A successful race debut for the new Porsche 911 RSR at the 24 Hours of Daytona: With a fantastic charge through the field in the last hours of the race, Porsche factory drivers Patrick Pilet, Dirk Werner and Frédéric Makowiecki secured second place in the GTLM class for the Porsche GT Team factory squad. After 634 laps on the demanding Daytona International Speedway, they were just 2.988 seconds shy of claiming victory. Thanks to this result, Porsche secured a good position in the North American Endurance Cup, for which the long distance classics of Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Petit Le Mans count.
Dirk Werner (911 RSR #911): “That was a very emotional race for me; my first as a Porsche works driver. It certainly wasn’t for the fainthearted, particularly in the final phase. Patrick really gave everything he had and a couple of times I thought he might even win. But only a fraction was missing at the flag. Still, it was virtually a perfect race. The team worked really well together and the potential of the new 911 RSR makes us very optimistic. I take my hat off to the people who developed this car.”
Porsche's Race Report From Daytona
The 55th running of the Daytona 24-hour race proved tremendously challenging for drivers and teams, especially during Saturday night with steady rain and unusually cool temperatures. The race was repeatedly interrupted by safety car phases after many drivers lost control of their vehicles on the rain-soaked Daytona International Speedway and ended up trackside. At one point, during the longest of the 21 different safety car interruptions (two hours), even the safety car ran out of fuel.
In the first race hours on the storied racetrack featuring two fast banked corners and a twisty infield, the 510 hp 911 RSR racers lost time and positions due to six unscheduled tire changes. After the problem with the right front tires was solved by revising the setup, both 911 RSRs began to re-establish their rhythm. When heavier rain made conditions even more difficult, they fought their way to the top of the GTLM class and led the field over many laps. Sports car fans did not let the bad weather spoil their fun and witnessed breathtaking fights for positions over the entire race distance, with nearly constant changing for the lead.
The race showed that the level of competition in the GTLM class is enormous. None of the vehicles of the five automobile manufacturers contesting this category could build a convincing lead over the course of the race. When the sun came up on Sunday, the field was as close as it had been the night before. Both 911 RSR had turned consistently fast laps to secure a good starting position, only to have an unscheduled pit stop for repairs on the right front suspension throw the #912 vehicle out of contention for a podium spot. Kévin Estre, Laurens Vanthoor and Richard Lietz ultimately took the flag in sixth place.
Official 2017 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona Race Results in the GTLM Class
1. Hand/Müller/Bourdais (USA/D/F), Ford GT, 652 laps
2. Pilet/Werner/Makowiecki (F/D/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 652
3. Fisichella/Calado/Vilander (I/I/SF), Ferrari 488, 652
4. Garcia/Magnussen/Rockenfeller (E/DK/D), Chevrolet Corvette, 652
5. Tincknell/Priaulx/Kanaan (GB/GB/BRA), Ford GT, 652
6. Estre/Vanthoor/Lietz (F/B/A), Porsche 911 RSR, 652
7. Pla/Mücke/Johnson (F/D/USA), Ford GT, 652
8. Auberlen/Sims/Farfus (USA/GB/BRA), BMW M6, 651
9. Gavin/Milner/Fässler (GB/USA/CH), Chevrolet Corvette, 651
10. Westbrook/Briscoe/Dixon (GB/USA/NZL), Ford GT, 624
Porsche's Results In the GTD Class
The Porsche 911 GT3 R mounted with the new, four-liter, flat-six engine with direct fuel injection, celebrated its first victory at Daytona one year after its race debut. For Porsche, this was the 77th class victory at the world famous long distance classic in Florida.
With a spectacular charge through the field in the last hour of racing, Porsche works driver Michael Christensen swept into the lead with the 500+hp racer fielded by the Alegra Motorsports customer team and held onto the spot to the flag. Porsche had designed the customer sports racer for worldwide GT3 series on the basis of the 911 GT3 RS production sports car. After securing overall victory at the 14 Hours of Dubai on 14 January, the 911 GT3 R has now won the second major long distance race of the season.
Michael Christensen (911 GT3 R #28): “That was a fantastic weekend. I’m amazed that my team performed so brilliantly at their first race with the 911 GT3 R – and in Daytona of all places against such strong competition in the 27-strong field in the GTD class. My final stint was definitely one of the best in my career. I knew what was at stake for the team, I didn’t want to damage the car, and I’m thrilled that we were able to achieve this fantastic result together.”
1. Christensen/Lazare/Morad/C. de Quesada/M. de Quesada (DK/CAN/CAN/USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 634 Runden
2. de Phillippi/Mies/Gounon/Schmidt (USA/D/F/SWZ), Audi R8, 634
3. Keating/Bleekemolen/Farnbacher/Christodoulou (USA/NL/D/GB), Mercedes AMG, 634
4. Aschenbach/Davis/Bell/Liddell (USA/USA/USA/GB), Audi R8, 634
5. Segal/Negri/Dyer/Hunter-Reay (USA/BRA/USA/USA), Acura NSX, 634
6. Sweedler/Bell/Montecalvo/Kaffer (USA/USA/USA/D), Audi R8, 633
Round two of the IMSA SportsCar Championship is the 12 Hours of Sebring contested on 18 March in the US state of Florida.