IMSA: Porsche still on track to success in heavy rain

When the season opening round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was halted around 7am due to torrential rain and restarted after 1.45 hours for one lap, the two Porsche 911 RSR were lying in positions three and five. In the GTD category, the new Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by the Black Swan Racing customer team is within striking distance of first place. 

Polesetter Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and his French teammates Patrick Pilet and Frédéric Makowiecki have been part of the leading group in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR since the start on Saturday afternoon (local time). Their works driver colleagues Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) as well as Porsche Young Professional Mathieu Jaminet (France) have made a remarkable comeback after the No. 912 car came into the pits with a defective front splitter mounting. Thanks to a perfect strategy and a flawless drive, the four-lap gap could be closed within just four hours.

The race resumed despite difficult conditions

As the race went on, neither the heavy rain nor a scheduled stop to change the brakes could throw the two Porsche 911 RSR in the legendary Brumos design out of the top group of contenders. After around 17 hours of racing, the 24 Hours of Daytona was red-flagged due to persistent rain. Despite the difficult conditions, the race resumed. In an attempt to avoid getting caught up in the subsequent mass collision, the Porsche 911 RSR with the starting number 912 lost three positions. With five hours remaining, the two factory cars are currently lying in positions three (#912) and five (#911).

At its first race, the new Porsche 911 GT3 R is underlining its great potential impressively. Works driver Dirk Werner (Germany), Porsche Young Professional Matteo Cairoli (Italy) as well as the teammates Marco Seefried (Germany) and Tim Pappas (USA) are currently on course for a podium finish with the vehicle of the Black Swan Racing customer squad. The vehicle run by Park Place Motorsports was at times in the lead, but fell back due to a number of incidents. An accident has put an end to the Pfaff Motorsports team’s first outing in the GTD class. The Porsche 911 GT3 R of NGT Motorsport retired early after suffering a technical defect. 

Frédéric Makowiecki (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “We’ve been amongst the frontrunners since the start of the race, and we even led the field over long stretches. The heavy rain now changes everything. The cards will be completely reshuffled – it’s a great pity. On the other hand, there was no alternative other than to halt the race. Huge amounts of water are lying on the track. Under such conditions it is absolutely impossible to race. I’m curious to see how the race will continue over the next hours. The weather forecast looks anything but good.”

Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “We’ve managed to make up the time we lost at the start thanks to a first-class strategy and our excellent pace. Since then we’re back in the top group with a chance to win. It started to rain early this morning. The wet and dark have created unbelievable conditions. I’ve experienced a lot in my career, but my stint in the rain at night here is definitely one of the three worst drives that I’ve ever experienced in my life. No grip, no visibility – it was all about keeping the car on the racetrack.”

Matteo Cairoli (Porsche 911 GT3 R #540): “I can’t imagine that the race will be restarted, because the meteorologists are predicting even heavier rain for the rest of the day. I like to race and I like the racetrack, but I wouldn’t be too unhappy if the race was red-flagged completely. After several ups and downs, we’re on course for a podium result, and of course we’d like to keep it that way. It would be the first Daytona trophy for me after three attempts.”

The Porsche GT Team holds a promising position at the Daytona 24-hour race. After the first four hours of racing, the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR has taken over the lead of the notoriously competitive GTLM class. The sister car with the starting number 912 has taken up an impressive chase after being hampered by technical problems early on in the race. The new Porsche 911 GT3 R is also running amongst the front pack at the opening round of the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Nick Tandy had taken up the long-distance race in Florida from pole position in the Porsche 911 RSR. The UK racer defended his top spot at the start and continued at the front for long stretches during his two stints before handing the car off to his teammate Patrick Pilet (France) after 100 minutes. For tactical reasons, the Porsche GT Team put in an additional pit stop. This relegated the No. 911 car to third place briefly before reclaiming the lead. Frédéric Makowiecki is leading the field in the dark.

The driver trio sharing the No. 912 car experienced some bad luck at the beginning of the race. After an intense start phase and two exceptional overtaking manoeuvres, Earl Bamber (New Zealand) had to pull into the pits twice to repair a defect on the front splitter mounting. As a result, the vehicle lost four laps to the leader. With a smart strategy and blistering lap times, the gap was halved within two hours. While running in sixth place after four hours, Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) has now handed the car off to Porsche Young Professional Mathieu Jaminet (France).

In the GTD category, the new No. 73 Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by the Park Place Motorsports customer team holds a promising position. Factory driver Patrick Long (USA), who shares the sports car from Weissach with his compatriots Patrick Lindsey and Nicholas Boulle as well as Porsche Young Professional Matt Campbell (Australia), ranks fourth after four hours. The identical cars run by Pfaff Motorsports and Black Swan Racing are currently fighting their way back up the order after early setbacks. The 911 GT3 R of NGT Motorsport has retired early.

