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Lone Star Le Mans

2016 WeatherTech USSC: Lone Star Le Mans race report

After beginning their United SportsCar Championship partnership at the 2015 24 Hours of Daytona, Earl Bamber and Frédéric Makowiecki finally took their first IMSA victory at the penultimate round of the 2016 series, the Lone Star Le Mans event.

In the searing heat of Austin, Texas, the Porsche North America Racing 911 RSRs enjoyed their most competitive weekend of the season, locking out the second row in qualifying as Patrick Pilet in the no. 911 car bested his countryman, Makowiecki by under two tenths of a second.

At the start of the two-hour 40-minute race, the factory Porsche pairing immediately found a way passed the pole-sitting Ford GT, Pilet slotting into second behind the lead Ferrari 488 as Makowiecki occupied third.

2016 IMSA - Circuit of The Americas

This trio immediately began gapping the rest of the GTLM field around the 3.43-mile circuit, working out a comfortable advantage over the no. 3 Corvette by the time of the first round of fuel stops.

In the pits, Pilet handed over to Nick Tandy as the Briton’s 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning teammate, Bamber took control of the no. 912 machine, the duo maintaining their podium places behind the Risi Competizione Ferrari.

As the ambient temperature rose to 35 degrees Celsius, the action on track also began to heat up. Just before the hour mark, Tandy made his move on lap 27, taking the lead from Giancarlo Fisichella in the Ferrari as Bamber watched on from a small distance in third.

2016 IMSA - Circuit of The Americas

However, just after the hour mark, Tandy was delayed in traffic as Fisichella fought back aggressively, nerfing the lead Porsche 911 RSR out of the way before stretching out a slender advantage over the chasing duo.

It was the factory Porsche team that would have the last laugh though when an electrical issue forced the Ferrari in for an unscheduled stop with just 25 minutes on the clock, handing the top two positions back to the Weissach cars.

In the intervening period, Bamber had been working on closing the gap to teammate, Tandy, the no. 912 RSR’s race pace improving as the clock ticked down and the Porsche duo assumed control at the head of the field.

2016 IMSA - Circuit of The Americas

With a chance of defending its USCC titles still a slim possibility, Porsche chose to swap its two cars, Tandy slowing to allow Bamber into a lead the Kiwi would convert into his first Stateside victory.

Behind, the no. 911 car was just able to fend off a resurgent no. 3 Corvette in the final stages to secure a Porsche one-two for the first time since last year’s meeting at VIR.

The result reduces the no. 912 crew’s deficit to the championship-leading no. 4 Corvette from 37 to 28 points, with a total of 36 available at the final race of the year, Petit Le Mans, in two weeks’ time.

For all the latest Porsche race news and reports, make sure you check out our dedicated motorsport section now.

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2015 Tudor United SportsCar Championship review part two

As part one explored, the first half of the 2015 Tudor United SportsCar Championship was not as easy for Porsche North America Racing as the US factory team had hoped.

However, by the time of Watkins Glen, there were signs that fortunes were improving for the works 911s. Here’s how they fared in the second half of the season:

Round 6 – Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
2015 - IMSA TUDOR CTMP Mosport

For the USCC’s solo visit north of the border to Canada, PNAR finally secured the victory that their form at Watkins Glen had suggested was on the way as Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet led from lights to flag in the no. 911 RSR.

After Tandy secured pole position on Saturday, Sunday’s two-hour 40-minute encounter was relatively straightforward for the Anglo-French pairing, although Pilet had to fend off the BMWs and Corvettes during the middle portion of the race.

The no. 912 car of Earl Bamber and Jörg Bergmeister could only manage to finish seventh in the GTLM field, one place ahead of Watkins Glen winners, Team Falken.
No. 911 result: 1st
No. 912 result: 7th

Round 7 – Road America
Road America

Porsche North America Racing’s good form continued at one of the USA’s most challenging tracks, Elkhart Lake. As in Canada, it was Pilet and Tandy in the no. 911 machine that led the field at the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase.

Bamber took pole in the no. 912 RSR before the sister’s car fuel strategy handed the advantage to the no. 911 car late in the race, giving Tandy and Pilet their second victory of the year.

Bergmeister rallied after the last fuel stop to move from third to second, giving Porsche its first one-two of 2015, moving the Stuttgart manufacturer to the head of the championship standings.
No. 911 result: 1st
No. 912 result: 2nd

Round 8 – Virginia International Raceway
VIR

Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet continued their winning streak at the Oak Tree Grand Prix in Virginia, their no. 911 Porsche 911 RSR proving to be the class of the field.

