If every race in IMSA was a victory for Porsche, the series would be thoroughly un-interesting. After recent strong performances at Lime Rock and Elkhart Lake, the most recent round at VIR resulted in 7th and 8th place finishes for the Porsche GT Team. Because of VIR's layout, with several very long straights, the Porsche 911 RSR's lower top speed proved to be its downfall. The VIR race proved to be extremely clean, and with no periods with the safety car out, Porsche was unable to close the gap with the faster Fords, Corvettes and Ferraris. In GTD, the privateer Porsche teams were also kept off the podium by Lamborghini, BMW and Mercedes entries.
IMSA's balance of performance system is not perfect, and while in previous years the teams running Vipers have been more adversely affected, this year is evidently Porsche's turn. Per Laurens Vanthoor, "Our 911 RSR ran well and I had a good feeling in the car. Everyone could see that we didn’t have the pace, especially on the straights. The effect was particularly noticeable on this racetrack."
Marco Ujhasi, the Director of GT Factory Motorsports is hopeful that the results of this race will encourage IMSA officials to review the results of this race, and help make the RSR competitive at faster tracks. The 911 RSR struggled at VIR thanks to the track's lengthy full-throttle passages where the car's lack of speed at the top-end was more apparent than at tighter circuits, like Lime Rock.
Despite the setbacks, the drivers seem optimistic about the future. With two races remaining in the season, the Porsche GT drivers have a long ways to go to move to the top of the standings, though we are hopeful that they can work toward stronger results as the season winds towards a close.
In the words of Gianmaria Bruni; "Aside from the lack of top speed, the race for us ran without any problems. The team worked well over the entire weekend. What came out in the end, however, is frustrating, but it's no reason to hang our heads. As a team we have to pull together again, and do better at Laguna Seca."
Porsche was also kept off the podium in GTD. The Weathertech sponsored GT3 R driven by Gunnar Jeannette and Cooper MacNeil managed a 4th place finish, leading three other GT3 Rs, including the #28 Alegra motorsports entry driven by Patrick Long and Daniel Morad.
Race result GTLM class
1. Garcia/Magnussen (E/DK), Corvette, 93 laps
2. Westbrook/Briscoe (GB/USA), Ford GT, 93
3. Fisichella/Vilander (I/SF), Ferrari 488 GTE, 93
4. Auberlen/Sims (USA/GB), BMW M6, 93
5. Hand/Müller (USA/D), Ford GT, 92
6. Gavin/Milner (GB/USA), Corvette, 92
7. Vanthoor/Bruni (B/I), Porsche 911 RSR, 92
8. Pilet/Werner (F/D), Porsche 911 RSR, 92
9. Edwards/Tomczyk (USA/D), BMW M6, 72
Race result GTD class
1. Lewis/Mul (USA/NL), Lamborghini GT3, 91 laps
2. Klingmann/Krohn (D/SF), BMW M6, 91
3. Keating/Bleekemolen (USA/NL), Mercedes GT3, 90
6. MacNeil/Jeannette (USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 89
8. Braun/Bennett (USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 89
9. Long/Morad (USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 89
10. Bergmeister/Lindsey (D/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 88