When three of your four factory works effort drivers have never been to a track before, it's a safe bet that your weekend is going to be a long and tough uphill battle. That was exactly what happened last weekend when Porsche's United Sports Car Championship GTLM team arrived at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (née Mosport). Of their four professional drivers, Patrick Long was the only one who had ever seen CTMP before, and combined with a weekend schedule that doesn't provide for much track time, they knew that it'd be a struggle to match the pace of the competition. The 2 hour and 45 minute event is one that Porsche won't be shouting about, but on the same token, it wasn't a particularly disappointing race.
Nick Tandy and Richard Lietz ran a relatively uneventful race, with Tandy starting, switching out for Lietz, and then popping Tandy back in the car for the final stint. They ran as high as fourth, having started from sixth, but ended up finishing the race in fifth, keeping the car out of trouble all the way.
“With such a short race track and the amount of cars on it, you have to be very lucky in traffic. I got the slow cars in the right spots and I didn’t lose too much time, so I was very happy. At the end of the stint the drink bottle didn’t work, so it got quite hot in the car. We still have to improve the balance a bit, but we did our best. We have a chance to play with the rest but we are still not fast enough.”
“We were battling from the start with the No. 56 car. It was a really great race. We managed to get ahead in the first stint and the race was panning out as we’d planned. We were good through the middle of the race and then we met again in the final stint. In traffic he managed to get past and toward the end we got caught out in traffic and dropped back too much. We’re quite happy with the points from this weekend. It was more than we were expecting.”
Pat Long and Michael Christensen shared the No. 912 car, starting from a lackluster 8th on the grid of 10 GTLM cars to finish a lackluster 9th. It is fair to say that Sunday just wasn't their day. Patrick started the race from near the back, and had driven a cracker to get the car up as high as 4th on pit sequencing, but after the driver-change pitstop, Christensen took the helm in 8th, and his unfamiliarity with the track conspired to drop him another position before the checkered flag flew.
“The first stint was quite tough with the tires. The second stint was much better and through the end of the race. I was quite happy at the end of the race. It was fun to have something to chase, but we were a bit short on time.”
“The opening stint I had a good battle with Farnbacher and Tandy. I tried to maintain position at the end with Priaulx. It was challenging with the changing track conditions. It had just stopped raining and then the grip went down pretty quickly. I had a tough middle section of the stint, but the beginning and the end were quite strong. My main focus was to keep the car clean and within striking distance.”
In qualifying, the Falken Tires Porsche was the quickest Porsche by a good margin, qualifying 3rd on the grid, some 6 tenths faster per lap than the fastest of the factory GTLM competitors. The car, it seems, was much better at the start of the race, fending off some great battles from the competition, but before Bryan Sellers traded out for Wolf Henzler, the car's balance seemed to be upset, and a gaggle of other cars in the class found their way by the blue and green RSR. Henzler found himself unable to make up time, and the team finished in 7th at the end of the day.
“A tough race. The balanced changed from the first to the second stint and we don’t know why. Our tires worked well and were consistent and didn’t drop off. That was a huge gain from the last race. We can be proud. We had a good weekend. The car was good. It was balanced. I hope next race we will do better for sure.”
“Not a great result for us today but we definitely had some improvements for Team Falken Tire. It is better than we have had in the past. We definitely still have some work we need to do in terms of balance but I felt like our warm-up and duration of the tires was much better this weekend. Our speed was not too bad. We need to try and make sure we are in a better place at the end of the race to see what happens.”
Unlike their strife in the GTLM class, Porsche's GTD class 991 GT America teams seemed to relish the challenge that CTMP presented. In fact, four of the top ten GTD cars on the grid were Porsche customers, and six of the top ten finishers in class were driving GT Americas. Where GTLM Porsches struggled, GTD Porsches prospered. Were it not for a second-t0-last lap incident, a Porsche likely would have won the GTD class, as well.