Leading the way from pole position again, the Briton land the foundations for his third USCC win of the year before Pilet brought the car home safe and sound, giving the Frenchman the lead in the drivers’ standings and placing the no. 911 atop the teams’ table.

The race was more of a battle for the no. 912 machine. However, after a scintillating battle in the final few laps, Bergmeister ensured that Porsche once again took a one-two finish.

No. 911 result: 1st
No. 912 result: 2nd

Round 9 – Lone Star Le Mans
2015 - United SportsCar Championship - Circuit of The Americas

For the penultimate race of 2015, the Tudor USCC headed to Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Once again, the factory Porsche 911 RSRs were the class of the field but, for the first time since Watkins Glen, left the track without victory.

In a race with just two caution periods, both the no. 911 and no. 912 Porsches were forced to make a late splash and dash on the final lap, dropping Pilet and Tandy from first to third.

The no. 912 machine of Bamber and Bergmeister dropped from second to fifth, giving BMW a glimmer of hope heading into the championship decideder.
No. 911 result: 3rd
No. 912 result: 5th

Round 10 – Petit Le Mans
Road Atlanta

To secure all three Tudor USCC GTLM class title, Porsche North America Racing pulled off one of the great surprises of modern sports car racing as, in a race blighted by torrential downpours, Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy won Petit Le Mans outright in a GT car.

In conditions that sometimes bordered on dangerous, the no. 911 Porsche 911 RSR was very often the fastest car on the track, taking the lead for the final time just before a red flag brought proceedings to a close after eight of the scheduled ten hours.

The no. 912 car of Bamber, Bergmeister and Frédéric Makowiecki finished last in the GTLM class after a number of incidents but it didn’t stop Porsche from taking the drivers’, teams’ and manufacturers’ championships.
No. 911 result: 1st
No. 912 result: 8th

For all the latest Porsche race and rally news, check out our dedicated motorsport section now.

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2015 Tudor USCC: Lone Star Le Mans race report

Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet came within one lap of taking Porsche North America Racing’s fourth consecutive United SportsCar Championship win this weekend at the Lone Star Le Mans event in Austin, Texas.

The works Porsche 911 RSRs have dominated proceedings in the US series recently, with the no. 911 entry of Pilet and Total 911 columnist, Tandy triumphing at Mosport, Road America and Virginia International Raceway.

At the Circuit of the Americas in Texas, the Anglo-French duo’s run of success looked set to continue as Pilet saw off championship rivals, the no. 25 BMW Z4 of Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner, to take Porsche’s fifth USCC pole position of 2015.

As soon as the green flag waved, the trio of GTLM Porsche 911 RSRs headed the field at Circuit of the Americas.

Proving it not to be a flash in the pan, Earl Bamber managed to place the no. 912 Porsche 911 RSR third on the GTLM grid, and was confident that a front row start would have been possible if it hadn’t been for traffic.

When the two-hour, 40-minute race went green just after midday on Saturday, the two factory 911s immediately led the field away, with Bamber jumping into second followed by the customer Falken Tires 911 RSR of Wolf Henzler.

In baking conditions (where track temperatures hit 60 degrees Celsius), Pilet started working on building an advantage over his teammate as Bamber was left to fend off the charging Henzler.

Nick Tandy (left) and Patrick Pilet (right) had been on course for a fourth consecutive USCC victory, a win that would have strengthened their title hopes considerably.

The German managed to find a way passed the Kiwi 24 Hours of Le Mans winner on the same lap that Pilet was tipped into a spin by a prototype class car, wiping out the Frenchman’s six-second advantage and allowing the Falken 911 to take the lead.

However, Pilet wasn’t to be beaten that easily, snatching back first position with a robust move later on in the lap as the two Porsche 911 RSRs went door-to-door around the 3.4-mile COTA track near Austin, Texas.

Bamber would eventually make it back into second before the two factory Porsches pitted for their respective driver changes. All went smoothly in the pits, with Tandy and the no. 911 car emerging in the lead, a few seconds up the road from Jörg Bergmeister in the sister no. 912 machine.

The defining moment of the race. The two Porsche 911 RSRs pit at the start of the final lap to take on a splash of fuel.

As in the first half of the race, the white works cars set about building a small advantage over the field. However, in a race punctuated by just two brief safety car periods, it became clear that fuel consumption was going to be a deciding factor.

