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Porsche’s Results And Photos From Laguna Seca

The IMSA season is almost over with just one more race to run, the famed Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta next month. Porsche knew going into this race that they had to keep momentum up and the team strong. This was an important race for the drivers to do well and to gain some much needed points. Porsche as a whole came out of the weekend alright, having scored podium places in both the GTLM and GTD categories, but there were some really depressing moments for Porsche fans this weekend as well. Take, for example, the start of the race, which you can watch in the video below.


From the drop of the green flag, things didn’t go Porsche’s way. The prototypes starting up ahead of the GTs had some start issues that saw the #5 Cadillac prototype spun around and stopped in the middle of the track. Initial contact with the spun car was made by one of the Ford GTs on its way through, and that spun the prototype sideways across the track, completely blocking Nick Tandy’s trajectory. He couldn’t react in time, and was forced headlong into the side of the Cadillac. From that moment, before even reaching the start line, Tandy and Pilet had their day ended for them. Thanks to their victory at Sebring, and a podium at the Watkins Glen round, the pair still hold second place points in the North American Endurance Championship, which they could win with a good finish at the 10-hour endurance Petit Le Mans.


Things went a little differently for the #912 crew of Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor, as the duo teamed up for an incredible podium finish. After the start line mess, there was a long period of yellow flag running that allowed drivers to conserve fuel and stay out a bit longer. Porsche, on the other hand, decided to come in to pit for fresh fuel and tires while under caution, stretching their next stop even farther. Because of that off-strategy stop, Porsche took the lead of the race while everyone else pitted for fuel just before the half-distance mark of the race. When Bamber was called into the pits to hand off to teammate Vanthoor, it was all out conservation, as Laurens was forced to run the remaining hour and 17 minutes on that tank of fuel and set of tires. He brought the #911 home in second place, just a few seconds off the lead.

Porsche customer team Park Place Motorsports also brought home a podium place for the German marque. Factory ace Joerg Bergmeister brought the car home in a fuel-saving strategy that very similarly aped that of the factory effort. Running the GT3 R across the finish line in second place, Bergmeister paired with Patrick Lindsey.

This round of the IMSA championship is a great warm up for drivers at Laguna Seca ahead of Rennsport Reunion later this month.

Comments on the race

Steffen Höllwarth (Porsche Program Manager IMSA SportsCar Championship):
“That was a real thriller! First and foremost, I’m very pleased that nothing bad happened to Nick. He couldn’t do anything about the accident directly after the start. The impact was hard. The extensive safety features on the 911 RSR have proven their worth today. The race for our number 912 car was marked by caution phases, but we didn’t let this interfere with our strategy. The final stint was all about conserving as much fuel as possible and not ruining the tyres. Laurens did a great job. Of course we would have liked to win, but ultimately that was an impressive performance from the entire team.”

Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 RSR #912):
“Based on the fact that we expected a difficult race, this result is really good. Of course it’s a shame that it wasn’t quite enough for first place. It was incredibly tough. We came into the pits early and therefore had to be extremely conservative with our fuel the whole time. Under such circumstances it’s difficult to keep the tyres at the optimal temperature. Such things don’t make the job easier. I did everything I could and finished in second place. We couldn’t do any better than that today.”

Patrick Pilet (Porsche 911 RSR #911):
“It’s extremely disappointing, but that’s how it goes sometimes in motor racing. When you have a lot of cars from different classes starting together, it can quickly lead to collisions and chaos. Nick couldn’t do anything. The prototype stood right in the middle of the track – he had no chance.”


Race Results

GTLM class
1. Sims/De Phillippi (GB/USA), BMW M8 GTE, 100 laps
2. Vanthoor/Bamber (B/NZ), Porsche 911 RSR, 100 laps
3. Magnussen/Garcia (DK/E), Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, 100 laps
4. Krohn/Edwards (FIN/USA), BMW M8 GTE, 100 laps
5. Gavin/Milner (GB/USA), Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, 100 laps
6. Briscoe/Westbrook (AUS/GB), Ford GT, 71 laps
7. Hand/Müller (USA/D), Ford GT, 2 laps
8. Tandy/Pilet (GB/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 0 laps

