On a hot and sunny day in New York State, Porsche drivers went to work in an attempt to tackle six hours of racing against some of the best sports car racers in the world. While the ambient air temperatures soared to well above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the tires were skating around on 150+ degree pavement. The conditions were arduous, but Porsche was prepared. With 42 cars rolling onto the grid Sunday morning, eight of which in the GTLM class, it was set to be a hectic and busy day at the track. Porsche managed to survive with both cars intact after six hours, and even managed a podium.
Porsche had qualified both cars on the third row, but with quick pit work and a handful of spectacular passing moves on track, they both managed to slice their way through the field. In fact, at the three-hour mark of the race, the Porsche squad was running first and second. After an additional 30 minutes at the front, both Porsches were on their pit-in lap for a fresh set of tires and fuel when a safety car was called and the pit lane was closed, forcing them to stay out. Unfortunately for Porsche, a handful of their competitors were in a position to pit before the lane closed, giving them a distinct advantage on fuel strategy and track position. When they finally managed to get into the pits and return to the track, that simple bit of bad luck dropped them to fourth and sixth.
At the end of six hours, it was the #911 car of Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet coming home in third, locking out the final podium position behind the winning Ford GT and the second placed Corvette. The sister car of Laurens Vanthoor and Earl Bamber followed them home in fourth.
Quotes after the race
Steffen Höllwarth, Porsche Programme Manager IMSA SportsCar Championship:
“We can be happy with positions three and four. A clever tyre choice and a good strategy put us in the lead in the first half of the race. Then the safety car came out at an inopportune time. Several parts were lying on the track, but it wasn’t as if a car had hit the wall. For this reason you didn’t necessarily expect the safety car to be deployed. Several vehicles that were running far behind us opted to take the risk and come in for an early pit stop and that brought them forward. But when you’re running in the lead you don’t risk making such a stop.”
Patrick Pilet (Porsche 911 RSR #911):
“It was a very intense race. The heat inside the cockpit was extreme and during my final stint my drinking system didn’t work. Now I’m thirsty but I’m also pleased to have climbed the podium. The race was a little complicated. At the beginning I was really wedged in and that means you lose a lot of downforce. In terms of strategy I’m proud of the team. We responded well. Ultimately we earned important championship points to take home.”
Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 RSR #912):
“We did our best and fought hard. The field was very tight so it came down to the details. Our speed was good but we simply got stuck behind other cars too often. Implementing various strategic measures we attempted to manoeuvre ourselves out of these situations but it didn’t work. Luck simply wasn’t on our side today.”
1. Hand/Müller (USA/D), Ford GT, 190 laps
2. Magnussen/Garcia (DK/E), Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, 190 laps
3. Tandy/Pilet (GB/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 190 laps
4. Vanthoor/Bamber (B/NZ), Porsche 911 RSR, 190 laps
5. Gavin/Milner (GB/USA), Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, 189 laps
6. Briscoe/Westbrook (AUS/GB), Ford GT, 189 laps
7. Sims/De Phillippi/Auberlen (GB/USA/USA), BMW M8 GTE, 189 laps
8. Krohn/Edwards/Blomqvist (FIN/USA/S), BMW M8 GTE, 163 laps
1. Machavern/Palttala/Yount (USA/FIN/USA), BMW M6 GT3, 186 laps
2. Legge/Parente (GB/P), Acura NSX GT3, 186 laps
3. Sellers/Snow (USA/USA), Lamborghini Huracan GT3, 186 laps
6. Lindsey/Bergmeister (USA/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 186 laps
9. Long/Nielsen/Renauer (USA/DK/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 186 laps