Despite the best efforts of Tandy and Bergmeister, with just one lap to go, the no. 911 and no. 912 RSRs dived into the pitlane for a final splash and dash, allowing the no. 25 BMW of Werner and Auberlen to take victory in a race that Porsche had dominated.

Tandy managed to finish third, limiting the no. 911 crew’s losses in the teams’ championship (where their lead has been cut from five points to three ahead of the season finale, Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on 1-3 October) while Bergmeister took fifth.

For all the latest United SportsCar Championship news and reports, make sure you check out our dedicated motorsport section.

The Team Falken 911 RSR of Bryan Sellers and Wolf Henzler pushed the factory entries hard in Austin, Texas. They would eventually finish fourth.

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FIA WEC Tudor USCC: Circuit of The Americas preview

The FIA World Endurance Championship returns to action this weekend for the first time since the 24 Hours of Le Mans and, at Austin’s Circuit of The Americas, the WEC will be joined by the Tudor United SportsCar Championship to form an international sports car weekend extravaganza.

Saturday morning will see the Tudor USCC competitors, including Porsche North America Racing’s two 991 RSRs, do battle in the penultimate round of their 2014 season, a race contested over two hours, 45 minutes and starting at 11:35am local time.

With Porsche heading the GTLM manufactuers’ standings heading into the Lone Star Le Mans event in Austin, Texas, the decision has been made to supplement the usual no. 911 and no. 912 entries with a third Porsche 911 RSR, no. 910.

Porsche's third Tudor USCC entry is numbered after the Porsche 910 prototype racer, seen here at the Targa Florio.

The third Porsche North America Racing entry will be an all-French affair with Patrick Pilet (who helped the no. 911 crew to Daytona triumph in January) teaming up with Frédéric Makowiecki, the latter a newcomer to US racing.

They will be hoping to ensure that Weissach secures the manufacturers’ title come the end of the year, a season which has seen Porsche return to factory US competition for the first time since 1998.

After his practice accident last time out at VIR, Richard Lietz is still unconfirmed in the Daytona-winning no. 911 RSR. This means that Jörg Bergmeister has been drafted in to support Nick Tandy should the British Porsche ace require a fully fit teammate.

The Porsche 911 RSRs were fast but unlucky at VIR. They will be hoping for more in Texas.

The no. 912 entry of Patrick Long and Michael Christensen remains unchanged, with the Dane able to devote his full attention to the Sebring-winning crew having been drafted in to co-drive with Tandy in Virginia.

Bad luck has hampered the Porsche North America Racing outfit in the last few rounds however, the recent Balance of Performance adjustments appear to have equalised the field, giving the 911 RSRs their best shot of victory since the season-opening triumphs.

After the chequered flag falls on the USCC race, all eyes will turn to the FIA WEC event, run over six hours of the 3.43-mile COTA track. Weissach will continue to be busy with the Porsche Team Manthey squad in action, alongside the Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 programme.

2014 Tudor United SportsCar Championship - VIR

For Austin – the fourth round of the 2014 world championship – the Manthey-run 991 RSRs have seen their line-ups shuffled, with Patrick Pilet moving across from the no. 91 entry, to replace Marco Holzer in the no. 92 Porsche.

He will team up with Makowiecki, leaving Jörg Bergmeister in the no. 91 car where Lietz should join him, if the Austrian is cleared to drive this weekend after his arm-breaking crash.

This means that Tandy has been registered as third driver in the no. 91 RSR for Austin, meaning that there is a strong possibility two factory 911 racers will be on double WEC and USCC duty at Circuit of The Americas.

The Porsche Team Manthey 911 RSRs haven't been out since Le Mans. Can they add to their Silverstone FIA WEC victory?

The British 911 racer (and Total 911 columnist) feels that “actually doing the two races on the Saturday will probably not be too stressful.” However, the hectic practice schedule means “a lot of time will be spent in briefings, track time and other commitments between the two team. That will be more challenging.”

Austin’s Lone Star Le Mans weekend will also mark Hartmut Kristen’s final meeting as Vice President of Porsche Motorsport. The long-serving head of the 911 race programme is retiring on 1 October and will be replaced by former 918 Spyder project manager, Dr Frank Walliser.

For all the latest, comprehensive race reports make sure you check out Total911.com after all the weekend’s action. You can also get up-to-the-minute updates via our Twitter feed.

The Porsche 919 Hybrid will be looking to head the FIA WEC field as it races into the darkness on Saturday.

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