GTD class
1. Legge/Parente (GB/P), Acura NSX GT3, 97 laps
2. Bergmeister/Lindsey (D/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 97 laps 
3. Keating/Bleekemolen (USA/NL), Mercedes-AMG GT3, 96 laps
11. Long/Nielsen (USA/DK), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 96 laps


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Get Ready For Tractor Racing At Rennsport Reunion VI

When you think of open-wheel, open-cockpit Porsches, especially in the context of Rennsport Reunion and Laguna Seca, you probably jump straight to the Indianapolis 500 cars of the 80s and 90s, or the Porsche-branded Formula One racers of the 60s, or even the Porsche-engined McLaren F1 racers. Chances are, you didn’t think of Porsche tractors, but that’s exactly what is going down. A pair of tractor races will be part of the festivities during the largest single-make motorsport events in the world later this month. Even better, the event promises a single lap race with a classic Le Mans-style running start, and celebrity and motorsport legend competitors.

An anonymous driver was quoted as saying: “We are race car drivers, so there is always going to be that competitive spirit to win, whether it’s behind the wheel of a 1,000 horsepower Porsche 917/30 or a Porsche tractor pumping out an impressive 14 horsepower. We’ll see who is laughing when I cross the finish line first and go down in the annals of Porsche history as the first-ever tractor race winner!”

Porsche’s tractors were built from 1956 to 1963, and they claim to have built more than 125,000 examples for worldwide consumption. Tractors were produced in cylinder arrangements from one to four, and varying levels of weight and size accordingly. The race will begin at the start-finish line, and will only run through Turn 5, as the race organizers didn’t want to see any of these vintage machines take a tumble down the famed Corkscrew.

Race 1 will begin at 1:15 PM on Saturday, Sept. 29th and the second race will be on Sunday, Sept. 30th at 1:40 PM. If you have a Porsche tractor, and want to enter to race, the fee is $550, which includes paddock space, two tickets, a VIP parking pass, and an entry gift. Sign up by sending the year and model of your tractor, as well as a photo, to ardelle@laguna-seca.com. See you there?


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Porsche Debuts The Official Poster Of Rennsport Reunion VI

Dennis Simon has knocked his assignment out of the proverbial park, yet again, with the new poster for this year’s upcoming Rennsport Reunion VI celebrations. Having created four of the previous five posters for Porsche’s premier vintage racing festival, he clearly has mastered the aesthetic that Porsche enjoys for their look. With classic brush-stroke painted graphics, this is reminiscent of Porsche’s motorsport-inspired dealership posters of the good old days.

This year’s Rennsport Reunion poster features prominently the Penske Porsche RS Spyder LMP2 racer of the late 2000s, front and center. This DHL-sponsored car fought well above it’s class, taking on the might of the Audi diesel LMP1 prototypes at tracks all over the North American continent. It won a number of races overall, and won the American Le Mans championship laurels in 2008.

In the upper left corner, you can see the gorgeous shape of Porsche’s first endurance racer to take an overall victory. This 718 RS 60 brought Porsche to the world stage in endurance racing, having won the 1960 12 hours of Sebring outright. Hans Herrmann, and Olivier Gendebien teamed up to complete a mega 196 laps, ahead of an identical car entered by Brumos. The pair of 1.6-liter sportscars finished 1-2 ahead of a scad of larger displacement Ferrari 250s.

Jumping out of a cloud of dust and sand in the lower right corner is Porsche’s strangest and perhaps most incredible victory ever. The 1986-winning Paris-Dakar rally Porsche 959 Group B is resplendent in perhaps the best looking of Porsche’s Rothmans liveried cars. Having covered 6200 miles to beat the best rally cars in the world, this car has rightfully earned its place in Porsche’s motorsport history.

I don’t know about you, but seeing this poster finally revealed is getting me pretty excited for Rennsport Reunion VI this fall. See you there?


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Porsche 962 Wastegate Nirvana at Laguna Seca

Skylar Robinson, son of famous American racer Chip Robinson, puts on a show in a raucous Porsche 962 making a peculiar series of noises. The 2.8-liter, twin-turbo six in the middle of his IMSA GTP racer squeaks and roars, and when the full 750 horsepower arrives in one big lump, it fires the car down Laguna Seca’s straighter sections at a pant-wetting pace. More exciting than the raw speed, going by the comments beneath the video, is the distinct « choo-choo-choo » noise echoing in the cabin, often referred to as ‘wastegate chatter’.

