Through the giddy elevations of California’s iconic Laguna Seca Raceway, our 911 RSRs once again juggled the jubilation and frustration of GT racing at the highest level. Car no. 911, driven by Dirk Werner and a flying Patrick Pilet, took third place and the fifth podium of the season, crossing the line just five seconds behind the winning BMW M6.
Laurens Vanthoor and Gianmaria Bruni in the sister car had a tougher run around the 3km circuit and its infamous Corkscrew. Hampered by traffic and a drive through penalty for a non-compliant pit stop, they were forced to settle for seventh in class.
Both cars showed promise and real confidence at the lights, Vanthoor jumping three places and Pilet two. It was the Frenchman who really consolidated this aggressive start however, gaining two more positions in quick succession to put the no.911 car in second spot. Teammate Werner was obliged to run a careful fuel-saving strategy when he took over, but nevertheless was at times challenging for the lead with a single second separating the 911 and winning BMW in the closing stages. With moments to spare, Giancarlo Fisichella’s Ferrari 458 managed to sneak between them, but the battle for podium places could not have been closer or more exciting for both drivers and fans.
After the race, Pilet reflected on another demanding but rewarding outing for the RSR in its maiden season: “That was really close. In the end it was a pure game of chance with the fuel. We assumed that the leading BMW would have to pit, but he kept going. Dirk saved as much fuel as he could, but he couldn’t keep up with the Ferrari, which was following a different strategy. We did the best we could with what we had today, and, as always, we’ve enjoyed wonderful support from our team.”
Meanwhile in the GTD class, Porsche factory driver Jörg Bergmeister pushed his Park Place Motorsports GT3 through a closely contested field in the final hour to earn an impressive and unexpected third place.
The IMSA now heads to Atlanta on October 7, where the 10-hour ‘Petit Le Mans’ will round out a tough but telling season for Porsche Motorsport’s 2017 US GT campaign.