last year is what they used here today; congratulations to them.”
Porsche 911 RSR
While fast all weekend, the No. 17 Team Falken Tire entry driven by Henzler and Bryan Sellers (Braselton, Georgia) focused on fuel strategy to put the car in the position to win. Sellers opened the race running near the top-five before relinquishing the iconic, rear-engined Porsche 911 RSR to longtime teammate Henzler. With fuel conservation in mind for the full race, the No. 17 was able to use a late race yellow flag to remove all doubt they could reach the finish line. Henzler, leading as a result of other cars pitting for fuel, held off multiple attacks by the No. 62 Ferrari F458 Italia. On the final lap, the red machine passed the Falken-entry and was able to hold on to the top spot at the end. Henzler crossed the line in a close second, the best finish for the team in 2014, earning valuable manufacturer points
Wolf Henzler, No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR: “Sometimes you have to take a chance. Second-place is like a win for Team Falken Tire after struggling this year. The race was very tough. Obviously, we were on a different pit strategy than the others. We decided to stay out and save fuel for awhile but then we realized we were not going to make it. Luckily, the safety car came out and we knew we could stop saving fuel. It was so hard the last few laps to keep Giancarlo [Fisichella] behind me but finally I couldn’t any longer. For sure, I was fighting hard And now we are looking forward.”
Accident Forces Porsche To Use Spare Chassis
The story of Porsche North America’s weekend centered around the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR. The works effort was looking strong entering the weekend but an accident on Saturday morning would force them into a newly rebuilt car for today’s race. Even more challenging than rebuilding the racecar overnight was the injury to factory driver Richard Lietz. The Austrian suffered a fractured left upper arm in the two-car accident and was unable to continue driving this weekend. After visiting his teammates at the track this morning, Lietz has returned home for surgery.
Michael Christensen Drives Both The #911 and #912
With the car prepared in time for the early morning warm-up, Michael Christensen (Denmark) was drafted into driving both Porsche North America entries in the race. By using a rebuilt car, the No. 911 was forced to start at the back of the GTLM and GTD combined field with Nick Tandy behind the wheel for the opening stint. Adding insult to injury, the native of Great Britain was penalized for jumping the start of the two-hour, 45-minute race, and later drove the car off and back on the track while pushing to make his way to the front.
Michael Christensen, Nos. 911 and 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR: “I was hit from the rear on the first lap and we both went into the grass and the whole field went by. The 912 car was very good and had good pace but unfortunately it was not able to get a good result. Both cars were pretty similar. I had done the warm-up in the number 911 so I knew what I was getting into. Nick and I also did some pit stop practice so everything was very well prepared. The stint in the No. 911 was a shame. What it was we do not know yet but it was something that caused a loss of power. In the end we had to stop the car. It was very frustrating because I could feel the car was very good.”
Christensen started the No. 912 and was prepared to take the checkered flag in the team’s No. 911. However, an ongoing engine issue – which first reared its head at the one-hour, 45-minute mark dropping Tandy from second-place – would sideline the No. 911 with 19 minutes remaining while Christensen was behind the wheel. The car was classified 10th in GTLM.
The Saga Of The No. 912 Revolved Around The No. 911 With Christensen Replacing The Injured Lietz.
The first-year Porsche factory driver started the No. 912 handing the wheel over to Patrick Long (Playa del Rey, California) just one hour into the race before making his way to the No. 911. Long, the only American Porsche factory driver, was embroiled in a hard battle around the 3.27-mile track suffering right rear wheel and bodywork damage during his stint. While he was able to continue, with right rear suspension damage the team elected a fuel conservation strategy as opposed to outright speed. The No. 912 would finish eighth on the day.
Porsche now holds a narrow lead in the GTLM Manufacturer point standings with two events remaining.
Porsche 911 GT America
The GT-only weekend format was popular with the GT Daytona (GTD) competitors. And like the GTLM category, the championship battles tightened into a five-way tie between Porsche, BMW and Ferrari entrants going into the last two races of the season. Perhaps the best story for the Porsche 911 GT America contingent, however, was the first podium finish of the season for the No. 27 Dempsey Racing Porsche of Patrick Dempsey (Malibu, California) and Andrew Davis (Athens, Georgia). Davis was among the fastest in the GTD class during Friday’s practice sessions. However, on Saturday, the No. 27 slid on fluid on the track, hitting the tire barrier and damaging the rear of the car. The damage was repairable but not in time for qualifying forcing the team to start at the back of the pack. Dempsey had a particularly strong first stint and with clean pit stops and driver change, Davis was able to bring the car home in third place. Racing a newly rebuilt car from last on the grid to the podium was a testimony to the entire team effort at Dempsey Racing as well as the ready availability of Porsche parts and expertise on-site at the track.
