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Porsche Fell Just Short Of The Podium At The Bathurst 12 Hour

In a highly competitive 12 hour race marred by attrition, Porsche teams managed to put two cars on the lead lap at the finish, and come within inches of the podium. Having started on the pole position, Porsche was among the favorites to win the race, but with competition from all of the major GT3 manufacturers in the world it was bound to be a tight one. In the end, it was Bentley which performed best with a distinct straight line advantage and a great race strategy. With a stacked team of Porsche factory-backed drivers, a whole slew of GT3 Rs took the green flag on Sunday at Mount Panorama. Porsche managed fourth, seventh, ninth, tenth, and eleventh, also netting the Pro-Am class victory. Here’s how it all shook out.

The #1 car fielded by Earl Bamber Motorsports lead the field to the green flag, but the lead was gone by the first corner as a couple other drivers got a better start. That car remained competitive through about the half-distance mark, but was completely counted out by a braking issue that forced the team to change brakes during green flag conditions. By comparison the winning Bentley also needed to change brakes, but it managed to do the job during a long caution flag period.

From that point on it was the #911 and #912 of Absolute Racing which were carrying the flag for Stuttgart. Over those long stretches of green flag running, the Porsche ran consistently at the front. The #911 cut a tire at lap 117 which pushed it back a lap and it had to spend the rest of the race trying to make up that lost time. At the end of the race Matt Campbell was able to close the gap to third down to just 1.5 seconds at the flag. By comparison, the winning Bentley also had a tire go flat, but theirs happened about 500 meters from the entrance to pit lane, and cost the team almost no time in changing. Luck strikes both ways.

The second vehicle run by Absolute Racing with the starting number 912 took the flag in seventh. Porsche works driver Laurens Vanthoor crossed the finish line two positions behind them (still two laps down) in the Earl Bamber Motorsports car shared with the team owner, and Australian touring car legend Craig Lowndes.

Porsche’s bad luck in the pro-class was reversed into good luck in pro-am. The Grove Racing team took the first place position at the close of the race, tenth overall. A perfect strategy and managing to keep their car out of trouble put the team of Stephen Grove, Brenton Grove, and Ben Barker into contention. Bad luck on the part of the previously class-leading McLaren secured their win. Porsche also managed second in class for the pro-am category with the Earl Bamber Motorsports-entered NED Racing Team Porsche of Romain Dumas, Jaxon Evans, and David-Calvert-Jones.

Comments on the race
Fritz Enzinger (Vice President Porsche Motorsport and Group Motorsport Volkswagen AG): “Grove Racing’s victory in the Pro-Am class is really great. All five of our Porsche 911 GT3 R finished in the top eleven. After claiming pole position, we thought we could possibly win. But the field was very evenly matched. As the group representative for Volkswagen Motorsport, I’m of course delighted with Bentley’s win.”

Pascal Zurlinden (Director Factory Motorsport): “It wasn’t a great race in the pro-category. We had problems with the tyres and brakes. But the drivers and teams fought their way through and made the best of the situation. As such, everyone can go home with their heads held high. For our long-standing customer team Grove Racing, I’m absolutely thrilled about their huge success in the Pro-Am class.”

Sebastian Golz (Project Manager Porsche 911 GT3 R): “We have five cars in the top eleven, a class win and a second place in the Pro-Am category. All in all, that result doesn’t sound too bad, but we just didn’t quite pull it all together against the competition today. Because of the punctures, brake problems and penalties we couldn’t make the most of the potential that was available to us.”

Mathieu Jaminet (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911): “All things considered, it was a tough race for us. We had two punctures that threw us back. We lost a lap but we battled hard to get back up into the action. Towards the end we hoped for the predicted rain, but unfortunately it arrived only after the chequered flag came out.”

Earl Bamber (Porsche 911 GT3 R #1): “We had a good car with an ideal setup, but unfortunately there was a problem with the brake pads in the middle of the race. We had to pit and that cost us two laps. We couldn’t recover from that. Afterwards we had one of the fastest cars, which showed our potential, but after our win here last year we had simply expected more.”

Dirk Werner (Porsche 911 GT3 R #912): “Starting in the night at Bathurst is something special. However, starting from twelfth on the grid surrounded by so many vehicles makes it difficult to gain any positions at the start. We managed to work our way up the field and were in the top group for the last two hours. At the end we hoped for rain, perhaps then we might have achieved an even better result.”

Stephen Grove (Porsche 911 GT3 R #4): “First place in the Pro-Am class is fantastic. Ben’s first stint was very important because it put us in a good position. We then fought our way through the field bit by bit. The secret here is that you have to be able to read the traffic on the track correctly. We tried to stay out of trouble and are grateful for a perfect car.”

