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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.

2015 Tudor USCC: Virginia International Raceway race report

Porsche North America Racing is officially on a roll. Round eight of the 2015 Tudor United SportsCar Championship at Virginia International Raceway saw the US factory team takes its third consecutive victory of the year, strengthening Weissach’s grip on the manufacturers’ title.

As at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Road America, it was the no. 911 Porsche 911 RSR, driven by Patrick Pilet and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, Nick Tandy that led the way, romping home to 27-second victory over the sister no. 912 RSR of Earl Bamber and Jörg Bergmeister.

Weissach’s domination of proceedings at VIR began in qualifying where the two works Porsche 911 RSRs were perfectly set up for a track that, due to high ambient temperatures, was much slower than the earlier practice sessions.

Pilet (left) and Tandy (centre) have been using their newly developed Michelin tyres to good effect recently in the United SportsCar Championship.

Tandy quickly jumped to the head of the timing screens, proceeding to better his times with almost every lap before plateauing with a 1m42.532s, good enough for his third GTLM pole position (the first man in USCC history to do so).

Bergmeister was never far behind in the no. 912 car though and would eventually qualify second, less than a tenth of a second away to secure Porsche’s first front row lockout of the season.

Sunday’s two-hour, 40-minute race kicked off with Tandy once more asserting his authority, stretching out an advantage over the chasing pack during his opening stint before handing over Patrick Pilet at the first tyre stops.

After escaping early on, there was no stopping the no. 911 Porsche 911 RSR of Tandy and Pilet.

Behind, Bergmeister’s run was made more complicated thanks to the attentions of Pierre Kaffer in the no. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 458 Italia. Contact between the pair on lap one saw the Porsche drop to third before Bergmeister moved back into second at Oak Tree turn.

However, Kaffer wasn’t finished, demoting Bergmeister once again to third, a position where Bergmeister would stay until handing over to Bamber at the first round of tyre stops.

While Pilet maintained the no. 911 machine’s advantage out front, Bamber was forced to rally having dropped to fifth behind the early-stopping BMW Z4s. Trading fastest laps with Pilet, the Kiwi racer carved through the GTLM field to take second just before his final tyre change.

In a race without any caution periods, slick pit work was a necessity. As ever, Porsche North America Racing excelled.

After the out of sequence BMWs pitted again, the two Porsches (with Tandy back at the wheel of the no. 911 RSR) led the field, although Bamber was some 30 seconds back from his Le Mans teammate.

Tandy, managing fuel and tyres perfectly was able to comfortably take the chequered flag, giving the Porsche 911 RSR its first outright victory (the race at VIR being contested only by the GTLM and GTD teams).

Behind though, Bamber was forced to save fuel in the final laps, allowing the no. 62 Ferrari to close back in. Some traffic on the penultimate lap saw the gap drop from four seconds to just two, before a slow final lap for Bamber allowed the Ferrari right onto his rear wing through the final two turns.

Earl Bamber and Jörg Bergmeister had to settle for their third second-place finish of 2015 at Virginia International Raceway.

Bamber held on though, taking second place by just 0.575 seconds to secure Porsche North America Racing’s second consecutive one-two finish in the United SportsCar Championship.

Not only does the result strengthen Porsche’s position atop the manufacturers’ table but, thanks to the no. 3 Corvette’s sixth place finish, it also vaults Pilet and the no. 911 crew to the top of the driver and team standings, with a five point advantage in both.

Just two rounds now remain in the 2015 season, with the USCC circus next heading to Austin, Texas for another two-hour, 40-minute event at COTA (alongside the FIA WEC race) on 17-19 September.

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

While PNAR made hay in the Virginia sunshine, it was another tough weekend for the Team Falken Porsche 911 RSR. Bryan Sellers and Wolf Henzler finished seventh.

2015 Tudor USCC: Virginia International Raceway preview

Porsche North America Racing is on something of a roll in the United SportsCar Championship heading into GTLM class’ eighth race of 2015 at Virginia International Raceway (VIR).

The last two rounds (at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Road America respectively) have seen Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet in the no. 911 Porsche 911 RSR take victory, vaulting Weissach to the head of the manufacturers’ title race.

Victory at Elkhart Lake last time out was particular impressive for the Anglo-French works duo after they were forced to start from the back of the grid (behind the slower GTD field) due to a post-qualifying engine change.

Patrick Pilet (left) and Nick Tandy's (right) recent successes have pushed Porsche into a three-way title fight in all three categories.

Both Pilet and Total 911 columnist, Tandy have been enjoying a rich vein of form since their return aided by Balance of Performance changes that have turned the 2015 Porsche 911 RSR into a competitive proposition.

