The Porsche GT Team has claimed its third straight win at round four of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The works drivers Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) went up against strong opposition in the GTLM class at Lexington and celebrated their second victory after Long Beach (USA).
Last year, the pair in the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR won the race on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Patrick Pilet (France) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain) rounded off the strong team result with third place in the ca. 510 hp 911. Thanks to these results, Porsche has succeeded in extending its lead all classifications of the IMSA championship.
“The day was perfect for us,” commented Bamber. “It’s incredible that our run in Mid-Ohio continued seamlessly. We’re leading the championship, but that doesn’t mean we’re leaning back. The competition will certainly not make it easy for us. Before the next IMSA race we first have to tackle Le Mans in mid-June. Hopefully everything will continue to go just as brilliantly there for us, too.”
In contrast to the free practice and qualifying, the race in the U.S. state of Ohio took place in sunny, dry conditions. The Porsche GT Team implemented its experience with the vehicle and tyres perfectly and setup both Porsche 911 RSR for the changed weather conditions. As the race progressed, the drivers were able to demonstrate their strengths over the long distance.
Vanthoor, who took up the fourth race of the season from the second grid spot, handed his 911 off to Bamber after around 50 minutes while running in second place. Thanks to the consistently high speed and perfect strategy, the New Zealander swept into the lead shortly afterwards. The No. 912 car held on to the lead to the flag.
However, the race for their works driver colleagues in the No. 911 vehicle turned into a rollercoaster ride. When the race went green, Pilet made a jump start. Although the ensuing drive-through penalty relegated the vehicle far down the grid, a spirited charge through the field followed. Tandy came out on top after an intense duel with a BMW shortly before the flag and brought the No. 911 over the line in third place. For the first time in North America this season, both Porsche 911 RSR racers finished on the podium.
In the GTD category, the factory driver Patrick Long (USA) and his German teammate Marco Seefried concluded the race in fourth place at the wheel of the No. 73 Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by the customer squad Park Place Motorsports. The team opted for an optimal strategy with a late pit stop during the only safety car phase of the race. With his wealth of experience, the American Long used his fresh tyres to overtake many rivals. Bad luck plagued the customer team Pfaff Motorsports. Putting in a strong stint, Zacharie Robichon (Canada) was on course to score second place in the 500+hp GT3 car from Weissach. His teammate Scott Hargrove defended this podium placing over long stretches, however, with only five minutes left to the flag, the strong performance ended in the gravel at the first corner. The number 9 vehicle was ultimately classified in twelfth place.
In the manufacturers’ classification, the Porsche GT Team now ranks first after four rounds with 135 points and a 15-point advantage. The factory pilots Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor sit at the top of the points in the drivers’ classification, with their team colleagues, Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy, on third.
The two Porsche 911 RSR contesting the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will be transported to Europe at the end of May. On 15/16 June, the vehicles will, like last year, join the factory cars from the FIA World Endurance Championship to tackle the 24 Hours of Le Mans (France). Both vehicles will be back in North America by 30 June in time for the six-hour race in Watkins Glen (USA).
- Bamber/Vanthoor (NZ/B), Porsche 911 RSR, 116 laps
- Pilet/Tandy (F/GB), Porsche 911 RSR, 116 laps
- Magnussen/Garcia (DK/E), Corvette C7.R, 116 laps
- Heistand/Hawksworth (USA/GB), Lexus RC F GT3, 114 laps
- Farnbacher/Hindman (D/USA), Acura NSX GT3, 114 laps
- Sellers/Hardwick (USA/USA), Lamborghini Huracan GT3, 113 laps
- Long/Seefried (USA/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 113 laps
- Hargrove/Robichon (CAN/CAN), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 107 laps