Starting from 7th on the grid, the Park Place Porsche had a great race. Pat Lindsey drove the first stint, and managed to kick start the march toward the front, bringing his stint to a close with a clean car already in second place. When Lindsey handed over to Estre, however, the real magic happened. Kevin managed to pound out some excellent laps and keep his tires in good shape, moving into the lead. By the end of the race, it was clear that Estre had the class of the field having lead the class for over an hour, and could just manage the (admittedly tight) gap back to the second placed Viper. Unfortunately, the race wouldn't go their way, as Estre ran up on some slower traffic and was balked a bit in attempting a pass. At the same time, a likely frustrated Michael Christensen in the 912 GTLM car came storming through and hip-checked the Park Place car slightly, allowing the Viper through into the lead. What had been a tight lead was completely annihilated in just one corner.
“We came from seventh place early and I had my best lap right before the driver change, and Kevin took over first place on the pit stop. Traffic was tough as the track was really green after the morning rain, so the grip was way down. It was good to get into the first group, and we had a great shot to win.”
“Our car was not perfect during qualifying, but the Park Place crew made some adjustments and the Porsche was great today. I could turn great laps while, at the same time, managing the tire. I got held-up big time at the end by a lapped Ferrari who was not racing for position, and that gave the Viper a chance to contest for the lead. Then one of the GTLM Porsches was very aggressive in trying to pass me, and bumped me wide of the racing line. That allowed the Viper to get by, and I could not catch up. Second place was good, but I felt bad for the crew, who worked so hard to get us a win.”
Current Championship Standings
In GTLM, the Porsche North America team is falling from early season victories to their current positions of 5th (#911) and 8th (#912). The Porsche 911 RSR factory effort is currently 35 and 43 points off the leading Corvette team.
GTD looks a bit more positive for Porsche right now, as two Porsche teams are battling closely for the lead, making up two thirds of the top three. The Magnus Racing team didn't have a particularly memorable race, but they did manage to march toward the points lead, as they are now only 3 points away from the championship lead. Following closely, the Alex Job Racing team is only 7 points off of the lead.
After a close and exciting battle at CTMP, we're all looking forward to a great United SportsCar Racing event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the new road course there should prove exciting and dynamic.
GT Le Mans Results
1. No. 3 Jan Magnussen (Denmark)/Antonio Garcia (Spain), Corvette C-7R – 127 laps
2. No. 93 Jonathan Bomarito (USA)/Kuno Wittmer (Canada), Dodge SRT Viper - 127 laps
3. No. 91 Dominik Farnbacher (Germany)/Marc Goossens (Belgium), Dodge SRT Viper - 127 laps
4. No. 56 John Edwards (USA)/Dirk Mueller (Germany), BMW Z4 GTE, -126 laps
5. No. 911 Nick Tandy (Great Britain)/Richard Lietz (Austria), Porsche 911 RSR – 126 laps
6. No. 55 Bill Auberlen (USA)/Andy Priaulx (United Kingdom), BMW Z4 GTE – 126 laps
8. No. 17 Wolf Henzler (Germany)/Bryan Sellers (USA), Porsche 911 RSR – 126 laps
9. No. 912 Patrick Long (USA)/Michael Christensen (Denmark), Porsche 911 RSR – 126 laps
GT Daytona Results
1. No. 33 Jeroen Bleekemolen (Netherlands)/Ben Keating (USA), SRT Viper GT3-R – 121 laps
2. No. 73 Patrick Lindsey (USA)/ Kevin Estre (Germany), Porsche 911 GT America – 121 laps
3. No. 94 Dane Cameron (USA)/Markus Palttala (Finland), BMW Z4 – 120 laps
4. No. 81 No. 81 Damien Faulkner (Ireland)/Ben Barker (United Kingdom), Porsche 911 GT America – 120 laps
5. No. 22 Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.)/Leh Keen (USA), Porsche 911 GT America – 120 laps
6. No. 23 Ian James (USA), Mario Farnbacher (Germany), Porsche 911 GT America – 120 laps
Other Porsche Blog Posts You Will Enjoy
MOMO NGT Motorsport Pulling Out Of TUSCC GTD
Porsche’s Results And Pictures From The Six Hours Of The Glen
The Porsche Battle At Pikes Peak
Images sourced from Porsche and dailysportscar.com