IMSA: Lackluster weekend for Porsche at Mosport, Canada
No podium for Penske Porsche Motorsports puts title hopes in jeopardy
Lack of speed in Qualifying
Works driver Felipe Nasr has qualified in fifth for round six of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. In the hunt for top times in Mosport, Canada, the Brazilian was the fastest driver at the wheel of a Porsche 963. The sister car fielded by the Porsche Penske Motorsport factory team will tackle the race over 2:40 hours from ninth position. The hybrid prototype campaigned by JDC-Miller MotorSports turned the eighth fastest time in qualifying. In the two GT classes, the five Porsche 911 GT3 R cars fielded by four customer teams lagged behind, in some cases considerably.
The conditions for the qualifying of round six of the 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season were perfect. With a pleasant air temperature of 23 degrees Celsius, the sun warmed the asphalt to around 30 degrees Celsius. Accordingly, the nine cars in the top GTP started category went out on the track early to hunt for top times. Felipe Nasr spent three laps warming the tires on his No. 7 car to get them into the optimum operating window. Then the Brazilian went full throttle for ten laps. Posting a time of 1:06.521 minutes, Nasr qualified fifth, almost nine-tenths of a second off pole position.
Mathieu Jaminet did everything he could over eleven laps in the No. 6 car however, the Frenchman never came close to the times of the sister car. With a gap of 1.676 seconds to the top, he only managed ninth place. “We couldn’t do anything about the two Acuras today, but we had an outside chance for third place with the No. 7,” said Jonathan Diuguid. The Managing Director Porsche Penske Motorsport adds: “The balance of the sister car was completely off in qualifying. Mathieu had no tire grip at all on the front axle. We’ll take a good look at that. Right now though, we’ll put this disappointing day behind us and concentrate fully on the race.”
Mike Rockenfeller tackled the qualifying in the Porsche 963 fielded by the customer team JDC-Miller MotorSports. The seasoned specialist from Germany gradually improved over the 13 laps and netted eighth on the grid with a time of 1:06.946 minutes. For the race, Rockenfeller shares the cockpit of the No. 5 car with Dutchman Tijmen van der Helm.
GTD classes: Porsche’s customer teams among backmarkers
In the two GT categories, the four customer teams were far off achieving top results with their five Porsche 911 GT3 R. Klaus Bachler turned the fifth fastest time in Pfaff Motorsports’ 911. The Austrian shares the No. 9 car at the home race of the Canadian team Pfaff Motorsports with Patrick Pilet from France. The identical GT3 cars run by AO Racing, Wright Motorsports and Kellymoss with Riley head into the race from positions ten, eleven, twelve and 14 respectively.
Hyett/Priaulx (USA/UK), Porsche 911 GT3 R #80, 1:16.983 minutes
Brynjolfsson/Hindman (USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R #77, 1:17.028 minutes
Metni/van Berlo (USA/NL), Porsche 911 GT3 R #91, 1:17.126 minutes
Brule/Udell (USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R #92, 1:20.469 minutes
Their works driver colleagues Felipe Nasr from Brazil and Matt Campbell from Australia were at times on course for a podium result but ultimately had to settle for sixth place. The customer car fielded by JDC-Miller MotorSports was the best-placed Porsche 963 in fourth place. In the GTD-Pro class, Pfaff Motorsports’ Porsche 911 GT3 R finished on the podium.
In cloudy conditions and air temperatures of around 24 degrees Celsius, Felipe Nasr and Mathieu Jaminet launched a major pursuit in the initial phase, with the Frenchman attempting some particularly impressive overtaking moves. Within just 30 minutes, the No. 6 Porsche 963 had worked its way up the order from ninth to fifth position and loomed large in the rear-view mirror of the sister car. A clever strategy during several caution periods subsequently saw the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsport car advance to second place. The final pit stop during the third of the four full course yellow phases resulted in three rival cars overtaking. Afterwards, no further progress was possible in the final 30-minute dash – especially as the last four laps were again spent behind the safety car following an incident.
In the overall standings, Tandy and Jaminet rank fourth place after round six of the season, with the driver duo Nasr and Campbell in sixth position. Porsche currently lies fourth in the manufacturers’ championship.
The customer team JDC-Miller MotorSports delivered an impeccable performance on race day in Mosport. The season specialist from Germany Mike Rockenfeller drove a strong first stint at the wheel of the No. 5 Porsche 963 and handed the bright yellow prototype off to his teammate Tijmen van der Helm in eighth place. Implementing a strategic gamble in the penultimate safety car phase, the Dutchman advanced to fourth and successfully fended off all attacks from the Porsche Penske Motorsport cars.
GTD classes: Perfect strategy puts Pfaff Motorsports on the podium
In the GTD-Pro class, the Pfaff Motorsports customer squad gave an impressive performance at its home race thanks to an optimal strategy and strong drives by drivers Klaus Bachler and Patrick Pilet. The Austrian’s first stint at the wheel of the No. 9 Porsche 911 GT3 R was considerably longer than the rest of the field, which laid the foundation for success. His French teammate, famed for his incomparable fuel-efficient driving style, then brought second place safely home for the team.
The three customer teams in the GTD class were less lucky. After mediocre qualifying performances on Saturday, things barely improved on race day. The four Porsche 911 GT3 R cars fielded by Wright Motorsports, AO Racing and Kellymoss with Riley finished the race in positions seven, eight, nine and twelve respectively.
Official Race results
Blomqvist/Braun (UK/USA), Acura #60, 120 laps
Taylor/Albuquerque (USA/P), Acura #10, 120 laps
De Phillippi/Yelloly (USA/UK), BMW #25, 120 laps
Rockenfeller/van der Helm (D/NL), Porsche 963 #5, 120 laps
Tandy/Jaminet (UK/F), Porsche 963 #6, 120 laps
Campbell/Nasr (AUS/BR), Porsche 963 #7, 120 laps
Garcia/Taylor (E/USA), Corvette #3, 111 laps
Bachler/Pilet (A/F), Porsche 911 GT3 R #9, 111 laps
Juncadella/Gounon (E/F), Mercedes-AMG #79, 111 laps
Sellers/Snow (USA/USA), BMW #1, 111 laps
Schandorff/Iribe (DK/USA), McLaren #70, 111 laps
Skeen/Grenier (USA/CDN), Mercedes-AMG #32, 111 laps
Brynjolfsson/Hindman (USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R #77, 110 laps
Hyett/Priaulx (USA/UK), Porsche 911 GT3 R #80, 110 laps
Metni/van Berlo (USA/NL), Porsche 911 GT3 R #91, 110 laps
Brule/Udell (USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R #92, 103 laps
Round seven of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will be contested on 22 July at Lime Rock Park. Only the two GT classes contest the so-called Northeast Grand Prix. The next outing for the Porsche 963 in North America is on the first weekend in August at Road America.