It looked like Porsche would achieve their first victory with the new 911 RSR this past weekend at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. In qualifying for round six of the IMSA SportsCar Championship Dirk Werner (Germany) posted the very first pole position with the 510 hp 911 RSR. During the race, his teammate Patrick Pilet (France) turned the fastest lap in the GTLM class on the high-speed circuit. Then, with one fast and flawless pit stop, the Porsche GT Team managed to catapult the #911 Porsche 911 RSR past the frontrunner and into the lead in the final phase of the fiercely contested race.
The strong performance of the drivers and the team, however, was not rewarded. Patrick Pilet was within striking distance on second place and still had excellent chances to clinch the first victory with the 911 RSR, when he lost power due to a mechanical problem just nine minutes before the finish and was forced to park his car in the pits. The race for the sister 911 RSR (#912) was lost in the first hour of racing on Sunday: Just a few laps after Gianmaria Bruno (Italy) took over the vehicle from Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium), the Italian made an unscheduled pit stop to pick up a new right rear tire. The time that was lost on this racetrack, where overtaking is virtually impossible, could not be regained against the strong opposition.
Laurens Vanthoor (911 RSR #912): “Right from the beginning this wasn’t a good race for us. We lost one position at the start. Our pace was good enough to match the frontrunners, but it’s very difficult to overtake on this racetrack. We used a different strategy today, but before we could implement it fully, tyre damage threw us back.”
For Patrick Pilet and Dirk Werner, everything was initially running to plan. Heading into the race from pole position, they had to relinquish their lead in the first lap. Putting in a strong drive, they remained within striking distance of the lead. At the beginning of the final race hour, the strategists in the Porsche pits opted for full attack: Via radio, they instructed Patrick Pilet to try everything in his power to close the short gap to the frontrunner over the remaining three laps until the next pit stop – with the idea of catapulting him into the lead with a fast pit stop. It worked: Lap after lap, the Frenchman gained ground until he followed the leader into the pits and rejoined the race in first place with a five-second lead.
When rain set in, at first light before becoming heavier, he had to give up his position at the front, and was initially back in third place. However, with a spirited push, he recaptured second place with just a few laps left to the finish – and was poised to strike for the front again. The hopes of claiming the maiden victory with the new 911 RSR, however, remained unfulfilled.
Patrick Pilet (911 RSR #911): “The entire team did another excellent today, particularly with the superfast pit stop. It wasn’t easy when it started raining in the final phase, because we were running a different tyre compound compared to our opposition. The 911 RSR performed well over the distance. We were the fastest today. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to achieve our first victory. We’ll try again at Lime Rock.”
Race Results GTLM class
1. Auberlen/Sims (USA/GB), BMW M6, 116 laps
2. Edwards/Tomczyk (USA/D), BMW M6, 116
3. Westbrook/Briscoe (GB/USA), Ford GT, 116
4. Garcia/Magnussen (E/DK), Corvette, 116
5. Hand/Müller (USA/D), Ford GT, 116
6. Vanthoor/Bruni (B/I), Porsche 911 RSR, 116
7. Pilet/Werner (F/D), Porsche 911 RSR, 108
8. Gavin/Milner (GB/USA), Corvette, 102
Race Results GTD class
1. Davis/Aschenbach (USA/USA), Audi R8, 113 laps
2. Lally/Legge (USA/GB), Acura NSX, 113
3. Balzan/Nielsen (I/DK), Ferrari 488, 113
9. Bergmeister/Lindsey (D/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 113
14. Bennett/Braun (USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 112
15. Morad/de Quesada (/DK/CAN/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 112
Round seven of the IMSA SportsCar Championship will be contested on 22 July at Lime Rock in the US State of Connecticut.