Porsche’s highs and lows at the Sebring 12 Hours
The Porsche 963 narrowly missed out on securing its first triumph in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship due to an accident. In the bid for overall victory, Mathieu Jaminet in the No. 6 car and Felipe Nasr in the No. 7 sister car collided with an Acura and retired just 18 minutes before the end of the 12-hour race. The two drivers of the Porsche Penske Motorsport works team escaped unharmed.
The No. 6 Porsche 963 fielded by the Porsche Penske Motorsport works team takes on the second round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship from position four on the grid. Frenchman Mathieu Jaminet turned a lap time of 1:46,426 minutes in qualifying for the 12 Hours of Sebring. His teammate Matt Campbell, however, had bad luck: In his No. 7 car, the Australian slid into the tyre wall in Turn 1, bringing his hunt for top times in Florida to an abrupt halt. Klaus Bachler experienced the same fate in the No. 7 Porsche 911 GT3 R of Pfaff Motorsports in the qualifying sessions of both GTD classes.
Mathieu Jaminet’s lap time in qualifying for the new top GTP class was significantly faster than all other laps achieved by the Porsche 963 in the practice sessions. With temperatures hovering around 20 degrees Celsius and bright sunshine, Campbell was determined to tap the full potential of the new hybrid prototype. However, early in the sixth lap, the rear of the Australian’s car hit the barriers on the inside of Turn 1. At the exit of the fast left-hander, his Porsche 963 slid off the track and into the tyre wall. Since Campbell was responsible for the red-flagging of the qualifying, his two fastest lap times were voided. The No. 7 car will tackle the race from seventh on the GTP grid.
“Matt’s fine and that’s by far the main thing,” says Urs Kuratle. The Director of Factory Motorsport LMDh adds: “Now we need to see how badly damaged the rear of the car is. We’ll only be able to assess this when the vehicle is brought back to the garage. It’s a shame. The drivers are fighting hard with our car here, as we’ve clearly seen in this case. The gap to our rivals was about the same as in yesterday’s FIA WEC qualifying, although the track was a bit faster this morning. I hope we can join the frontrunners in the race.”
Best Porsche 911 GT3 R tackles the GTD class from position five
The qualifying sessions for both GTD classes had to be red-flagged after Klaus Bachler’s accident. The Austrian also lost control of Pfaff Motorsports’ No. 9 car in Turn 1 and crashed into the tyre barrier. Bachler was unhurt in the accident. His Canadian team starts the race from P7 in the GTD-Pro class. In the GTD category, Jan Heylen was the fastest Porsche driver. The Belgian planted the No. 16 entry from Wright Motorsports on grid position four. The other customer cars fielded by Kelly-Moss with Riley, AO Racing and Wright Motorsports head into the second round of the season from further down the field.
The “Super Sebring” weekend continues on Friday, 17 March, with the 1,000-mile race of the FIA World Endurance Championship WEC. At the season opener, Porsche Penske Motorsport campaigns two Porsche 963, with six 911 RSR fielded by five customer teams. The race kicks off at noon local time (5 pm CET). The 12-hour race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship begins on Saturday, 18 March, at 10:10 am local time (3:10 pm CET).
- Derani/Sims/Aitken (BR/UK/UK), Cadillac #31, 1:45.836 minutes
- Bourdais/van der Zande/Dixon (F/NL/NZ), Cadillac #01, 1:45.923 minutes
- Taylor/Albuquerque/Deletraz (USA/P/CH), Acura #10, 1:46.100 minutes
- Tandy/Jaminet/Cameron (UK/F/USA), Porsche 963 #6, 1:46.426 minutes
- Campbell/Nasr/Christensen (AUS/BR/DK), Porsche 963 #7, 1:46.851 minutes
- Garcia/Taylor/Milner (E/USA/USA), Corvette #3, 1:59.315 minutes
- Hawksworth/Barnicoat/Kirkwood (UK/UK/USA), Lexus #14, 1:59.582 minutes
- Juncadella/Gounon/Engel (E/F/D), Mercedes-AMG #79, 1:59.635 minutes
- Bachler/Pilet/Vanthoor (A/F/B), Porsche 911 GT3 R #9, no lap time
- Marcelli/Formal/Harrison (CDN/CR/USA), Acura #93, 1:59.714 minutes
- Ellis/Ward/Dontje (D/USA/NL), Mercedes-AMG #57, 1:59.834 minutes
- Montecalvo/Telitz/Thompson (USA/USA/CDN), Lexus #12, 1:59.944 minutes
- Hardwick/Heylen/Robichon (USA/B/CDN), Porsche 911 GT3 R #16, 2:00.022 minutes
- Metni/van Berlo/Evans (USA/NL/NZ), Porsche 911 GT3 R #91, 2:01.927 minutes
- Brynjolfsson/Hindman/Root (USA/USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R #77, 2:02.612 minutes
- Hyett/Jeannette/Priaulx (USA/USA/UK), Porsche 911 GT3 R #80, 2:02.678 minutes
- Brule/Udell/Andlauer (USA/USA/F), Porsche 911 GT3 R #92, 2:04.555 minutes
The hybrid prototype shared by Frenchman Jaminet and his teammates Nick Tandy from the UK and Dane Cameron from the USA came third. In the GTD-Pro class, the Pfaff Motorsports customer squad notched up the first class victory for the new Porsche 911 GT3 R.
