With the second round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship less than a month away, Porsche teams were at Sebring International Raceway as part of the official series test on February 23-24. The Porsche GT Team, the official works program in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class, brought one of the two Porsche 911 RSRs entered into the 65th Running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring scheduled for March 18. CORE autosport, Park Place Motorsports and Alegra Motorsports brought Porsche 911 GT3 Rs to test for the GT Daytona (GTD) class.
The new Porsche 911 RSR was second quickest at the conclusion of the two-day GTLM test. As has been the case the last two seasons, the “all factory-supported class” cars were all within one second of one another on the iconic 3.74-mile race course.
CORE autosport was quickest in the GTD class with its No. 58 911 GT3 R. Alegra Motorsports, the class winner at the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona in January, led the class in the first day of testing. Park Place Motorsports used the test largely to shakedown their car after a heavy accident at Daytona.
A Walk In the Park. Porsche IMSA GTD Customers Test 911 GT3 R at Sebring.
Porsche factory driver Jörg Bergmeister (Germany) and 2016 Porsche Young Driver Academy graduate Matt McMurry (Phoenix, Arizona) accompanied Park Place Motorsports to Sebring International Raceway for the official IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship test February 23-24.
Bergmeister and McMurry were put to work under the hot Florida sun where track temperatures hovered past the 90-degree (Fahrenheit) mark. Park Place Lead Engineer John Horton and Crew Chief Gary Biel had the No. 73 Porsche 911 GT3 R setup tuned in for the 3.74-mile, 17-turn course.
The team had to rebuild the car back to working order for the Sebring test after another racecar collided with the No. 73 in the opening hours of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Bergmeister thought the car setup was near perfection from the start of the test but blamed the heat for the greasy feel of the track, which led to less grip as morning turned to afternoon.
Jörg Bergmeister, Driver, No. 73 Park Place Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“The car was great right away. We weren’t chasing it too much; maybe we had to a little as the day went on. Temperatures were pretty high so I think everyone struggled a bit finding grip on track. We tried a few interesting things with the chassis so we are learning a lot while we’re here. We’re still working on making everything better so we can be ready to go on race weekend. It’s really impressive what the Park Place team as done with such little time. The team has put a great car together in just a few weeks.”
GAINing On It. GAINSCO Tests Porsche “Red Dragon” In Advance of PWC Season.
Less than 90 days ago, GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing announced their intention to compete for the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge Sprint Championship with new equipment, the Porsche 911 GT3 R. Since that announcement, the Dallas-based team has completed four successful tests, totaling over 1500 miles with the new “Red Dragon™”.
Upon the announcement of the switch to the Porsche 911 GT3 R, the GAINSCO team, led by veteran team manager Terry Wilbert, temporarily relocated to the beautiful new Porsche Motorsports North America (PMNA) headquarters at the Porsche Experience Center in Carson, California where they prepared the new car. Nineteen days later the team traveled to Willow Springs International Raceway where they completed a successful shakedown.
Veteran Porsche driver Wolf Henzler (Germany) joined the GAINSCO team at the two-day test in New Orleans earlier this month. His experience gave valuable direction as GAINSCO Engineer John Ward and driver Jon Fogarty (Bend, Oregon) familiarized themselves with the car.
The team’s most recent and final test before next month’s season opener at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg came at Sebring. The combination of testing locations allowed the GAINSCO team to log miles on a variety of track configurations and surface characteristics.
The 2017 Pirelli World Challenge Sprint Championship opens with a double-header on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, March 9-12th. The CBS Sports broadcast of the season opener will air in a 90-minute telecast on Saturday, March 18th, while the remaining GT Sprint events will air live on CBS Sports.
Terry Wilbert, team manager GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing.
“We’re really appreciative of the professionalism and warm welcome Porsche has extended to us. Nick Lester and the Porsche Motorsports team opened their doors for us, literally, as we relocated to their headquarters to build the new car in December. The transition has been quite seamless and we are looking forward to a competitive effort starting at St. Petersburg.”
Jon Fogarty, driver, No. 99 GAINSCO Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“It was great to work with Wolf and study his approach and driving lines with this car. He’s got as much experience as anyone driving these cars. His tips and pointers were very helpful, so it was a great opportunity for us.”
“I’m really pleased with our winter test program. The information we learned at Sebring is typically applicable to Long Beach and other circuits we race. It’s bumpy, relatively warm and there are transitions from asphalt to concrete. John (Ward) came with a huge test plan and we worked our way through all of it. The new Red Dragon responded very well to his changes and I am feeling very optimistic with our equipment heading into the season.”
John Ward, engineer, GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing.
“The Porsche is new for all of us; there are always a lot of unknowns in terms of set-up and what works and what doesn’t. It can take a lot of track time to establish a baseline, so it was a good idea to have Wolf join us for the first big test. He gave me great feedback to work with and gave us a benchmark for a time out on the track. This new car really suits Jon’s driving style and by the end of the day, he matched Wolf’s time, so I think we are headed in the right direction.”