Porsche has scored their third GTLM win in a row following the Oak Tree Grand Prix at VIR Sunday afternoon. It was a valiant fight by Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet in their Porsche 911 RSR, and they made their salary worth the cost this weekend. With their third victory in a row, Porsche has now moved into first in the team’s standings for the season, and Pilet is now the leader in the drivers’ standings. Additionally, the Porsche North America squad-mates of Earl Bamber and Joerg Bergmeister took the second position at the finish, making the VIR race Porsche’s third 1-2 victory of the season.
Nick Tandy secured the pole position for the race, and took off from the word go. The Briton Porsche factory driver, having won at Le Mans just back in June showed the same level of racing prowess in his time behind the wheel. He’s secured the pole position three times, which is a series record. It’s safe to say that Tandy can live up to his nickname of “Quick Nick”.
Patrick Pilet, Driver Porsche 911 RSR #911 – “Thanks to the whole crew. Our 911 RSR was perfect. The race was not as easy as it may have seemed for us. On the contrary, it was really tough. We had to be fast, we couldn’t make any mistakes, and we had to keep a close eye on the fuel gauge. But once again the team gave us excellent support. Nick’s first stint was fantastic and he held the Ferrari at bay. That was the basis of our success. Starting tomorrow, we will turn our attention to the next race at Austin – but right now we’re going to celebrate.”
After his start from pole, Tandy made a cracking start into the race and opened a substantial gap in just a couple of laps. When Tandy passed off the the car to teammate Patrick Pilet, he had already done the work needed for Porsche to mount a commanding lights-to-flag victory. At the finish of the race, which went without any caution periods, the phenomenal pairing had built up a comfortable lead of more than 27 seconds over the rest of the 8-car GTLM field, and lapped all but the leader of GTD 5 times. They were off like a rocket, and couldn’t be stopped.
Bergmeister, similarly, set a very quick qualifying time to start in second place just a tenth off of Tandy’s time. After the green flag fell, Joerg felt some pressure, and lost second position for a bit. When Bergmeister passed the car off to Earl Bamber, it was obvious that Bamber wouldn’t settle for anything less than a Porsche 1-2. He was driving as a man possessed. After the pit stop, Bamber rejoined in fifth, and he spent the rest of his stint at the wheel chasing down those between he and the 911 car, making stellar pass after pass. He then spent the last half hour of the 2 hour 45 minute race fending off attacks from a quickly approaching Ferrari.
Earl Bamber, Driver Porsche 911 RSR #912 – “Our first stint was hard and afterwards we had to make up the lost positions. Our crew’s perfect pit stops helped. I immediately tried to put as much pressure on as possible. While I was running in third, I knew I wouldn’t get too many chances to make the double victory perfect for Porsche. So when that opportunity presented itself, I grabbed it.”
Porsche’s first win of the season was put up by the Falken Tire pairing of Henzler and Sellers, but they would not have quite such a successful day at VIR. The pair were forced to settle for 7th overall. There are two races remaining in the TUSCC season, Circuit of the Americas and Road Atlanta, for them to mount a redemption charge.
While the GTD class Porsches weren’t quite as successful, Ian James and Mario Farnbacher (both silver drivers in the car, by the way) scored a much needed podium place in 3rd. Some bad luck by the major Porsche players in GTD, including issues with the Park Place car and a pair of punctures for the #44 Magnus Racing car saw the “Heart of Racing” car mount the biggest challenge for the race. It wasn’t enough, unfortunately, to take down the Aston Martin/Ferrari domination.
GLTM Race result
1. Pilet/Tandy (F/GB), Porsche 911 RSR, 92 laps
2. Bamber/Bergmeister (NZ/D), Porsche 911 RSR, 92
3. Kaffer/Fisichella (D/I), Ferrari F458 Italia, 92
4. Edwards/Luhr (USA/D), BMW Z4 GTE, 92
5. Auberlen/Werner (USA/D), BMW Z4 GTE, 92
6. Magnussen/Garcia (DK/E), Chevrolet Corvette, 92
7. Henzler/Sellers (D/USA), Porsche 911 RSR, 91
8. Gavin/Milner (GB/USA), Chevrolet Corvette, 91
GTD Race result
1. Sweedler/Bell (USA/USA), Ferrari 458 Italia, 88 laps
2. Nielsen/Wittmer (DK/CDN), Aston Martin, 87
3. Farnbacher/James (D/USA), Porsche 911 GT America, 87
4. Palttala/Marsal (SF/USA), BMW Z4, 87
5. Haase/von Moltke (D/USA), Audi R8 LMS, 87
6. Keen/McNeil (USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT America, 87