What’s A Wastegate?

The wastegate is, essentially, a valve which diverts exhaust gasses away from a turbocharger to keep it from spinning too quickly and, therefore, increasing boost pressure too much. The valve is controlled by a pressure actuator, which is linked to the turbocharger, and the wastegate is held shut by a spring inside the actuator. When the boost pressure exceeds the pre-set maximum, it compresses this spring, progressively opening the wastegate to bleed off excess pressure, regulating the impeller’s speed, and ensuring the turbocharger and the motor aren’t damaged.

How Does it Differ From Compressor Surge?

Though the fluttering noise made by this 962’s engine might be referred to as wastegate chatter, it is technically known as compressor surge. When the throttle plate closes, the combination of the lack of airflow, consequent rise in pressure, and the high speed of the compressor cause the compressor blades to effectively lose their “grip” on the air. Aerodynamically speaking, the air separates from the back of the compressor blades, allowing some air to escape back out through the compressor. The resulting pressure drop in the intercooler piping allows the blades to “grip” again which, under the residual momentum of the turbo, will increase the pressure and the cycle repeats. This is what causes that remarkable flutter sound that will crack a smile across the stoniest of faces.


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RS Spyders Duel at Laguna Seca

At Rennsport V, a collection of mouth-watering classics set out to run for stands full of fans. Some drivers take the whole affair casually; parading and showing off their wares, while others—unable to divorce themselves from their competitive instincts—take it much more seriously.

Jeroen Bleekemolen is part of this second category, and shows that the RS Spyder has enough performance to run circles around GT3s, GT2s, 962s, and even a few Daytona Prototypes. It’s striking to see just where this featherweight LMP2 Porsche excels, where the others can match it, and how the RS remains remarkably fast, even with a mismatched gearset and plenty of short-shifting.

Bleekemolen has to give some of the production-based racers a wide berth, but generally speaking, they’re not much of a challenge, and all he has to do is pick a decent spot to overtake. With the power, downforce, and braking to be fast just about everywhere, he’s got plenty of options to choose from. His difficulties lie ahead with the prototypes.

The RS is no slouch in a straight line

In fact, its ability to outdrag just about every machine here supports that, but it has to be noted that Bleekemolen is carrying far more entry and exit speed everywhere else, too. The engine in his RS Spyder is so friendly, he never has to correct much oversteer except on his first lap. Take, for instance, his spat with a contemporary Daytona Prototype—one of the few powered by a Porsche flat-six. After the two exit the Corkscrew at roughly the same speed (6:55), the RS effortlessly nips around the outside—and these cars make similar amounts of power! Even in the slowest sections, Bleekemolen is clearly comfortable deploying all 503 horsepower to the pavement; the 3.4-liter V8 is so tractable.

In an ego-shattering pass, Bleekemolen nips around the outside of a comparable car without any drama.

The 962 Are Much Harder to Pass

The Porsches which prove more difficult to pass are the 962s. Aided by gobs of turbocharged turbo in the mid-range, the 962s here can keep Bleekemolen working quite hard to find a way around. Additionally, the poor rearward visibility and wide track of these ’80s legends makes them a challenge to overtake in a safe fashion, as we see specifically at 7:25. Only at the last moment can Bleekemolen pass with his Porsche’s most arguable advantage: braking.

After briefly struggling with a few of the force-fed 962s, he comes upon another RS Spyder driving just as quickly and defensively. Quite fairly, the man in the purple RS squeezes Bleekemolen into Turn 6 (12:18), and holds a defensive line up the hill, through the Corkscrew, and even into Turn 9. Though Bleekemolen scythed fairly easily though most of the field, this man makes him work quite hard. Only on the front straight can our man get by in a standard overtaking maneuver which was probably facilitated by the other party.

Nevertheless, it’s a great duel we haven’t seen for over a decade, a clinical demonstration of this Porsche’s strengths, and a clear argument for why these beautiful machines were some of the best analog thoroughbreds to come out of the Porsche stable. It’s just a pity the LMP2 cost cap effectively killed these beauties.


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