911 RSR, IMSA, Daytona, 2019, Porsche AG

Pascal Zurlinden (Director GT Factory Motorsport):  “Everything is running as planned with the number 911 car. Refuel, change the tyres and the driver – that’s it. So we’re well positioned in the race. Unfortunately, the sister car suffered a setback shortly after the start. But we’re not giving up and we’re pulling out all stops. We’ve managed to slash the gap considerably. If everything goes smoothly, we should be able to get further ahead. And everything’s possible for the No. 912 car, as well.”

Porsche will take up the 24 Hours of Daytona from pole position. At the wheel of the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR, works driver Nick Tandy set the fastest lap time in the 15-minute qualifying session. Scoring a time of 1:42.257 minutes, the British racer was clearly ahead of his toughest rivals in the GTLM class. Earl Bamber (New Zealand) planted the sister car with the starting number 912 on the fifth grid spot. The two Porsche 911 RSR tackle round one of the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season in the livery of the legendary Brumos Racing team. 

In the hunt for top times, the Porsche GT Team chose a perfect strategy. The experienced factory squad sent the sports cars from Weissach out on the track precisely at the right time. Tandy (Great Britain) benefited from the slipstream of other vehicles and got the best out of the 911 RSR’s high potential. With his hottest lap, the UK driver set a new qualifying record for the GTLM class at Daytona (USA). Posting six top times in the GTLM class, Tandy is the best qualifying driver in the history of the IMSA SportsCar Championship. The fifth grid spot for the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR rounds off a successful qualifying session for Porsche.

Nick Tandy, Frederic Makowiecki, Patrick Pilet, l-r, IMSA, Daytona, 2019, Porsche AG

Porsche GT Team: Nick Tandy, Frederic Makowiecki, Patrick Pilet (l-r)

In the GTD class, Lars Kern (Weissach) secured a top-ten grid position at the debut of the new 500 hp Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by the Canadian team, Pfaff Motorsports. With the number 9 vehicle, the Porsche development driver turned the eighth quickest lap in the 15-minute session. The identical No. 73 sports car run by Park Place Motorsports takes up the 24-hour race from position ten, with the customer squad vehicles from Black Swan Racing (#540) and NGT Motorsport (#99) occupying grids positions 13 and 17 respectively. 

Pascal Zurlinden (Director GT Factory Motorsport): “The first qualifying of the year and immediately on pole position: you can’t wish for a better start than that. We have to give a little credit to the competition for the nice slipstreaming, but it became clear that we were right up there at the decisive moment. That was the first step, now comes the race. Our goal is clear: We want to defend our position with the pole-setting car and ensure that the sister car makes up a few places.”

Nick Tandy (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “Our aim was to look for a decent slipstream, and that worked perfectly. On the long straights at Daytona this can really help and gives you a lot of time, especially if you catch the slipstream from two cars – as in our case. Sometimes this tactic doesn’t work, but today we were in luck. While pole position is fantastic, it doesn’t mean as much at a 24-hour race as it does at other events. Still, it’s important to start such a weekend with a great result.”

Earl Bamber (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “The qualifying was okay. Congratulations to Nick, Patrick and Fred on claiming pole in the number 911 car. Everything ran perfectly for them, but not so much for us. It’s obvious that we need to do a bit more work on optimising the car before the race. But certainly anything is possible.”

Lars Kern (Porsche 911 GT3 R #9): “A little more would have been possible. I got stuck behind another car, which gave me a good tow with the slipstream on the straights, but held me up significantly in the corners. That cost a bit of time. But all in all I’m very pleased with the setup and handling of our Porsche 911 GT3 R. The car feels good and that gives me confidence for the long race.”

