One highlight follows the other in the IMSA SportsCar Championship: Just a week after the six-hour classic at Watkins Glen, North America’s premier sports car race series makes its traditional detour over the border for Canada’s one and only round of the season contested on 8 July at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. The Porsche GT Team fields two 510 hp 911 RSR in the GTLM class on the very fast and demanding course close to Bowmanville. This category, in which four automobile manufacturers compete, is known to be particularly tough and is packed with suspense from start to finish. Porsche’s customer team Wright Motorsports runs two 911 GT3 R racers in the GTD class.
The storied 3.957 kilometre circuit at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park is Canada’s oldest racetrack. The first sports car race on the former Mosport International Raceway was contested in 1961 with victory claimed by Stirling Moss. From 1967 to 1977, the Canadian Formula 1 Grands Prix were held on this dauntingly fast racetrack, located two hours by car from Toronto. Porsche’s most recent victory here was scored in 2015 by Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy with the 911 RSR.
The Porsche drivers
Patrick Pilet (France) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain), the winners of the Sebring 12-hour race, share the cockpit of the #911 racer. Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and Earl Bamber (New Zealsnd) drive the second 911 RSR (#912) fielded by the Porsche GT Team in the GTLM class. These two won the Mid-Ohio race in the USA recently. In the GTD class, the Porsche customer team Wright Motorsports compete with two 911 GT3 R. Sharing driving duties in the #58 car is the works driver Patrick Long (USA) and Porsche Selected Driver Christina Nielsen (Denmark), with the #16 vehicle manned by Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Michael Schein (USA).
The Porsche vehicles
For the second race season, the 911 RSR was optimised primarily in the setup. Depending on the size of the restrictor, the motor, which is positioned in front of the rear axle, puts out around 375 kW (510 hp). The particularly large rear diffuser combined with a top-mounted rear wing provide strong downforce and aerodynamic efficiency. The ca. 368kW (500 hp) customer sport racer was designed for worldwide GT3 series on the basis of the 911 GT3 RS production sports car. For 2018, Porsche provides its customer teams with an evo-kit for the 911 GT3 R.
Round 6 takes off on Sunday, 8 July, at 14.05 hrs local time (20.05 hrs CEST) and runs over 2:40 hours. The race can be viewed live outside the USA and Canada on http://www.imsa.com.
Comments before the race
Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Vice President Motorsport and GT Cars: “July is the most intensive month in this year’s IMSA SportsCar Championship. Just a week after Watkins Glen, we’re heading across the border to Canada, and after a short break comes Lime Rock. Three races in four weeks – that presents teams and drivers with very special challenges. This gives us only a few days to prepare for the race at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. We need to make the best use of these days as possible so that we can roll onto the grid on Sunday with perfectly setup 911 RSR.”
Pascal Zurlinden, Director GT Factory Motorsport: “This demanding and fast racetrack offers very little chance to overtake. That makes it all the more important to claim the best possible starting position for the race. This means that we have to do everything to tackle the qualifying with a perfect setup for our 911 RSR. This is no easy task for drivers and teams so soon after the exhausting six-hour race at Watkins Glen.”
Sebastian Golz, Project Manager 911 GT3 R: “This high-speed racetrack demands total concentration from the drivers from start to finish. Because the track surface sometimes changes from one corner to the next, the grip level changes as well. Our 911 GT3 R should benefit from its excellent traction on this circuit, not least thanks to our evo-update.”
Patrick Pilet (911 RSR #911): “We were looking very good on this racetrack last year with the 911 RSR. We set pole position and the fastest race lap, however unfortunately a technical problem put an end to our charge. At Le Mans we learned a great deal as a team and I hope that we can use what we’ve learned for this race. The track is huge fun but it leaves no room for error.”
Nick Tandy (911 RSR #911): “This is my favourite track in North America. It’s always a pleasure to drive here. The track’s fast and flowing, and it’s a real rollercoaster. It reminds me of the racetrack in the UK where I grew up. Porsche has always performed well in Canada. We won the race in 2015. It’s high time for the next win.
Laurens Vanthoor (911 RSR #912): “After the race at Watkins Glen we’re now heading straight to Canada. This gives our team very little time to do lots of work. But the boys are used to this. The racetrack is hugely challenging, it’s quite short, but very fast. Last year we had the chance to win, but we couldn’t use it. I’m confident that we’ll do better this time.”
Earl Bamber (911 RSR #912): “This is one of the fastest circuits on the calendar. I’m looking forward to the challenge. We’re looking good in the fight for the championship and I hope we can continue to improve our position.”
Patrick Long (911 GT3 R #58): “The circuit in Canada is very special. It’s ultra-fast and there are hardly any run-off zones. Driving there is great fun, however you have to keep a cool head and always know what you’re doing. This track is unforgiving of even the smallest mistakes.”