Jaxon Evans (Porsche 911 GT3 R #12): “We started from a little further down the grid than we’d originally planned. The name of the game early on was to get through the dark hours of the race without any damage. After that we were able to manoeuvre ourselves further up the order. I’m really pleased with second place and eleventh overall in the Pro-Am class for the NED Racing Team.”

Race result
1. Gounon/Soulet/Pepper (F/B/ZA), Bentley Continental GT3, 314 laps
2. Parente/Barnicoat/Blomqvist (P/GB/GB), McLaren 720S GT3, 314 laps
3. Van Gisbergen/Whincup/Götz (NZ/AUS/D), Mercedes AMG GT3, 314 laps
4. Jaminet/Pilet/Campbell (F/F/AUS), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 314 laps
7. Werner/Preining/Cairoli (D/A/I), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 314 laps
9. Bamber/Vanthoor/Lowndes (NZ/B/AUS), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 312 laps
10. S. Grove/B. Grove/Barker (AUS/AUS/GB), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 312 laps
11. Calvert-Jones/Dumas/Evans (USA/F/NZ), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 311 laps


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How Do Porsche’s Sim Racers Differ From Its Real World Racers?

Porsche has invested heavily in esports racing, and has developed a crew of high-level sim racers. These virtual drivers are often as talented at piloting a virtual car as Porsche’s factory team is at piloting the real thing in meatspace. They both have training regimens, strict diets, and the rigors of endurance racing. Obviously the simulator racer can’t experience the same g-forces as a driver in the real world, and they aren’t actually burning real gasoline or rubber, but the sentiment is the same. Here are the to five ways Porsche sees these two disciplines as similar.

  1. Training Routines

Both the esports racer and the real world racer have to be physically and mentally fit. This includes hydration and a good diet for the race weekend. Keeping yourself awake during an endurance race is extremely important.

2. Track & Racecraft

While esports racers can’t walk the track, they can certainly take a few slow laps to look for braking points and experience changes in kerbing and asphalt. Both drivers prepare for a race by turning a lot of laps. It’s just practice, practice, practice. Both racers are looking for an advantage in lap time.

3. Race Strategy

The difference between endurance race strategy and sprint race strategy carry over to both forms of racing. For a longer race, starting the race more conservatively so you aren’t involved in an accident is quite important, as is metering your fuel and tire useage. If you can stretch your pit stops as long as possible, you may gain a serious advantage over the competition. In a sprint race, you’ll be looking for every possible tenth of a second you can gain, obviously.

4. Car Setup

Believe it or not, racing games have gotten good enough that racers can set up their cars with things like tire pressure, shock settings, and aerodynamic downforce balance.

5. Teams

In real world endurance racing a race weekend requires hundreds of mechanics and setup specialists, but in e-sports this can all be done by the driver. However, in esports a single team can field a half dozen cars at no additional cost or limitation of team functionality, so they need to work together when possible, but compete against each other when the chips are down. It’s all very similar.

Obviously there aren’t any tire failures or engine explosions in esports which might completely scupper your race weekend, but otherwise the experience required between the two different forms of racing is pretty similar. Are you running in simulated racing yet? Maybe this will change your mind.


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Porsche Is Bringing The Heat To The Bathurst 12 Hour Race

It seems like the motorsport season just ended a few weeks ago, and we’re already diving into the deep end of the pool with an incredible International GT3 round in Australia with the 12 Hours of Bathurst in a couple weeks time. As the entry list started to come out, it became quite clear that Porsche is 100% dedicated to the effort, bringing in the big guns to try to secure another Bathurst title for the brand. There are a total of five quasi-factory-supported GT3 R examples running up and down the hill, with three entered in the A-Pro class, and two additional entered in the A-Pro-Am category. Check out this list!

Porsche GT3 R Pro Class #1 – Earl Bamber Motorsport: Earl Bamber / Laurens Vanthoor / Craig Lowndes

The reigning Bathurst 12 winners are back for another go-round. This year EBM has updated its entry list with a man who knows the Mount Panorama circuit quite well, Craig Lowndes. Lowndes is an incredible pilot in the Australian Supercars series, and has won here before. Teamed with Porsche aces Earl Bamber and Laurens  Vanthoor (together the pair are known as #Bamthor) this is going to be a car that will seriously contend for the overall. If they can keep their nose clean.

Porsche GT3 R Pro Class #911 – Absolute Racing:  Matt Campbell / Mathieu Jaminet / Patrick Pilet

The Absolute Racing team has found success with Porsche, as the team ran up onto the podium at the 10 hours of Suzuka last season. With this group of drivers it should absolute-ly be dicing toward the front.

Porsche GT3 R Pro Class #912 – Absolute Racing: Dirk Werner / Thomas Preining / Matteo Cairoli

And if the first Absolute car can’t get the job, they have another bullet in the chamber ready to tear toward the race victory. Another all-Porsche pro lineup gives me an indication of how serious Porsche is taking this race. It has grown to become one of the best in the world to watch in recent years.