GTLM class

1. Pilet/Tandy/Makowiecki (Porsche #911), 1:42.257 minutes

2. Magnussen/Garcia/Rockenfeller (Corvette #3), + 0.326 seconds

3. Briscoe/Westbrook/Dixon (Ford #67), + 0.377 seconds

4. Rigon/Molina/Pier Guidi/Calado (Ferrari #62), + 0.455 seconds

5. Bamber/Vanthoor/Jaminet (Porsche #912), + 0.539 seconds

6. Hand/Müller/Bourdais (Ford #66), + 0.633 seconds

7. Krohn/Edwards/Mostert/Zanardi (BMW #24), + 0.696 seconds

8. Farfus/De Philippi/Eng/Herta (BMW #25), + 0.729 seconds

9. Gavin/Milner/Fässler (Corvette #4), + 0.982 seconds

GTD class

1. Longo/Franzoni/Gomes/Bertolini (Ferrari #13), 1:45.257 minutes

2. Keating/Bleekemolen/Stolz/Fraga (Mercedes #33), + 0.067 seconds

3. Farnbacher/Hindman/Marks/Allmendinger (Acura #86), + 0.139 seconds

8. Kern/Olsen/Robichon/Hargrove (Porsche #9), + 0.688 seconds

10. Long/Campbell/Lindsey/Boulle (Porsche #73), + 0.846 seconds

13. Werner/Cairoli/Seefried/Pappas (Porsche #99), + 0.974 seconds

17. Müller/Bachler/Renauer/Häring/Görig (Porsche #540), + 1.412 seconds

Porsche will tackle the 24 Hours of Daytona on 26/27 January fielding a pair of 911 RSR. As the most successful brand in the history of this venerable race, the sports car manufacturer from Weissach now aims to write another chapter in the success story at the season opener of this year’s IMSA SportsCar Championship.

The two 911 RSR will be run by factory squads in the hotly contested GTLM class. The new Porsche 911 GT3 R celebrates its race debut. In the GTD category, four customer squads will each field one of the latest generation GT3 racers.

The Porsche GT Team sends its two 911 RSR to contest this year’s 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring sporting a legendary design: The sports cars from Weissach will fly the colours of the successful Brumos team at the two longest races of the season. The squad from Jacksonville (USA) was active in the North American motor racing scene for over five decades. Claiming four overall victories at the Daytona endurance classic makes Brumos one of the most successful teams in the history of the race.

The 24-hour race on the Daytona International Speedway is contested on a 5.73-kilometre-long combination of the tri-oval and a tight and twisty infield section. The storied event in Florida has been held every year since 1966. The endurance classic marks the start of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season and counts towards the North American Endurance Cup (NAEC). 

For the start of the 2019 motor racing year in North America, regular drivers Patrick Pilet (France) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain) share the No. 911 car, and like last year will be supported by Frédéric Makowiecki (France). In 2018, the trio won the long-distance races at Sebring and Road Atlanta. Earl Bamber (New Zealand), Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and Mathieu Jaminet from France share the cockpit of the No. 912 sister car campaigned by the Porsche GT Team. Works driver Patrick Long (USA) takes the wheel of the 911 GT3 R with the starting number 73 with his compatriots Nicholas Boulle and Patrick Lindsey as well as Porsche Young Professional Matt Campbell (Australia). In the identical No. 9 car sit Porsche development driver Lars Kern (Germany), Young Professional Dennis Olsen (Norway) and the two Canadians Scott Hargrove and Zacharie Robichon. The No. 99 Porsche 911 GT3 R is manned by works driver Sven Müller (Germany) and Klaus Bachler (Austria) as well as the Germans Steffen Görig, Alfred Renauer and Jürgen Häring. Sharing driving duties in the No. 540 vehicle are works driver Dirk Werner (Germany), Young Professional Matteo Cairoli (Italy), Marco Seefried (Germany) and Timothy Pappas from America.

In the long history of the 24 Hours of Daytona spanning more than 50 years, no other manufacturer has enjoyed as much success as Porsche. 18 overall victories, four more as engine partner, and a record-setting 77 class wins remain unrivalled. Five outright victories in the years 1973, 1975, 1977, 1979 and 1991 and a class win in 1972 make US racing legend Hurley Haywood the most successful Porsche driver at Daytona.

For its third race season, the Porsche 911 RSR has undergone further optimisation primarily in the setup. Depending on the size of the restrictor, the engine, which is positioned in front of the rear axle, puts out around 375 kW (510 hp). The large rear diffuser combined with a top-mounted rear wing provides aerodynamic efficiency and significant downforce. The 911 GT3 R was newly developed for the 2019 season. Improvements in the areas of aerodynamics and kinematics were systematically implemented from the insights garnered from the many race outings of its predecessor. The six-cylinder engine in the rear of the GT3 customer racer produces over 368 kW (500 hp).

The race gets underway on Saturday, 26 January, at 14:35 hrs local time (20:35 hrs CET). The race can be watched live outside the USA and Canada at

The IMSA SportsCar Championship is a sports car race series that has been contested in the USA and Canada since 2014. The series originated from the merger of the American Le Mans Series and the Grand-Am Series. Sports prototypes and sports cars start in four different classes: GTLM (GT Le Mans), GTD (GT Daytona), Dpi (Daytona Prototype international) and LMP2 (Le Mans Prototype 2). The Porsche 911 RSR runs in the GTLM class, and the Porsche 911 GT3 R contests the GTD class.