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PORSCHE’S RESULTS AND PICTURES IN THE IMSA WEATHERTECH SPORTS CAR CHALLENGE AT Petit Le Mans

Porsche’s 2017 season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship came to a close this weekend in Braselton, Georgia at Road Atlanta. While Porsche’s results in the race itself were mixed at best, they were enough to clinch the the GTLM-class title in the North American Endurance Cup.

What Is The North American Endurance Cup Anyway?

It’s a series within a series. It’s a unique four-race competition encompassing the marquee endurance races on the IMSA WeatherTech United SportsCar Championship. The Endurance Cup begins with the the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. and includes the remaining three endurance races in the regular WeatherTech Series. The second event is the Twelve Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla. The third is the Six Hours of the Glen at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, N.Y. The Endurance Cup ends with Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga., which is also the season finale for the WeatherTech series.

The winners in each of the classes are awarded points at specific intervals for drivers, teams and manufacturers:

    • For the Rolex 24 At Daytona, points are awarded at six hours, 12 hours, 18 hours, and at the finish.
    • At the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, points are awarded at four hours, eight hours and at the finish.
    • At the Six Hours of The Glen, points are awarded at three hours and at the finish.
    • At Petit Le Mans, points are awarded at four hours, eight hours and at the finish.

Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Vice President Motorsport and GT Cars: “We’ve clinched the first title for the new 911 RSR at this race. By winning the North American Endurance Cup for drivers and teams, we’ve shown that we were always at the front at the right time for the major endurance races and, hence, have underlined the reliability of our car over the season. For a maiden season with a completely new car, this was a good performance. Congratulations to our customer teams for their podium results in the GTD class. With outstanding performances from drivers and teams, they’ve once again shown what our 911 GT3 R can do. I hope that they can repeat these successes next year.”

Porsche’s Overall Performance This Season

During its maiden race season in the USA and Canada, the new Porsche 911 RSR had already notched up numerous successes. Its first victory came on 22 July at Lime Rock, with four podium placings at Daytona, Long Beach, Elkhart Lake and Laguna Seca as well as pole position at Bowmanville.

GTLM class Race results

1. Auberlen/Sims/Wittmer (USA/GB/CAN), BMW M6, 392 laps
2. Garcia/Magnussen/Rockenfeller (E/DK/D), Corvette, 392
3. Fisichella/Vilander/Pier Guidi (I/SF/I)), Ferrari 488 GTE, 392
4. Gavin/Milner/Fässler (GB/USA/CH), Corvette, 392
5. Vanthoor/Bruni/Bamber (B/I/NZ), Porsche 911 RSR, + 392
6. Pilet/Werner/Tandy (F/D/GB), Porsche 911 RSR, 392

7. Hand/Müller/Bourdais (USA/D/F), Ford GT, 392
8. Westbrook/Briscoe/Dixon (GB/USA/NZ), Ford GT, 390
9. Edwards/Tomczyk/Catsburg (USA/D/NL), BMW M6, 338

Porsche in GTD

At Petit Le Mans, Porsche customer teams contesting the GTD class with support from works drivers, concluded the season with a strong performance before heading into the winter break.

      • Michael Christensen (Denmark) and his American teammates Daniel Morad and Michael de Quesada scored second place with the 911 GT3 R campaigned by Alegra Motorsports.
      • Jörg Bergmeister (Germany) finished on third with the Americans Patrick Lindsey and Matthew McMurry.

Jörg Bergmeister (911 GT3 R #73): “To conclude such a tough season with a podium always feels great – especially after starting from twelfth on the grid. It was a gruelling race, particularly because we didn’t have a cooling vest or drink bottle. But I enjoy such challenges.”

This season, both squads netted a victory each with the 500+hp customer sport racer: Alegra Motorsports won the 24-hour classic at Daytona, with Park Place Motorsports winning Lime Rock.

GTD class Race results

1. De Phillippi/Mies/van der Linde (USA/D/RSA), Audi R8, 382 laps
2. Morad/Christensen/de Quesada (USA/DK/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 382
3. Bergmeister/Lindsey/McMurry (D/USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 382
5. Braun/Bennett/Jonsson (USA/USA/S), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 380

The post PORSCHE’S RESULTS AND PICTURES IN THE IMSA WEATHERTECH SPORTS CAR CHALLENGE AT Petit Le Mans appeared first on FLATSIXES.

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Difficult qualifying for the 911 RSR at Road Atlanta

Petit Le Mans on the tradition-steeped Road Atlanta racetrack promises to be a fierce finale to the IMSA SportsCar Championship season: In the qualifying session for Saturday’s ten-hour race in the US state of Georgia, the fastest eight in the GTLM class were separated by just five-tenths of a second.

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2016 United SportsCar Championship season review

In 2015, Porsche North America Racing captured all three GTLM class titles in the WeatherTech United SportsCar Championship, the no. 911 Porsche 911 RSR of Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet capturing four victories along the way, including a famous outright triumph at the season-ending Petit Le Mans.

For this year though, new GTLM technical regulations were introduced, leading to newly developed entries from Ferrari (in the shape of its 488 GTE) and the radical Ford GT. Porsche, meanwhile, choosing to focus on creating an all-new racer for 2017, brought along an updated version of its 2015 car.

