The IMSA season is almost over with just one more race to run, the famed Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta next month. Porsche knew going into this race that they had to keep momentum up and the team strong. This was an important race for the drivers to do well and to gain some much needed points. Porsche as a whole came out of the weekend alright, having scored podium places in both the GTLM and GTD categories, but there were some really depressing moments for Porsche fans this weekend as well. Take, for example, the start of the race, which you can watch in the video below.
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From the drop of the green flag, things didn't go Porsche's way. The prototypes starting up ahead of the GTs had some start issues that saw the #5 Cadillac prototype spun around and stopped in the middle of the track. Initial contact with the spun car was made by one of the Ford GTs on its way through, and that spun the prototype sideways across the track, completely blocking Nick Tandy's trajectory. He couldn't react in time, and was forced headlong into the side of the Cadillac. From that moment, before even reaching the start line, Tandy and Pilet had their day ended for them. Thanks to their victory at Sebring, and a podium at the Watkins Glen round, the pair still hold second place points in the North American Endurance Championship, which they could win with a good finish at the 10-hour endurance Petit Le Mans.
Things went a little differently for the #912 crew of Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor, as the duo teamed up for an incredible podium finish. After the start line mess, there was a long period of yellow flag running that allowed drivers to conserve fuel and stay out a bit longer. Porsche, on the other hand, decided to come in to pit for fresh fuel and tires while under caution, stretching their next stop even farther. Because of that off-strategy stop, Porsche took the lead of the race while everyone else pitted for fuel just before the half-distance mark of the race. When Bamber was called into the pits to hand off to teammate Vanthoor, it was all out conservation, as Laurens was forced to run the remaining hour and 17 minutes on that tank of fuel and set of tires. He brought the #911 home in second place, just a few seconds off the lead.
Porsche customer team Park Place Motorsports also brought home a podium place for the German marque. Factory ace Joerg Bergmeister brought the car home in a fuel-saving strategy that very similarly aped that of the factory effort. Running the GT3 R across the finish line in second place, Bergmeister paired with Patrick Lindsey.
This round of the IMSA championship is a great warm up for drivers at Laguna Seca ahead of Rennsport Reunion later this month.
Comments on the race
Steffen Höllwarth (Porsche Program Manager IMSA SportsCar Championship):
“That was a real thriller! First and foremost, I’m very pleased that nothing bad happened to Nick. He couldn’t do anything about the accident directly after the start. The impact was hard. The extensive safety features on the 911 RSR have proven their worth today. The race for our number 912 car was marked by caution phases, but we didn’t let this interfere with our strategy. The final stint was all about conserving as much fuel as possible and not ruining the tyres. Laurens did a great job. Of course we would have liked to win, but ultimately that was an impressive performance from the entire team.”
Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 RSR #912):
“Based on the fact that we expected a difficult race, this result is really good. Of course it’s a shame that it wasn’t quite enough for first place. It was incredibly tough. We came into the pits early and therefore had to be extremely conservative with our fuel the whole time. Under such circumstances it’s difficult to keep the tyres at the optimal temperature. Such things don’t make the job easier. I did everything I could and finished in second place. We couldn’t do any better than that today.”
Patrick Pilet (Porsche 911 RSR #911):
“It’s extremely disappointing, but that’s how it goes sometimes in motor racing. When you have a lot of cars from different classes starting together, it can quickly lead to collisions and chaos. Nick couldn’t do anything. The prototype stood right in the middle of the track – he had no chance.”
1. Sims/De Phillippi (GB/USA), BMW M8 GTE, 100 laps
2. Vanthoor/Bamber (B/NZ), Porsche 911 RSR, 100 laps
3. Magnussen/Garcia (DK/E), Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, 100 laps
4. Krohn/Edwards (FIN/USA), BMW M8 GTE, 100 laps
5. Gavin/Milner (GB/USA), Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, 100 laps
6. Briscoe/Westbrook (AUS/GB), Ford GT, 71 laps
7. Hand/Müller (USA/D), Ford GT, 2 laps
8. Tandy/Pilet (GB/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 0 laps
1. Legge/Parente (GB/P), Acura NSX GT3, 97 laps
2. Bergmeister/Lindsey (D/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 97 laps
3. Keating/Bleekemolen (USA/NL), Mercedes-AMG GT3, 96 laps
11. Long/Nielsen (USA/DK), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 96 laps