Patrick Dempsey, No. 27 Dempsey Racing Porsche 911 GT America: “Since crew chief John Wright has joined our organization, everything at Dempsey Racing has improved. Our chemistry and teamwork were tested yesterday when I went off the track and damaged the car. Everyone put their head down and worked tirelessly to get us back on the track, and it was up to Andrew and I to reward them with a good finish. Our podium is that reward, and against the best competition in the world, I am particularly humbled to be standing here with a third place finish. The Porsche was great and fun to drive today, with predictable braking and handling, and we didn’t make any mistakes. And this track is great.”
Leh Keen (Atlanta, Georgia) and Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Illinois) came into the weekend three points out of first place in the point standings. Their fifth place finish in the No. 22 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America put them into the five-way tie in GT Daytona Driver Championship with the two No. 555 Ferrari drivers and one of the No. 94 BMW racers with two events remaining. Not out of the points chase is also the No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT America of John Potter (Salt Lake City, Utah) and Andy Lally (Dacula, Georgia), who finished sixth, and Jan Heylen (Tampa, Florida) and Madison Snow (Lehi, Utah), whose Snow Racing/Dempsey Racing Porsche was eighth. Heylen led the race for most of the first 45 minutes, but some unfortunate yellow flags negated their fuel stop strategy. Rounding out the top ten was the No. 81 GB Autosport Porsche 911 GT America of Damien Faulkner (Ireland) and Michael Lewis (Laguna Beach, California), who also led the race for a short while until they were similarly caught out with yellow flag issues and on-track contact, ending in tenth.
Leh Keen, No. 22 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America: “What I think we learned in the race today is we have a really strong car in clean air. I was really good in the low speed stuff and could get right up on them. But, the fast corner leading up to the front straight, we fell back a bit. I really felt like we could have been on the podium today. We had another top five and I think we had another decent points day. We've got two races left and are tied for first place, so we have a real shot at the championship."
The Tudor Championship travels to Austin, Texas next for the Lone Star Le Mans at the Circuit of the Americas on September 20.
GT Le Mans Results
1. No. 62 Pierre Kaffer (Germany)/Giancarlo Fisichella (Italy), Ferrari 458 Italia – 82 laps
2. No. 17 Wolf Henzler (Germany)/Bryan Sellers (USA), Porsche 911 RSR – 82 laps
3. No. 56 Dirk Mueller (Switzerland)/Jonathan Edwards (USA), BMW Z4 GTE – 82 laps
4. No. 55 Bill Auberlin (USA)/Andy Priaulx (Normandy/France)
5. No. 93 Jonathan Bomarito (USA)/Kuno Wittmer (Canada), Dodge Viper SRT – 82 laps
6. No. 91 Marc Goossens (Belgium)/Dominik Farnbacher (Germany), Dodge Viper SRT – 82 laps
8. No. 912 Patrick Long (USA)/Michael Christensen (Denmark), Porsche 911 RSR – 81 laps
10. No. 911 Nick Tandy (Great Britain)/Michael Christensen (Denmark), Porsche 911 RSR – 72 laps
GT Daytona Results
1. No. 94 Dane Cameron (USA)/Markus Palttala (Finland) BMW Z4 – 82 laps
2. No. 63 Allesandro Balzan (Italy)/Jeff Westphal (USA) – 82 laps
3. No. 27 Patrick Dempsey (USA.)/Andrew Davis (USA) Porsche 911 GT America – 82 laps
4. No. Chistopher Haase (Germany)/Bryce Miller (USA) Audi RS LMS – 82 laps
5. No. 22 Cooper MacNeil (USA)/Leh Keen (USA), Porsche 911 GT America – 82 laps
6. No. 44 John Potter (USA)/Andy Lally (USA), Porsche 911 GT America – 82 laps
9. No. 58 Jan Heylen (USA)/Madison Snow (USA), Porsche 911 GT America - 82 laps
10. No. 81 Damien Faulkner (Ireland)/Michael Lewis (USA), Porsche 911 GT America – 82 laps
14. No. 18 Mark Kvamme (USA)/Corey Lewis (USA), Porsche 911 GT America – 79 laps
15. No. 23 Ian James (USA), Mario Farnbacher (Germany), Porsche 911 GT America – 73 laps
17. No. 73 Patrick Lindsey (USA)/Kevin Estre (France), Porsche 911 GT America – 43 laps
Other Porsche Blog Posts You Should Read
Porsche’s Pictures And Results In The USCC At Road America">Porsche’s Pictures And Results In The USCC At Road America
Porsche’s Pictures And Results In The USCC At Indianapolis
Porsche’s Results And Pictures From Canadian Tire Motorsport Park