Despite this, at the 24 Hours of Daytona, the traditional curtain raiser for the American sports car season, the factory Porsche 911 RSRs were able to lock out the front row in qualifying, converting this position into a solid one-two during the first half of the race.

sebring

As the daylight hours returned on Sunday morning, the Porsches’ pace advantage began to wain but still the two cars circulated at the head of the field until, with five hours to go, disaster struck the no. 911 entry of Nick Tandy, Patrick Pilet and Kévin Estre, a driveshaft failing on the high-speed banking.

This left Earl Bamber, Frédéric Makowiecki and Michael Christensen in the no. 912 RSR to fight the two Chevrolet Corvettes but, despite taking the lead after the final round of pitstops, Porsche had to settle for a solid third place at the end of a day’s racing.

The 12 Hours of Sebring brought a similar result for the two factory 911s, the no. 912 car battling through the rain and red flags to secure another third place while the no. 911 retired at half distance when Estre made a failed passing attempt while defending the lead and cannoned into the barriers at turn one.

2016 - Long Beach Grand Prix

After the two longest races on the calendar, round three at Long Beach provided the shortest encounter of the year with just 100 minutes of race action around the Californian street circuit.

Unsurprisingly, it also made for one of the most frenetic races of the year, with the result – Porsche’s first victory of the year only decided in the final few laps when Makowiecki missed his braking point and punted into the back of the no. 4 Corvette.

Spinning the erstwhile leader (and forcing the no. 912 car into retirement), the Frenchman’s mistake allowed teammate Tandy in the no. 911 RSR into a lead the British ace duly converted to victory.

2016 - IMSA - Laguna Seca

Round four at Laguna Seca saw Bamber and Makowiecki take another third place finish for the no. 912 crew however, the Pilet and Tandy’s hopes were dashed early on when one of the Corvettes hit the back of the no. 911 Porsche 911 RSR, knocking the car down the order. The Anglo-French duo would eventually finish ninth.

After four races, Porsche was just three points behind Chevrolet in the manufacturer standings, while Bamber and Makowiecki sat similarly placed in the drivers’ table (albeit 12 points off the top thanks to their Long Beach DNF).

If Weissach was still in with a chance of retaining its titles now, the same couldn’t be said after the conclusion of the next four races: Watkins Glen, Mosport, Lime Rock and Road America (circuits that, in 2015, saw Porsche North America Racing kick-start their championship challenge).

2016 - IMSA - Watkins Glen

Both factory 911 RSRs failed to make the podium through the middle of the season, hamstrung by changes to the Balance of Performance and a general lack of pace compared to the newly developed Fords and Ferraris.

At ‘The Glen’ the two RSRs brought up the tail end of the GTLM pack, improving slightly during the trip north of the border to Mosport. Lime Rock Park – a new addition to the USCC calendar – was similar fruitless before Bamber and Makowiecki managed to salvage a little bit of honour with fourth at Road America.

It wouldn’t be until round nine at Virginia International Raceway that one of the works Porsche 911 RSRs would be back on the podium, Bamber and Makowiecki battling hard in extreme heat to finish third (while Tandy and Pilet came home sixth after an off-track excursion).

2016 IMSA - Circuit of The Americas

With some momentum behind them, Porsche enjoyed its most competitive outing of the year at Circuit of the Americas. The two works 911 RSRs were the class of the field during the Lone Star Le Mans event, taking a much-needed one-two.

Tandy and Pilet in the no. 911 car were originally on course for victory but, with a slim chance of retaining their trio of titles, Porsche choose to swap the two cars’ positions, handing the lead to the no. 912 RSR, a move that gave Bamber his first USCC win.

At Petit Le Mans neither Porsche 911 was ever really in contention though. The no. 911 car again suffered with reliability issues while Bamber and Makowiecki struggled for pace on the way to fifth, a result that saw Porsche finish third in the final manufacturers’ standings.

For more of the latest Porsche 911 race new and reports, check out our dedicated motorsport section now.

2016 IMSA - Petit Le Mans

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2016 WeatherTech USCC: Petit Le Mans race report

After four seasons of competition, the Porsche 911 RSR bowed out of factory action this weekend, with the US works squad, Porsche North America Racing unable to give the 991-generation racer a successful send-off at the season closing Petit Le Mans.

The final round of the 2016 WeatherTech United SportsCar Championship saw the IMSA circus once again arrive at Road Atlanta near Braselton, Georgia for a ten-hour spectacular into the night.

One year on from a sensational overall triumph at Petit Le Mans, the factory Porsche 911 RSRs were unable to repeat their 2015 success as the no. 912 machine of Earl Bamber, Frédéric Makowiecki and Michael Christensen came home fifth after the sister no. 911 RSR was knocked out of podium contention.

2016 IMSA - Petit Le Mans

The four free practice sessions at Road Atlanta suggested it would be a difficult final weekend for the factory Porsche 911 RSRs as both cars struggled in the bottom half of the GTLM time sheets, unable to match the pace-setting Ferrari 488 GTB and the championship-leading Corvette C7.Rs.

