Strong team effort: Porsche locks out the first grid row in qualifying

Strong team effort: Porsche locks out the first grid row in qualifying

The two Porsche 911 RSR will take up round five of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship from the first grid row. During the qualifying on the Virginia International Raceway, Frenchman Frédéric Makowiecki clocked the best time in the No. 911 car.

The Qualifying

His works driver teammate Laurens Vanthoor from Belgium planted the No. 912 vehicle on the second grid spot. The Porsche GT Team gave an all-round impressive performance. In the notoriously competitive GTLM class (GT Le Mans), the racers from Weissach held a lead of more than half a second over their strong rivals. At this IMSA event, only the two GT classes are contested. The faster prototypes do not race at Virginia this weekend.

The seasoned Porsche factory squad chose the best tactic for the qualifying. At the beginning of the 15-minute session, Makowiecki and Vanthoor initially waited for a minute so that they would have a free run without traffic in the final attempt over six laps. During the qualifying, both works drivers pushed ever closer to the limit and made optimal use of the relatively poor grip level after the rain downpour. With a lap time of 1:40.389 seconds, Makowiecki was around three-tenths of a second faster than last year’s pole-setting time set by Vanthoor – a clear sign of the strength of the latest-generation 911 RSR. This is Porsche’s third pole position from five qualifying sessions so far this season. For the race, Makowiecki shares driving duties with Britain’s Nick Tandy. Vanthoor shares the cockpit of the No. 912 car with Earl Bamber from New Zealand.

In the GTD class, the American Ryan Hardwick posted the twelfth quickest time in the No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3 R. In Saturday’s race over two hours and forty minutes (start 2 pm local time, 8 pm CEST), the ambitious amateur driver shares the cockpit of the vehicle fielded by the Wright Motorsports customer squad with Porsche works driver Patrick Long (USA).

Qualifying quotes

Steffen Höllwarth (Head of Operations IMSA Championship): “It’s an incredible result. I congratulate our entire crew. Because of the heavy rain in the second free practice, we didn’t have as much track time as we wanted. With this in mind, there are still a couple of questions about our race pace. Still, the starting position is ideal and Porsche has always been particularly strong at the Virginia International Raceway. We’re looking forward to a fair and close race tomorrow.”

Frédéric Makowiecki (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “I last drove here in 2016 and I first had to familiarise myself again with the terrific layout and the special rollercoaster character of the track. It’s simply great fun! There’s no tolerance for errors on this circuit, so I was careful in gauging the limits at first and I seemed to have got it right on my flying lap. We’ve now done one session in the rain and two practices on a dry track, so we now know all the conditions that might be thrown at us in the race. We’re well prepared.”

Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “This is a perfect result for Porsche. I was very happy with my fastest lap and I actually thought it was worth pole position. It felt absolutely flawless, but Fred was faster – not bad. Perhaps we were a little too cautious with the setup of our car. We should’ve been a little more aggressive then more would’ve been possible. Our advantage in qualifying was pretty big. Let’s see how the competition looks in the race.”

Qualifying result

GTLM class

  1. Tandy/Makowiecki (GB/F), Porsche 911 RSR #911, 1:40.389 minutes
  2. Vanthoor/Bamber (B/NZ), Porsche 911 RSR #912, + 0.130 seconds
  3. Spengler/De Phillippi (CDN/USA), BMW M8 GTE #25, + 0.706 seconds
  4. Garcia/Taylor (E/USA), Chevrolet Corvette C8.R #3, + 0.839 seconds
  5. Gavin/Milner (GB/USA), Chevrolet Corvette C8.R #4, + 1.273 seconds
  6. Krohn/Edwards (FIN/USA), BMW M8 GTE #24, + 1.327 seconds

GTD class

  1. Fergus/Holton (USA/USA), McLaren 720S GT3, 1:45.236 minutes
  2. Foley/Auberlen (USA/USA), BMW M6 GT3, + 0.074 seconds
  3. Montecalvo/Bell (USA/USA), Lexus RC F GT3, + 0.161 second

Full results and championship standings at imsa.alkamelsystems.com.