Porsche GT3 R Pro-Am Class #4 – Grove Racing:  Stephen Grove / Brenton Grove / Ben Barker

Grove Racing has won the Class B trophy at Bathurst four different times, and this year the team have stepped up to the Pro-Am GT3 category with support from Herberth Motorsport to take a shot at the overall win. With the best equipment and a trio of drivers who definitely know this track well, I wouldn’t count them out.

Porsche GT3 R Pro-Am Class #12 – NED Racing Team: David Calvert-Jones / Romain Dumas / Jaxon Evans

The Earl Bamber Motorsports team has a second entry for the Bathurst race this year with naming rights going to Australian whiskey company NED. Calvert-Jones is no slouch in a Porsche at the circuit. Romain Dumas is an endurance and sprint racing champion, and should serve quite well in this GT3 R. Jaxon Evans is a rising star in the world of sports cars, and has proven himself quite well at this race in the past. Keep an eye on this one, it’s in with a shot.

I’m seriously looking forward to the Bathurst 12. Porsche will be going head-to-head with entries from Audi, Bentley, Nissan, Ferrari, Honda, BMW, McLaren, Aston Martin, Lamborghini, and Mercedes AMG. The driver lineup reads like a who’s who of international tin-top GT drivers. Get ready, get set, GO!


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This Rally-Spec 996 GT3 is a Handful and a Half

With interesting headlight covers in place, the front of this 996 could be mistaken for its successor.

Ruben Zeltner may have more modern rally cars in his stable, but his white 996 GT3, kindly nicknamed « Zebra, » still makes regular appearances at German hillclimbs and rally events. At this year’s ADAC Rallye Köln-Ahrweiler, an 87-mile-long rally outside of Cologne, the two-time Germany rally champion brought his trusty 996 to cover the fourteen stages. With Hellmar Hellenberg calling course notes, the pair won the event with a time of 1:16.50.4; besting four-wheel drive Audi Quattros and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions in the process. With all the talent on display, it’s not hard to see how.

He grabs the car by the scruff of its neck and uses the pendulum effect to help it rotate through quick switchbacks. Then, with a tug of the hydraulic handbrake, he pitches the car into hairpins (1:34) and fires out of them with minimal oversteer. Zeltner « bends » this frantic and agile 996 around treacherous spots of country road in the measured sort of way which would impress Walter Rohrl.

Zeltner deftly manages the weight hanging over the GT3’s rear axle to pivot it through technical switchbacks without much steering effort.

In the faster sections, Zeltner needs to manage a lot of oversteer, but the stellar traction always keeps it moving forward. Note how it dances nicely over the dirtier stretch of road (1:59) with a little shimmy after the gearchange. Even though the GT3’s rear is not completely planted, that rear grip is a very reassuring thing to have when traveling at these speeds with no runoff anywhere in sight.

Combine that impressive traction with a punchy Mezger’s 400 horsepower, sent through closely stacked gears of a sequential gearbox, and the GT3 accelerates like turbocharged four wheel-drives—albeit with a lot more style and slip angle.


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Porsche Nets Intercontinental GT Challenge Titles With Kyalami 9 Hours Victory

This story is just Porsche all the way through. Not only did Porsche contest and win the manufacturer’s and drivers’ championship titles for GT cars in 2019, but it also purchased and helped revive the famous South African Kyalami race track, battlegrounds on which the final round of the championship was fought. After 9 solid hours of racing, it was the Frikadelli Racing car of Nick Tandy, Dennis Olsen, and Mathieu Jaminet—all Porsche factory racers—which came out on top. When the chips were down, this team of drivers put their collective backs into it and absolutely dominated the final hours of the race. Dennis Olsen was crowned the Driver’s champion, winning this season ender as well as the season-opening Bathurst round.

Kyalami has not held an international long-distance race since 1982. A few years ago Porsche invested in the community and the motorsport environment of Africa by buying the ailing track and giving it a proper revamp. This circuit once held Formula One grands prix, but has been a largely regional affair for decades.

Nick Tandy in the Frikadelli Racing car set the pace for the race, netting a pole position and a new track record for GT3s in the process.

Factory-supported efforts from Frikadelli, GPX Racing, KUS Bernhard, and Dinamic Motorsport all fought for the lead at one point or another in the race, and in fact the Frikadelli car made contact with Romain Dumas in the Bernhard car while it was leading, spinning the both of them and earning a drive-through penalty in the process. That very same Frikadelli car came through the field to get back in the fight with a couple hours remaining in the race, setting fast lap after fast lap to do it. It was a late race downpour which really threw a wrench in the mix. When the torrential rains came with about 2 hours to go in the race, the leading Porsche teams pushed onward to find wet race pace until the track became flooded and the safety car came out.

