The Porsche GT Team fields two 911 RSR at round nine of the IMSA SportsCar Championship season on the Virginia International Raceway on 19 August. The 510-hp racer from Weissach, which has already notched up victories at the 12 Hours of Sebring and the Mid-Ohio race so far this season, tackles the infamously cutthroat GTLM class against strong opposition from BMW, Chevrolet and Ford. In the GTD class, Porsche’s customer team Wright Motorsports campaigns the 911 GT3 R, which recently celebrated its first win this year in the USA at Road America. The prototypes will be absent at the venerable 5.263-kilometre racetrack close to Alton in the US state of Virginia for the second time this season. This means that overall victory will go to a GT car.
The racetrack on the North Carolina state border can look back on an eventful history: In 1971, Porsche legends Hurley Haywood and Peter Gregg won the first ever IMSA GT race there with the Porsche 914-6 GT. As a consequence of the oil crisis, the racetrack closed its gates in 1974 and reopened in the year 2000 as America’s first motorsport venue offering a wide range of recreational facilities to racing fans and their families.
The Porsche drivers
The cockpit of the #911 Porsche 911 RSR is shared by Patrick Pilet (France) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain), the winners of the 12 Hours of Sebring. The Mid-Ohio winners Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and Earl Bamber (New Zealand) share driving duties in the second 911 RSR (#912) fielded by the Porsche GT Team. In the GTD class, the Porsche customer team Wright Motorsports competes with the 911 GT3 R. Sharing driving duties in the #58 car are the works driver Patrick Long (USA) and Porsche Selected Driver Christina Nielsen (Denmark), who recently scored their first win of the season at Road America.
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 provides strong downforce and aerodynamic efficiency. The ca. 368kW (500 hp) 911 GT3 R was designed for worldwide GT3 series. The vehicle is campaigned by customer teams, for whom Porsche has provided an evo-kit in 2018.
The race takes off on Sunday, 19 August, at 13.35 hrs local time (19.35 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: “With the race in Virginia we turn onto the finish straight of a gripping and hotly contested IMSA SportsCar Championship season. Although it looks as if we’re out of contention for the title, we are determined to underline the potential of our 911 RSR with a strong performance. After our victories at Sebring and Mid-Ohio, our aim is to bring home our third victory of the season with our 911 RSR.”
Pascal Zurlinden, Director GT Factory Motorsport: “The Virginia International Raceway is a circuit that demands a great deal of precision from the drivers. The tiniest error usually ends up in the grass. The team will do its utmost to again find the perfect setup for our 911 RSR for this race. The conditions aren’t easy for all competitors, not least due to the heat and high humidity we’re expecting.”
Sebastian Golz, Project Manager 911 GT3 R: “After securing the second pole position and the first victory for the 911 GT3 R in the USA, our customer team Wright Motorsports is well prepared to continue the series of successes on the Virginia International Raceway. However, this typical American racetrack has its quirks. For the drivers there’s a very fine line between a fast lap time and losing traction.”
Patrick Pilet (911 RSR #911): “Racing in Virginia is always great fun. The track is very fast and demanding – a real challenge. The fact that we’re going for overall victory gives us an additional boost. In 2015 we scored a double victory here with Porsche and I hope we’ll be amongst the frontrunners again this year. But to do this, everything has to come together perfectly because with all the fast corners you can’t afford to make the slightest mistake. A trip onto the greens turns your car into a lawnmower and by the time your pit crew has removed all the grass from the radiator the race will be over.”
Nick Tandy (911 RSR #911): “I’m really looking forward to this race. Virginia is a beautiful region with a lot of forests. It reminds a little of the region where I live in the UK. The circuit has a lot of fast corners and this should really suit our 911 RSR. I have fond memories of our victory here three years ago. It’s always especially motivating to return to a racetrack where you’ve won before.”
Laurens Vanthoor (911 RSR #912): “Virginia is the third to last race of the season. It’s crazy how fast time flies. The circuit is in the middle of nowhere and it’s very special because it doesn’t leave any room for error. If you don’t watch out, you end up on the grass and heading for the forest. You can never regain the time you lose. It’s a cool racetrack that should suit our 911 RSR well.”
Earl Bamber (911 RSR #912): “Virginia marks the critical phase of the championship. From this point on we can’t afford to give away any more points. We’re bracing ourselves for a very close and tough fight. The track is fascinating and it’s always been good turf for Porsche. At my last race there in 2015 I climbed the podium in second place. On the home straight of the season, we want to grab every chance to score the odd victory with the 911 RSR.”
Patrick Long (911 GT3 R #58): “Traditionally, Virginia has a lot of sports car fans. I hope we can offer them an exciting race. The Virginia International Raceway is technically very demanding and it requires a perfect setup. Strategy also plays an important role here because compared to other racetracks there are usually less safety car phases due to the many run-off areas. Our first win of the season gave the entire team a real boost. We now want to make the most of this excitement to bring home another top result.”
Christina Nielsen (911 GT3 R #58): “You drive a fine line on the Virginia International Raceway. If you stray from the racing line it gets extremely slippery. You have to carefully weigh up the risks you’re willing to take; if it’s too much you end up on the grass. That costs time. But if you hold back too much, you’ll be left behind. On this track you have to get it all exactly right.”