The preview

At round five of the IMSA SportsCar Championship at the Virginia International Raceway, the Porsche GT Team will field two 911 RSR in the GTLM class. As the two faster prototype classes will not be contested on the 5.263-kilometre racetrack, the sports car manufacturer will fight for overall victory for the first time in this IMSA season. Last year, Porsche scored a one-two result on the tradition-steeped North American circuit. One customer squad joins the two ca. 515-hp factory-run RSR racers from Weissach on the grid for the race over two hours and 40 minutes: Wright Motorsports campaigns a Porsche 911 GT3 R in the GTD category.

The race

The Virginia International Raceway is located near the town of Alton in southern Virginia close to the border of the neighbouring state of North Carolina. The circuit, which was opened in 1957, can look back on an eventful history and has evolved from a straightforward circuit for road vehicles to a modern motorsport resort with hotels and leisure activities. In 1971, Porsche legends Hurley Haywood and Peter Gregg won the inaugural IMSA GT event there at the wheel of a Porsche 914/6 GT. Last year, works drivers Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and Patrick Pilet (France) took the flag as the overall winner in the 2017-generation Porsche 911 RSR ahead of their brand colleagues Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium).

The Porsche GT Team drivers

Works drivers Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor share driving duties in the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR. The reigning GTLM-class champions scored second place at the first two rounds of the season in Daytona. At Sebring, the pair claimed the third podium step after a spirited performance. After the spectacular rain race at Road America, Bamber and Vanthoor retain second place in the drivers’ championship with 120 points. Their team colleagues Nick Tandy and Frenchman Frédéric Makowiecki concluded the 24-hour race at the end of January and the race over 2:40 hours in Daytona on 4 July in third place. With 113 points, they currently rank fifth in the drivers’ classification. In the manufacturer’s classification, Porsche sits third, nine points behind the leader.

The customer team

At the first GT-only round of the year in the North American sports car series, the seasoned customer squad Wright Motorsports fields a 500+hp Porsche 911 GT3 R in the GTD category. The squad from the U.S. state of Ohio entrusts the cockpit of the No. 16 car to the American works driver Patrick Long and his compatriot Ryan Hardwick.

Comments prior to the race

Pascal Zurlinden (Director Factory Motorsport): “Over the past weeks we’ve managed to underline the potential of the Porsche 911 RSR at all times, but we were always hampered by incidents that prevented us from claiming the rewards. Now we want to put our bad luck behind us and build on last year’s strong performance here. The ingredients for big success are definitely there. In Virginia, the vehicles contesting the GTLM class are going for overall victory – ideal for a Porsche comeback.”

Steffen Höllwarth (Head of Operations IMSA Championship): “After a short break with two race-free weekends, Virginia is next up on the IMSA calendar. In the past, this circuit has proved to be very good turf for Porsche. We have fond memories of our one-two results last year. We’re optimistic that the track layout will also suit our latest-generation 911 RSR. We want to attack again in Virginia and reduce the gap to the top.”

Frédéric Makowiecki (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “We have two difficult races behind us, where we didn’t score the results we were aiming for. In Virginia, we definitely want to finish on the podium. That’s one of the key factors in the fight for the title. We’re aiming to secure our first IMSA win of the season. I think we’ve earned it after the last few races.”

Live streaming of the race

Round five of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at the Virginia International Raceway takes off on Saturday, 22 August, at 02:00 pm local time (8:00 pm CEST). The race over 2:40 hours can be viewed outside the USA and Canada on www.imsa.com.

The schedule (local time, CEST: -6 hours)

Friday, 21 August

8.00 – 9:00 am – Free practice 1

12.00 – 1:15 pm – Free practice 2

5:35 – 5:50 pm – Qualifying GTD

6:00 – 6:15 pm – Qualifying GTLM

Saturday, 22 August

2:00 – 4:40 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 ca. 515-hp car received improvements, most notably to areas such as drivability, efficiency, ergonomics and serviceability. About 95 percent 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. The Porsche GT Team tackles the 2020 season in North America as the title defenders in the manufacturers’, drivers’ and team classifications.

Reference: https://newsroom.porsche.com/en.html

Source: René Staud