Having taken maximum points in the last two rounds, Pilet and the no. 911 crew are just five points away from the top of the table in the drivers’ and teams’ standings respectively.

The other side of the Porsche North America Racing garage has not been without its successes either though as Earl Bamber gave the no. 912 car pole position at Road America before, alongside regular teammate Jörg Bergmeister, taking second place last time out.

The no. 912 RSR of Earl Bamber and Jörg Bergmeister has come close in 2015 and is now overdue a victory.

At 3.27 miles, the Virginia International Raceway, like CTMP and Road America, is a technical, flowing track that proves popular with the drivers and should provide plenty of action during Sunday’s two-hour, 40-minute race.

Last year, PNAR struggled at VIR (with reliability stopping Tandy challenging for victory). However, with no BoP changes despite the recent successes, the works Porsche 911 RSRs should prove more competitive in 2015.

GTLM qualifying takes place at 5:05pm on Saturday before the 160-minute main event kicks off at 1:05pm local time on Sunday. Look out for our usual comprehensive race report on Monday morning.

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

Can Porsche keep their advantage at the flowing Virginia International Raceway?

Tudor USCC: Virginia International Raceway race report

Porsche leaves the latest round of the 2014 Tudor United SportsCar Championship – the Oak Tree Grand Prix, held at Virginia International Raceway – at the head of the manufacturers’ standings. However, it was far from a straightforward weekend for the German manufacturer.

The drama started in Saturday morning’s final practice session where Richard Lietz (driving the no. 911 Porsche 911 RSR he shares with Porsche North America Racing teammate, Nick Tandy) was fired into the barriers as part of a multi-car accident.

Moments later, he was joined by Jan Magnussen in the no. 3 Corvette C7.R who heavily impacted with the driver’s side of Lietz’s Porsche. The collision required a hospital visit for the Austrian where he was diagnosed with a fractured upper arm.

Richard Lietz (centre) was in good spirits a day after breaking his arm.

With Lietz ruled out of the meeting, Michael Christensen was drafted in to double up in both the no. 911 and his regular no. 912 entries however, the Porsche North America Racing mechanics were in a race against time to get the a spare chassis readied for Sunday’s race.

While Tandy and no. 911 RSR was forced to miss qualifying, Brian Sellers qualified the Team Falken Porsche 911 RSR in seventh, with Christensen achieving eighth in the no. 912 machine. Tandy would have to start at the rear of the GT-only field, leaving him with around 25 cars between the Briton and the head of the field.

As Sunday’s race got underway, Tandy was adjudged to have jumped the rolling start requiring a trip to the pits to serve a penalty. After that, the Total 911 columnist ran off track while pushing hard to make up the lost time.

Contact early on ruined any hopes Patrick Long or Michael Christensen had for the no. 912 Porsche 911 RSR.

Despite the grassy excursion, Tandy’s speed was paying off. The Porsches have looked increasingly competitive since Indianapolis and the RSR’s new found speed was put to good use as Tandy gradually moved into the thick of the lead battle in second.

Unfortunately, after handing over to Christensen (the Dane scheduled to take the chequered flag) the no. 911 car ground to a halt with a terminal engine problem just 19 minutes before the end of the race.

The car’s recovery necessitated a full course caution that played into the hands of the Team Falken Porsche 911 RSR. After a solid opening stint by Sellers, the team had switched to an alternative fuel strategy in the hope of a final caution period

.

Nick Tandy worked miracles after a jump-start penalty and an off-track excursion but mechanical problems would eventually rule him and Christensen out.

With Wolf Henzler now at the wheel, there was now no need for fuel conservation, as the Teal-and-blue RSR leapt into the lead, albeit with the Risi Competizione Ferrari 458 of Giancarlo Fisichella bearing down hard.

It looked as if the Falken squad were to taste victory for the first time in 2014 but, on the final lap, Fisichella swept by to snatch the win as Henzler crossed the line just 0.492 seconds in arrears.

The no. 912 Porsche North America Racing entry would eventually be classified eighth in GTLM after contact with the no. 4 Corvette during Patrick Long’s opening stint left the car with a puncture and suspension damage that the team could never truly recover from.

While the tough weekend for PNAR saw Porsche’s factory squad loose ground in the drivers’ and teams’ standings, Falken’s admirable performance, saw Porsche move to the head of a tight manfucturers’ battle ahead of the final two rounds.

A first podium of 2014 for Brian Sellers (left) and Wolf Henzler (right) showed Team Falken is improving.

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