The 71st edition of the endurance classic in Florida (USA) was packed with thrills and spills. Despite numerous setbacks due to collisions, penalties and minor technical woes, the two Porsche 963 fielded by Porsche Penske Motorsport were running with the frontrunners in the decisive phase. After the twelfth and final full course yellow, the race was given the green light for the final 30-minute sprint to the flag. The two new hybrid prototypes from Weissach were locked in battle with the No. 10 Acura when Jaminet and his rival Filipe Albuquerque (Portugal) collided. Both cars slid out of control onto the grass area. Felipe Nasr was unable to avoid the resulting chaos and, through no fault of his own, hit his brand colleague’s Porsche 963. All drivers escaped the accident uninjured.
“First and foremost, I’m relieved that all drivers walked away unscathed. We were so close to claiming our maiden win with the Porsche 963 and our Porsche Penske Motorsport factory squad,” concludes Thomas Laudenbach. The Vice President of Porsche Motorsport explains: “We underlined today that we’re capable of scoring overall victories in the IMSA series. A Sebring win would have been a great reward for the hard work of the entire team, our partners and our development squad in Weissach. We want to make up for this as quickly as possible. Despite the gripping and tense competition in Florida, we mustn’t forget one thing: we have homework to do – on the vehicle’s performance and on the operational side of the team. Congratulations to Pfaff Motorsports on winning the GTD-Pro class!”
“I’d like to pay our team a huge compliment. The car covered the long distance with virtually no technical hiccups,” said Urs Kuratle, Director Factory Motorsport LMDh. “Like in yesterday’s FIA WEC race, we had zero defects in the spec components. Thanks to our relevant suppliers. I’d also like to thank our chassis partner Multimatic. Today, we showed that we can achieve anything with our new Porsche 963 in the IMSA series. We have a good platform with great potential. We’re feeling confident about the future because we now know that we can win through our own efforts.”
The race in the GTD-Pro category was no less exciting than the battle for overall victory at Sebring. Right up until the last safety car phase, the lead changed every half hour. With a flawless team effort, a perfect strategy and strong performances by the drivers, Pfaff Motorsports achieved their first victory with the new Porsche 911 GT3 R. The team’s two seasoned drivers Klaus Bachler from Austria and Patrick Pilet from France were supported in the 12-hour race by Belgian works driver Laurens Vanthoor, who had been behind the wheel of the Porsche 963 in the FIA WEC the day prior. The defending champions from Canada secured a class victory after twelve hours with a 2.7-second lead.
In the GTD class, in which professionals share the cockpit with ambitious amateurs, the new GT3 customer team Kelly-Moss with Riley put on an impressive show. Frenchman Julien Andlauer claimed third place in a thrilling finale and celebrated alongside his teammates David Brule and Alec Udell (both USA). The sister car and the two 911 GT3 R cars from Wright Motorsports finished sixth, seventh and eighth. The bright green “Rexy” nine-eleven fielded by AO Racing finished the race 16th in its class.
- Derani/Sims/Aitken (BR/UK/UK), Cadillac #31, 322 laps
- Yelloly/De Philippi/Derani (UK/USA/BR), BMW M Hybrid V8 #25, 322 laps
- Tandy/Jaminet/Cameron (UK/F/USA), Porsche 963 #6, 315 laps
- Campbell/Nasr/Christensen (AUS/BR/DK), Porsche 963 #7, 315 laps
- Bachler/Pilet/Vanthoor (A/F/B), Porsche 911 GT3 R #9, 303 laps
- Hawksworth/Barnicoat/Kirkwood (UK/UK/USA), Lexus #14, 303 laps
- Juncadella/Gounon/Engel (E/F/D), Mercedes-AMG #79, 303 laps
- Sellers/Snow/Lewis (USA/USA/USA), BMW M4 GT3 #1, 301 laps
- Gallagher/Foley/Dinan (USA/USA/USA), BMW M4 GT3 #96, 301 laps
- Brule/Udell/Andlauer (USA/USA/F), Porsche 911 GT3 R #92, 301 laps
- Hardwick/Heylen/Robichon (USA/B/CDN), Porsche 911 GT3 R #16, 301 laps
- Metni/van Berlo/Evans (USA/NL/NZ), Porsche 911 GT3 R #91, 301 laps
- Brynjolfsson/Hindman/Root (USA/USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R #77, 301 laps
- Hyett/Jeannette/Priaulx (USA/USA/UK), Porsche 911 GT3 R #80, 285 laps