Porsche on the podium in Sebring
Points, prangs and punctures for our works 911 RSRs
Round three of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship arrived in the swamps of Sebring last weekend. In another foreshortened 2hr 40minute sprint race, Laurens Vanthoor and Earl Bamber started from fourth in GTLM aboard the No. 912 911 RSR. The defending champions once again asserted their authority early, with Vanthoor leaping into the lead within half a lap and defending the position until the first pit stop.
But disaster struck when the RSRs collided during the stop as Nick Tandy took evasive action in the No. 911 sister car to avoid the rival Corvettes. Vanthoor lost his front apron in the incident, requiring two further stops for repairs and receiving a drive-through penalty.
Thanks to a perfect strategy, however, alongside some daring overtaking manoeuvres and the fastest stints in their class, Bamber and Vanthoor managed to battle back through the field to finish in an unlikely third position. But Tandy and teammate Frédéric Makowiecki, who had also lost a whole lap due to a puncture, had to make do with sixth.
“It was a tough day and it shouldn’t have been,” said Bamber after the race. “Our two cars were very strong, but unfortunately, the pit incident cost us a lot of time. Laurens drove very strong stints and our strategy was optimal. That’s how we managed to mitigate the damages as much as possible. Today’s race could have thrown a spanner in the works in terms of the championship, but thanks to this podium result, we’re still looking good. We’ll now take this positive aspect to the next round at Road Atlanta.”
In the GTD pro-am class, meanwhile, the Wright Motorsports entry was also hampered by an incident. Ryan Hardwick’s 911 GT3 R made contact with the barriers, and the subsequent repairs meant that teammate and Porsche works driver Patrick Long could not improve on ninth place.
The 911 GT3 R fielded by Wright Motorsports crossed the finish line in ninth place
Nevertheless, the podium position in GTLM keeps Porsche very much in the running, moving into second in the manufacturer’s classification, just four points off the lead. Bamber and Vanthoor now rank second in the drivers’ classification too, with Makowiecki and Tandy in fourth.
“It’s a disappointing result,” said Steffen Höllwarth, Head of Operations IMSA Championship. “Our race pace was very good, but unfortunately, several things went awry in the pit lane incident. In such situations, it’s about tenths of seconds and positions. While pulling out of the pits, three vehicles made contact, and unfortunately two of them were ours. It was our fault. We’ll analyse it and make sure it doesn’t happen again. But ultimately, at least one car finished on the podium. These points were very important for the championship.”
Round four of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will be held at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin on 2 August.