Qualifying only compounded Porsche’s woes, the no. 912 entry setting the eighth fastest time while the no. 912 machine could only bring up the rear of the class in tenth, 0.7 seconds away from the pole-sitting Ford GT in a tight session where the top four were separated by under two tenths of a second.

As has become common this season, the two Porsche 911 RSRs showed better in the race, working their way into fifth and sixth by the end of the third hour, the no. 912 entry (an outside bet for retaining Porsche’s trio of IMSA titles) ahead of the no. 911 RSR.

porsche-911-rsr-plm-2016

In the fourth hour, the no. 912 Porsche 911 RSR was delayed by a 60-second penalty for the crew working on the car in a closed pitlane however, by the fifth hour, slick pitwork and strategy for the no. 911 had moved Richard Lietz into third, just a few seconds behind the leading Ferrari and Corvette.

An extended safety car period to repair the track at Turn Three kept last year’s GTLM champions in the podium places when disaster struck in the sixth hour. Exiting the pits, Nick Tandy (back at the wheel) was nerfed into the barriers by a prototype, the no. 911 entry suffering heavy rear end damage.

The sister car’s demise elevated the no. 912 Porsche 911 RSR into sixth as the crew fought back from their earlier penalty. However, combined with the 911’s lack of pace, Bamber, Makowiecki and Christensen would only be able to rise as high as fifth as the no. 4 Corvette C7.R finished third to secure all three USCC titles.

2016 IMSA - Petit Le Mans

Behind the pit wall though, the Porsche North America Racing squad was working frantically to repair the no. 911, loathe to let one of the 991 RSRs finish its last factory race on the sidelines.

After an incredible effort repairing the suspension, replacing the rear windscreen and fitting new bodywork (among a litany of other jobs), Tandy was able to fire up the no. 911 entry once darkness had enveloped Road Atlanta, the Briton completing the final few laps of the race and taking the chequered flag.

“It is simply part of the sporting spirit to repair the car,” explained Porsche’s Head of GT Motorsport, Marco Ujhasi. “The season was not easy for us but we’ll be back next year with our new car to take up the challenge.”

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

2016 IMSA - Petit Le Mans

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2016 WeatherTech USCC: Petit Le Mans preview

It seems only moments ago that the 2016 United SportsCar Championship was kicking off at the 24 Hours of Daytona however, this weekend, the year’s action reaches its climax at Petit Le Mans.

The traditional finale to the US sports car season, the ten-hour race around the Road Atlanta circuit in Braselton, Georgia marks the final race for the current generation Porsche 911 RSR in the hands of the factory squad, Porsche North America Racing.

From next season, the Type 991 RSR will be replaced in the USCC’s GTLM class by a new 911-shaped racer (expected to the feature a turbocharged flat six engine and a mid-engined drivetrain layout).

2016-petit-le-mans-porsche-pits

Since its introduction to international GT competition in 2013, the 991 RSR has been one of Porsche’s most successful racing cars ever, wracking up 21 wins, including ten triumphs in the WeatherTech USCC.

Perhaps the most extraordinary of those victories came last year at Petit Le Mans where Patrick Pilet, Nick Tandy and Richard Lietz guided the no. 911 Porsche 911 RSR to the top step of the overall podium as atrocious conditions saw the ten-hour spectacular shortened to just eight hours of racing.

Aided by their superior Michelin tyres, the no. 911 RSR was consistently faster than the prototype machinery on the sodden Road Atlanta tarmac, Tandy taking the lead out on track before the red flags brought proceedings to a premature end.

2015 - United SportsCar Championship - Petit Le Mans

The win ensured that Porsche not only defended its 2014 USCC manufacturers’ title but it also secured the drivers’ and teams’ titles for Pilet and the no. 911 crew respectively. 2016, however, has not been as successful for the factory Porsche squad with a single win for the no. 911 and no. 912 cars apiece.

Despite this, the latter – with Earl Bamber and Frédéric Makowiecki (joined by Michael Christensen for Petit Le Mans) – still has an outside chance of retaining the titles Porsche fought so hard to secure last season.

In the drivers’ and teams’ standings, Bamber and Makowiecki sit 28 points behind the leading no. 4 Corvette crew, with a total of 36 points to play for around the 2.54-mile Road Atlanta track this weekend.

2016-porsche-cota

In the North American Endurance Cup (contested across the Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Petit Le Mans rounds), Porsche’s chance of success is even greater though, sitting just a single point from the top of the table in the drivers’ and teams’ categories, and tied with Chevrolet for manufacturers’ honours.

Porsche North America Racing heads into this weekend’s season climax hot off of its second win of the season at COTA where its two Porsche 911 RSRs were the class of the GTLM field across the race distance.

Combined with the ever-present threat of unpredictable weather and Porsche’s previous form at Road Atlanta, more success could well be on the cards. GTLM qualifying gets underway today at 3:55pm EDT with the ten-hour race green-flagged away at 11:10am tomorrow morning.

To keep up to date with all the latest Porsche race news and reports, make sure you check out our dedicated motorsport section now.

2016-porsche-plm-practice

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