The Porsche GT Team has a big goal for the penultimate round of the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The North American factory squad is eager to win the 2:40-hour race on the tradition-steeped Laguna Seca Raceway with the Porsche 911 RSR for the first time.
The famous venue close to the Pacific Ocean is the only North American road racing track on which Porsche has not scored a victory since 2014. The Porsche GT Team fields two 911 RSR in the hotly contested GTLM category. The driver crew Nick Tandy (Great Britain), Earl Bamber (New Zealand) as well as Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) not only scored victory at Petit Le Mans but recently won the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. In the GTD class, the customer squad Wright Motorsports campaigns a Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“For years, we have had some unfinished business at the Laguna Seca racetrack which we’d now like to settle. Our latest-generation Porsche 911 RSR should suit the special characteristics of this circuit better than its predecessors. After our victory at Road Atlanta, we’re heading to the race weekend in California with high expectations and huge motivation,” says Pascal Zurlinden, Director Factory Motorsport. The Laguna Seca Raceway in the dunes not far from the coastal city of Monterey is 3.601-kilometres long and features eleven turns. The most famous passage is the “Corkscrew”. In the history of this racetrack, the tight, spectacular and almost blind combination of curves winding down from the hillcrest has often been the scene of breathtaking manoeuvres.
Per lap, drivers have to cope with a 55-metre elevation change. Tyre wear and strategies were the key factors in the races on this track, which was built in 1957. “At Laguna Seca, the vehicle balance has to be perfect,” explains Steffen Höllwarth, Head of Operations IMSA Championship. “If understeer is even a touch too much, you lose a huge amount of time per lap. We expect the track to be dirty and slippery at the start of the race weekend. In the first sessions there is always a lot of sand on the track surface. Grip conditions change significantly up to the start of the race, so we have to take this into account in the setup.”
The Porsche GT team drivers
The Petit Le Mans winners Nick Tandy and Frenchman Frédéric Makowiecki share driving duties in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR. The pair won the previous round at Road Atlanta with the young Australian works driver Matt Campbell. The reigning GTLM driver champions Earl Bamber from New Zealand and Belgium’s Laurens Vanthoor share the cockpit of the No. 912 sister car. In the manufacturer’s classification, Porsche ranks third after nine of eleven rounds.
The customer team
In the GTD category, Wright Motorsports fields the Porsche 911 GT3 R with the starting number 16. Works driver Patrick Long joins forces with his American compatriot Ryan Hardwick in the cockpit. Wright Motorsports currently lies second in the GTD category and, just two points shy of the leader, has a good chance in the fight for the title.
Drivers’ comments prior to the race
Frédéric Makowiecki (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “I’m really excited about the upcoming race, because the track is legendary – and not just because of the Corkscrew, but also the overall layout. We’ll have to wait and see how well the new Porsche 911 RSR suits the quirks of this circuit. We’ve been fast on short circuits so far this year, so I’m heading into the penultimate race of the season with high hopes and expectations.
Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “Travelling to Laguna Seca is always an absolute highlight for me. You land in San Francisco with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge, then you drive along the Pacific coast towards Monterey and finally there’s the wonderful drive into the highlands not far from the ocean – it’s simply fabulous for a California fan like me. We’ve never been particularly successful on this circuit so far, but I’m feeling confident that this will change with the new Porsche 911 RSR.”
Live streaming of the race
Round ten of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at the Laguna Seca Raceway takes off on Sunday, 1 November, at 1:05 p.m. local time (10:05 p.m. CET). The 2:40-hour race can be viewed outside the USA and Canada on www.imsa.com.
The schedule (local time, CEST: -8/-9 hours)
Saturday, 31 October (Californian summertime)
08:00 – 09:00 am: Free practice 1
12:00 – 01:15 pm: Free practice 2
Sunday, 1 November (Californian wintertime)
08:30 – 08:45 am: Qualifying GTD
08:55 – 09:10 am: Qualifying GTLM
01:05 – 03:45 pm: Race
12:40 – 10:40 pm: Race
The Porsche 911 RSR
The Porsche 911 RSR (2019 model year) celebrated its debut in the IMSA SportsCar Championship at the 24 Hours of Daytona in January. Compared to its extremely successful predecessor model, the Weissach engineers made improvements to the car, most notably in areas such as drivability, efficiency, ergonomics and serviceability. About 95 per cent of all components are new. The 911 RSR is powered by a 4.2-litre, six-cylinder boxer engine.
This is the IMSA SportsCar Championship
The IMSA SportsCar Championship was founded in the USA and Canada in 2013 after the merger of the American Le Mans Series and the Grand-Am Series. A year later the new sports car race series, which is organised by the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), was contested for the first time. Sports prototypes and sports cars start in four different classes: GTLM (GT Le Mans), GTD (GT Daytona), Dpi (Daytona Prototype international) and LMP2 (Le Mans Prototype 2). The new Porsche 911 RSR is fielded in the GTLM class, and the Porsche 911 GT3 R contests the GTD class.