On Saturday in Daytona Beach, Florida a pair of brand new 911 RSR made their North American debut during the 24 Hours of Daytona. While the revised RSR has already raced twice, and won twice, in the FIA WEC, this was its first time on this continent and its first 24 hour endurance race. As it turns out, the new car is just as good (and reliable) over 24 hours as it was over 4 and 6 hour distances. Both cars finished on the podium within seconds of the winning BMW M8 GTE.
From the green flag to the checkers Porsche ran at or near the front of the GTLM class. Unlike prior runnings of this race, there was less traffic and fewer of the top-class prototypes to dodge, so there were far fewer yellow flag stoppages. With only four full course yellows it was ever more important to stay on the lead lap and within shouting distance of the lead. For the first half it looked like Porsche had the upper hand, and depending on fuel and tire strategy they just might have. The final 6 hours of the race were a knock-down-drag-out fight between the two Porsches and the lone BMW. They ran bumper to bumper for a full six fuel stints at least, swapping the lead a handful of times. After 786 laps of perfect running without a single problem, Porsche had to settle for second and third.
The Porsche customer teams also put in a strong performance at the 24 Hours of Daytona. Wright Motorsports fought hard to make up some positions in the second half of the race, and managed to finish fourth in the GTD class despite underbody damage to their 911 GT3 R. Black Swan Racing came back from a crash on Thursday during practice to making the grid (with Wright Motorsports' spare chassis) to take fifth place in class. The polesitting team of Pfaff Motorsports ran a long stretch at the front of the pack only to be knocked out of contention with a snapped axle in the overnight hours.
Comments on the race
Pascal Zurlinden (Director GT Works Motorsport): “That was a perfect debut for the new Porsche 911 RSR. At the first race in the USA – and one over 24 hours – we didn’t experience a single technical problem and ended up on the podium with both cars. From the team effort to the strategy right through to the work in the pitlane, everything ran smoothly and flawlessly. At the next race in Sebring, we want to defend our victory from last year.”
Nick Tandy (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “It’s not often that you make it through a 24-hour race without making any mistakes. It’s remarkable and a great start to the season for the new 911 RSR. Even though it wasn’t quite enough today, we’re all the more determined to go all-out and climb to the top step of the podium again in the future.”
Frédéric Makowiecki (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “It was a clean race that we can be proud of. The car ran well from start to finish. Our pit crew did an awesome job. There’s nothing to improve on. Our pace was good, too, but in the end it wasn’t quite enough to win.”
Matt Campbell (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “We pushed hard right from the start, stayed amongst the frontrunners for 24 hours and led for a long time. To kick off the season on the podium with the two new RSR is a fantastic start to the 2020 racing year.”
Earl Bamber (Porsche 911 RSR #912): We fought to the finish and tried everything. Our car ran excellently. However, one of our rivals was slightly faster. I’m still very proud, because the team worked brilliantly together and after 24 hours we’re on the podium with the two new Porsche 911 RSR.”
Mathieu Jaminet (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “I have mixed feelings after this race about whether I should be happy or not with second place. We drove a perfect race and maintained a steady pace supported by a highly motivated team. But the competition was a little better and you have to acknowledge that.”
Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “We had our eye on winning, but unfortunately it wasn’t quite enough. I can’t say what we did wrong. The new RSR ran beautifully, the team and drivers did a great job. I just have to come back next year to finally try to win at Daytona after my successes at Le Mans, Spa-Francorchamps and the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring.”
Patrick Long (Porsche 911 GT3 R #16): “I’m actually quite satisfied with the race. We constantly had to catch up, but we did this very well as a team with the right pi-stop strategy. Towards the end of the race, we lacked the pace compared to the three competitors in front of us. All in all, it was a good start to the season for our team.”
1. Krohn/Edwards/Mostert/Farfus (FIN/USA/AUS/BR), BMW M8 GTE, 786 laps
2. Vanthoor/Bamber/Jaminet (B/NZ/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 786 laps
3. Tandy/Makowiecki/Campbell (GB/F/AUS), Porsche 911 RSR, 786 laps
4 Garcia/Taylor/Catsburg (E/USA/NL), Corvette C8.R, 785 laps
5. De Phillippi/Eng/Spengler/Herta (USA/A/CDN/USA), BMW M8 GTE, 772 laps
1. Snow/Sellers/Lewis/Caldarelli (USA/USA/USA/GB), Lamborghini Huracan GT3, 765 laps
2. Potter/Lally/Pumpelly/Mapelli (USA/USA/USA/I), Lamborghini Huracan GT3, 765 laps
4. Hardwick/Long/Imperato/Bachler (USA/USA/USA/A) Porsche 911 GT3 R, 764 laps
13. Olsen/Robichon/Kern/Pilet (N/CDN/D/F), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 716 laps