Victory for Porsche at Petit Le Mans
The GT team ends its dry spell in IMSA with a nail-biting win
The Porsche GT Team has achieved its first class win in this year’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at ‘Petit Le Mans’. Works drivers Nick Tandy, Frédéric Makowiecki and Matt Campbell won the ten-hour race at Road Atlanta by just 1.779 seconds.
Numerous safety car phases meant the frontrunners in the GTLM class never lost sight of each other over the entire race distance, lapping the 4.1km circuit a few seconds apart and swapping the lead through pit-stop cycles. The drama began for Porsche shortly before the halfway mark, when Matt Campbell span the No. 911 RSR following some light contact. But the young Australian was able to continue, having only sustained minor damage.
Meanwhile the No. 912 sister car was on a charge, with Laurens Vanthoor turning the fastest lap in the GTLM class only for teammate Mathieu Jaminet to be handed a drive-through penalty for a minor collision with a GTD backmarker. The 30-second delay put their car out of action, leaving the No. 911 with the task of keeping Porsche in contention.
Lap after lap, Makowiecki kept the RSR in touch, and when the leading BMW had to make an unscheduled pit stop half an hour before the end of the race, the experienced Frenchman grabbed his chance and swept into the lead.
Both RSR cars were in the points with minutes left on the clock until another collision, this time involving the No. 912 car, triggered one last full course yellow. Although Vanthoor managed to bring the car over the finish line, he had lost two laps and was forced to make do with fifth in class. The race did not restart and ended behind the safety car.
Petit Le Mans played out in a similar fashion in the GTD class, with no team able to pull clear of the field. After ten hours, the seven fastest vehicles were all within one lap of each other, and the Wright Motorsports 911 GT3 R driven by Patrick Long, Ryan Hardwick and Jan Heylen finished fourth with the Pfaff Motorsports entry of Lars Kern, Dennis Olsen and Zacharie Robichon right behind them in fifth.
Steffen Höllwarth, Head of Operations IMSA Championship, was in jubilant mood after the race: “The monkey’s finally off our back. Those were some tough and intense ten hours with ups and downs. We had to deal with some minor setbacks, but we didn’t let it ruffle our feathers and were in the right place at the right time in the end. I’m thrilled for the boys. Unfortunately, in the fight for GTLM victory, the No. 912 car was involved in an accident while lapping a GTD vehicle, otherwise we could have brought home an even better result. Still, a huge compliment to the whole team. Today we benefited from the necessary racing luck several times, which has evaded us in the past. We’re happy with this victory and we’re looking forward to the last two races of the season.”
The next and penultimate round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will be held on November 1 at Laguna Seca in California. After nine of 11 races, Porsche ranks third in the GTLM manufacturers’ championship.