Endurance racing is as much a testament to driver skill as it is to the mechanical longevity of the machines participating. Normally seen as a race of attrition, the 53rd running of the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona was no different. At least 17 of the 53 race cars that took the green flag failed to take the checkered one. While barely half of the 12 Porsches that started the managed to finish, we still were able to score some all important championship points. We break it all down for you below, after the images. (when you're done viewing the images in our gallery, simple click the "x" in the top left corner to return to the post).
Porsche's Full Race Report For The Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona
Twelve Porsche 911-based racecars took the green flag at Saturday's Rolex 24 Hour race in an attempt to defend last year's title and secure the German marque’s record 77th career class victory at Daytona International Speedway (DIS). 24 hours later, the iconic rear-engine sports car took two podium finishes in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship’s GT Daytona (GTD) class while the highest finishing Porsche 911 RSR in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class was fifth. The GTD podiums continue a streak of 53 consecutive years with at least one podium result at Daytona for Porsche.
The Three Porsche 911 RSRs
All three of the Porsche 911 RSRs challenged for the lead during the first half of the race. For the Porsche North America team, the official factory program in GTLM, the race hinged on a mid-race incident that took both the No. 911 and No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR entries out of contention to win a second-consecutive victory here. 11 hours and 10 minutes into the Rolex 24, the No. 911 driven by Marc Lieb (Germany) came together with an Aston Martin over the curbing near Turn One, with the No. 912 RSR shortly behind. As a result, Earl Bamber (New Zealand) in the No. 912 took evasive action, drove across the wet grass and slide into the No. 911 as it reentered the track. While no one was injured in the incident, both cars had significant damage. [Full story and video of this incident is available in this post]
What Happened After The Collision
The No. 912 was repaired in the pit box, and returned with Fred Makowiecki (France) behind the wheel, 27 laps down. Bamber, Makowiecki and Jörg Bergmeister (Germany) fought hard to regain positions. Unfortunately, despite the team's best efforts, the Porsche suffered a drivetrain failure in the 21st hour of the race, ending the car's run.
Jörg Bergmeister, No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR: “After we had problems on the first lap, it was very good to see how quickly the team solved the problem. Over time we gained back all the time we lost. Unfortunately, the incident between the 912 and 911 happened. That’s racing but of course I am disappointed. After all the hard work, and especially with all the problems we had, we were still running fourth when we lost drive. Fourth would have been very good points to start the season.”
As for the The No. 911, the car collected by the No. 912 and shared by Lieb, Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and Patrick Pilet (France), it needed to be flat-bedded off the course from the International Horseshoe section of the track. It was brought to the garage area where the team was miraculously able to replace both the right front and right rear suspensions as well as making an oil tank change. It should be noted that the oil tank replacement necessitated removing the engine and transmission. Quite an undertaking! The crew returned the car to the track in time to take the checkered flag in fifth, the highest-finishing Porsche 911 RSR.
Owen Hayes, Director of Operations, Porsche Motorsport North America: “This wasn’t the result we were looking for or expecting but we endured through an awful lot in the last 24-hours. We dug deep and managed to have three Porsche 911 RSRs with points at the end of the day. I am thankful to our team for the work and effort they have put in. I am proud of everyone today.”
The Third 911 RSR
The No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR driven by Wolf Henzler (Germany), Bryan Sellers (Braselton, Georgia) and Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California) ran in the top-three for much of the race. The sole privateer 911 RSR entry in North America was a late race contender for the GTLM class victory before a drivetrain failure ended its first Rolex 24 in the 19th hour.
So What's The Good News?
All three of the Porsche 911 RSR entries completed at least 70% of the overall race winner’s distance making them eligible for valuable championship points. The points go towards the defense of Porsche’s 2014 GTLM Manufacturer Championship.
Let's Talk About The Porsche 911 GT America Entries
- In the GTD class, Porsche 911 GT America customer teams improved on their Rolex 24 finish from last year by taking two of the top three podium spots. The No. 22 WeatherTech Alex Job Racing Porsche of Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Illinois), Leh Keen (Atlanta), Andrew Davis (Athens, Georgia) and Shane van Gisbergen (New Zealand) got their season off to a good start with a second-place finish.
Leh Keen, No. 22 WeatherTech Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America: “Since the first laps at the Roar test we’ve had a great WeatherTech Porsche. Cooper, Shane and Andrew were really solid all day but we just didn’t have the speed in the car. It is tough to be second on the Daytona podium as we wanted to win so badly, but this gives us a great start to the season with a lot of points.”
- For the second year in a row, the No. 58 Dempsey/Wright Motorsports Porsche of Jan Heylen (Tampa, Florida), Madison Snow (Lehi, Utah), Patrick Dempsey (Malibu, California) and Philipp Eng (Austria) finished third in GTD. Heylen and Snow were in the car last year, while Dempsey will join the team for all the North American Endurance Championship events for 2015 (Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Petit Le Mans). Eng was a guest driver for this long event.
