Porsche customer racing squads absolutely had the right car, drivers, crew, and strategy for the fourth round of the IMSA WeatherTech Championship this weekend at Laguna Seca. In both the GTD Pro and GTD categories, it was a 911 GT3 R that came home with the victory, sweeping everything there was to sweep, marking Porsche’s 30th and 31st professional victories at the famed circuit. The Pfaff Motorsports plaid Porsche took the GTD Pro class victory from pole in resounding fashion, while the Wright Motorsports team fought from behind in the pro-am GTD class to take the win on pro driver Jan Heylen’s birthday! It was a fantastic race to watch, and marked the second victory for both teams this season.
The plaid team struck hard and fast, after two events without much result. The pairing of Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet in the Pfaff Porsche has been unsuccessful since the Daytona 24 in January. With this run, the team re-took the lead of the points championship on Sunday. The team also won here en route to its GTD-class 2021 IMSA championship win last year. There isn’t much to report about this win. The drivers were stellar all day, managing tire wear as best they could in the hot California sun, and the pit stops were picture perfect. Winning from pole looks easy, but there’s a lot that goes into that effort, and everything has to go just right. Fortunately for the Pfaff team, it did.
Down in GTD, the Wright team put up another incredible run with Ryan Hardwick and Jan Heylen kicking butt. With 30 minutes to go in the two-hour-and-forty-minute race, things weren’t looking great with Jan Heylen mired down in fourth position, stuck behind a GTD Pro Aston Martin, but with excellent pit strategy and killer tire preservation, he managed to not only pass the Aston, but hustle his butt off to get around the three GTD cars ahead. With just 12 minutes remaining in the race, Heylen made his way past Bill Auberlen’s BMW to take the lead, and with it, the victory! Wright Motorsports doesn’t mess around, they really know how to put together a winning effort.
The No. 99 Hardpoint Porsche 911 GT3 R of Katherine Legge and Rob Ferriol earned a tenth-place finish in the GTD class. The fourth Porsche customer program of James Sofronas and Kyle Washington finished 11th in class driving the No. 34 GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R racer.
Mathieu Jaminet, Driver, No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“It has been a perfect day and a perfect weekend. We just had to improve over the weekend: the pole position and the clean run today. Second win of the season, we are back in the championship, fully confident. Now we have a break before Watkins so it is good to finish on a high for this first part of the season. Behind us they were battling, especially the last hour, so for sure this helped us pull away. We were quite strong and were we really good on tire degradation today so that played a big role in the win.
Jan Heylen, Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“This is one of the Porsche tracks. I have to say that we were all looking forward to coming here after Long Beach. It was a great team effort. Really understanding the track and the tire degradation is important here. I think that is what gave us the speed at the end, together with some great driving by Ryan and really good strategy from the team again. I had to constantly tell myself to be patient and keep with the tires. This was the perfect race for us with the yellows. If the yellow comes out in the middle of that stint, I think you see a very different race. But the fact that we were out there the whole stint and able to look after the tires is what made us come out on top.”
The GTD class runs again in a couple of weeks at Mid Ohio, which is Wright’s home race track. Here’s hoping for a repeat of their efforts in California. The GTD Pro cars have a nice break, not running again until mid-July at the 6 Hours of the Glen in New York. Most of the GTD Pro drivers will be needed in France for an important race called the 24 Hours of Le Mans next month.