The two Porsche 911 RSR will take up round five of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship from the first grid row. During the qualifying on the Virginia International Raceway (USA), Frenchman Frédéric Makowiecki clocked the best time in the No. 911 car. His works driver teammate Laurens Vanthoor from Belgium planted the No. 912 vehicle on the second grid spot. The Porsche GT Team gave an all-round impressive performance. In the notoriously competitive GTLM class (GT Le Mans), the 515-hp racers from Weissach held a lead of more than half a second over their strong rivals. At this IMSA event, only the two GT classes are contested. The faster prototypes do not race at Virginia this weekend.
The seasoned Porsche factory squad chose the best tactic for the qualifying. At the beginning of the 15-minute session, Makowiecki and Vanthoor initially waited for a minute so that they would have a free run without traffic in the final attempt over six laps. During the qualifying, both works drivers pushed ever closer to the limit and made optimal use of the relatively poor grip level after the rain downpour. With a lap time of 1:40.389 seconds, Makowiecki was around three-tenths of a second faster than last year’s pole-setting time set by Vanthoor – a clear sign of the strength of the latest-generation 911 RSR. This is Porsche’s third pole position from five qualifying sessions so far this season. For the race, Makowiecki shares driving duties with Britain’s Nick Tandy. Vanthoor shares the cockpit of the No. 912 car with Earl Bamber from New Zealand.
In the GTD class, the American Ryan Hardwick posted the twelfth quickest time in the No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3 R. In Saturday’s race over two hours and forty minutes (start 2 pm local time, 8 pm CEST), the ambitious amateur driver shares the cockpit of the 500+hp vehicle fielded by the Wright Motorsports customer squad with Porsche works driver Patrick Long (USA).
Steffen Höllwarth (Head of Operations IMSA Championship): “It’s an incredible result. I congratulate our entire crew. Because of the heavy rain in the second free practice, we didn’t have as much track time as we wanted. With this in mind, there are still a couple of questions about our race pace. Still, the starting position is ideal and Porsche has always been particularly strong at the Virginia International Raceway. We’re looking forward to a fair and close race tomorrow.”
Frédéric Makowiecki (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “I last drove here in 2016 and I first had to familiarise myself again with the terrific layout and the special rollercoaster character of the track. It’s simply great fun! There’s no tolerance for errors on this circuit, so I was careful in gauging the limits at first and I seemed to have got it right on my flying lap. We’ve now done one session in the rain and two practices on a dry track, so we now know all the conditions that might be thrown at us in the race. We’re well prepared.”
Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “This is a perfect result for Porsche. I was very happy with my fastest lap and I actually thought it was worth pole position. It felt absolutely flawless, but Fred was faster – not bad. Perhaps we were a little too cautious with the setup of our car. We should’ve been a little more aggressive then more would’ve been possible. Our advantage in qualifying was pretty big. Let’s see how the competition looks in the race.”
Result GTLM class
1. Tandy/Makowiecki (GB/F), Porsche 911 RSR #911, 1:40.389 minutes
2. Vanthoor/Bamber (B/NZ), Porsche 911 RSR #912, + 0.130 seconds
3. Spengler/De Phillippi (CDN/USA), BMW M8 GTE #25, + 0.706 seconds
4. Garcia/Taylor (E/USA), Chevrolet Corvette C8.R #3, + 0.839 seconds
5. Gavin/Milner (GB/USA), Chevrolet Corvette C8.R #4, + 1.273 seconds
6. Krohn/Edwards (FIN/USA), BMW M8 GTE #24, + 1.327 seconds
Result GTD class
1. Fergus/Holton (USA/USA), McLaren 720S GT3, 1:45.236 minutes
2. Foley/Auberlen (USA/USA), BMW M6 GT3, + 0.074 seconds
3. Montecalvo/Bell (USA/USA), Lexus RC F GT3, + 0.161 seconds
12. Long/Hardwick (USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R #16, + 1.223 seconds