Patrick Dempsey, No. 58 Dempsey/Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT America: “The tremendous support Porsche has given me has allowed this to happen. With Brumos, and their history here, it is such a satisfying experience and we want to thank them for their belief in me and thank them for giving me this opportunity. It means a lot, as there is a real family feeling about it. There is a beauty in this company that is all-inspiring.”
The Dempsey/Wright Motorsports entry dropped to 16th place early in the race when their scoring transponder was working intermittently, causing three different pit stops to correct the problem, but consistent, mistake-free driving and good pit strategy helped them move up in the field and onto the podium.
- The award for "if it can happen, it probably will" definitely has to go to Magnus Racing and their unfortunate on-track contact with a Florida Possum. It's a long story and one that many won't believe. Instead of trying to recount it here, we dedicated an entire post complete with pictures and video. If you're not too squeamish, check it out. I don't think you'll see or hear something like this again for a long, long time.
The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship now travels across the state to complete the “36-hours of Florida” with the 63rd running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring fueled by Fresh From Florida. Sebring International Raceway will host the second-round of the 2015 season on March 18-21.
GT Le Mans Results
1. No. 3 Jan Magnusson (Denmark)/Antonio Garcia (Spain)/Ryan Briscoe (USA), Chevrolet Corvette C7-R – 725 laps
2. No. 25 Bill Auberlen (USA)/Dirk Werner (Germany)/Augusto Fafus (Brazil)/Bruno Spengler (France), BMW Z4 GTE - ??? laps
3. No. 4 Oliver Gavin (UK)/Tommy Milner (USA)/Ryan Briscoe (USA), Chevrolet Corvette C7-R- 718 laps
5. No. 911 Nick Tandy (UK)/Patrick Pilet (France)/ Marc Lieb (Germany), Porsche 911 RSR – 640 Laps
7. No. 912 Jörg Bergmeister (Germany)/Frédéric Makowiecki (France)/ Earl Bamber (New Zealand), Porsche 911 RSR – 581 laps
8. No. 17 Wolf Henzler (Germany)/Bryan Sellers (USA)/Patrick Long (USA), Porsche 911 RSR – 530 laps
GT Daytona Results
1. No. 93 Riley Motorsports Ben Keating (USA)/Dominik Farnbacher (Germany)/Al Carter (USA)/Kuno Wittmer (Canada)/Cameron Lawrence (USA), Dodge Viper V10 – 704 laps
2. No. 22 Alex Job Racing Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.)/Leh Keen (Atlanta)/Andrew Davis (Athens, Georgia)/Shane van Gisbergen (New Zealand), Porsche 911 GT America – 704 laps
3. No. 58 Jan Heylen (Tampa, Florida)/Madison Snow (Lehi, Utah)/ Patrick Dempsey (Malibu, California)/Philipp Eng (Austria), Porsche 911 GT America – 702 laps
7. No. 81 GB Autosport Damien Faulkner (Ireland)/ Michael Avenatti (Sacramento, California)/Mike Skeen (Charlotte, North Carolina)/Kuba Giermaziak (Poland)/Rory Butcher (Scotland), Porsche 911 GT America – 687 laps
11. No. 44 Magnus Racing John Potter (Salt Lake City, Utah)/Andy Lally (Dacula, Ga.)/Marco Seefried (Germany)/Martin Ragginger (Austria), Porsche 911 GT America – 616 laps
15. No. 18 Muehlner Motorsports America Darryl O’Young (Hong Kong)/Matteo Beretta (Italy)/Marc Besseng (Germany)/Connor De Phillippi (San Clemente, California)/Nikolaus Mayr-Motnhof (Austria), Porsche 911 GT America – 539 laps
16. No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Patrick Lindsey (Santa Barbara, California)/Spencer Pumpelly (Atlanta)/Jim Norman (Tampa)/David Ducote (Houston)/Kevin Estre (Austria), Porsche 911 GT America – 532 laps
17. No. 19 Muehlner Motorsports America Jim Michaelian (Seal Beach, California)/Robert Flores (Los Angeles, California)/Michael Lira (Port orange, Florida), Porsche 911 GT America – 414 laps
18. No. 23 Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing Ian James (Phoenix)/Mario Farnbacher (Germany)/Alex Riberas (Spain), Porsche 911 GT America – 233 laps
19. No. 28 Konrad Motorsports Klaus Bachler (Austria)/Christopher Zoechling (Austria)/Christian Engelhart (Germany)/Lance Willsey (Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts)/Rolf Ineichen (Germany), Porsche 911 GT America – 176 laps
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