When the race went back to green flag conditions the rain was still coming down, the sun had set, and there were only 25 minutes of racing to go. Frikadelli had put Nick Tandy back in the car to close out the race, saving their rain racing ringer for the end. Nick did what Nick does, re-starting the race from fourth in line, he was up into the lead within 5 minutes, first passing a BMW which had pitted late for fuel, then getting by the Mercedes of Yelmer Buurman, which had lead into the re-start. Then it was Porsche-on-Porsche as Tandy fought with Richard Lietz for the late race lead. Before the end of the race Lietz and the rest of the GPX Racing team would be passed by Tandy and a BMW behind, settling for third at the checkers.

Porsche had four vehicles in the top ten at the finish, which is an incredible feat, considering stiff competition from BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Nissan, Aston Martin, Bentley, and Ferrari.

Porsche also won the Silver category with a Pro-Am GT3 R entered by Lechner Racing. The team of Porsche driver Lars Kern, Saul Hack of South Africa, and Dylan Pereira of Luxembourg finished 14th overall and first in class.

Porsche had a great season this year, winning the Bathurst 12 Hour, the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, and this race, the 9 Hours of Kyalami. Porsche teams also grabbed podium places at the California 8 Hour (Laguna Seca) and the Suzuka 10 Hours. That was plenty to get the Stuttgart sports car maker an international GT3-class Manufacturer’s Championship. Good on ’em.

Comments on the race
Sebastian Golz (Project Manager 911 GT3 R): “Three wins from five races, and podium finishes at all rounds – that’s how you win championships. The key to our success was the excellent teamwork of our squads around the world. The final race at Kyalami with sun, heat, lightning, thunder and rain was like a rollercoaster ride. In the end we deserved to win. Now it’s time to celebrate.”

Nick Tandy (Porsche 911 GT3 R #31): “The Porsche 911 GT3 R was the strongest vehicle in the cutthroat competition of the GT3 manufacturers. We were the fastest in dry conditions, and in the rain the nine-eleven set the benchmark. I’m pleased that the race went green again so that we could demonstrate the strength of our rear-engine car. Halfway through the race we had to cope with a couple of minor setbacks, but thanks to perfect teamwork we were ultimately able to take the lead. I’m particularly thrilled about Dennis’s title win. I know how much this means to him.”

Dennis Olsen (Porsche 911 GT3 R #31): “This is definitely the best day of my career by now. When I was asked recently to name my greatest achievement, I said it was the victory at Bathurst. When I was then asked what could be better than that, I said a victory at Kyalami, winning the manufacturers’ title with Porsche as well as the drivers’ championship. That has now happened – unbelievable, it feels like a dream. When the race was finally restarted, I had a good feeling. If you have someone like Nick Tandy in the Porsche 911 GT3 R on a wet track in the final sprint, then anything is possible.”

Richard Lietz (Porsche 911 GT3 R #20): “Another successful outing for Kévin, Michael and me in GPX Racing’s car. We were strong over the entire weekend, and we led for most of the race. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to bring home first place in the rain. But most importantly, Porsche has won the manufacturers’ title – mission accomplished.”

Matt Campbell (Porsche 911 GT3 R #12): “It was a disappointing weekend for us in the number 12 car. We tried everything, but never really matched the pace of the strongest Porsche 911 GT3 R. I don’t know why this happened, but at the end of the day it’s fantastic that the manufacturers’ title went to Porsche and Dennis took the drivers’ crown.”

Dirk Werner (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911): “That was a difficult weekend. It all started with the delayed arrival of the container with our car and all the equipment. In the race, the engine temperature was always at the upper limit. We had to take care and we couldn’t go all-out. For this reason we couldn’t do better. Congratulations to Dennis and the entire Porsche squad. These championship titles are well deserved.”

Lars Kern (Porsche 911 GT3 R #9): “The 90 minutes in torrential rain behind the safety car were the most difficult 90 minutes of my racing career. It was more like swimming than driving. Despite losing a little time during the pit stops at the beginning, we still ended up as the deserving class winners. We made the least amount of mistakes and so our first place was rightly earned.”

Race result
01. Olsen/Jaminet/Tandy (N/F/GB), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 259 laps
02. Catsburg/Krognes/Jensen (NL/N/DK), BMW M6 GT3, 259 laps
03. Lietz/Christensen/Estre (A/DK/F), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 259 laps
08. Vanthoor/Bamber/Campbell (B/NZ/AUS), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 259 laps
09. Dumas/Müller/Werner (F/D/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 259 laps
13. Hack/Kern/Pereira (ZA/D/LUX), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 257 laps
28. Bezuidenhout/Scribante/Scribante (ZA/ZA/ZA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 85 laps


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