The ninth round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship run over ten hours is called “Petit Le Mans“. The Porsche GT Team has secured grid positions four and six in the GTLM category. Belgium’s Laurens Vanthoor lapped the 4.088-kilometre Road Atlanta circuit in the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR in 1:15.657 minutes. His works driver colleague Nick Tandy from Great Britain set a lap time of 1:15.858 minutes in the No. 911 sister car.
Vanthoor and Tandy took up the chase for top times after about a third of the 15-minute qualifying session. The two ca. 515 hp Porsche 911 RSR stayed out on the track for eight and nine laps respectively. In dry conditions, an air temperature of 19 degrees Celsius and a track temperature of 41 degrees, Vanthoor posted his best time in lap five. Tandy’s set his fastest time on the storied racetrack on the outskirts of Braselton in the US state of Georgia in lap seven. At the same venue five weeks prior, the British racer had claimed the top time in the GTLM qualifying at the sixth IMSA round – thus, expanding his pole record in the IMSA series.
In the GTD class for vehicles complying with the FIA GT3 regulations, Zacharie Robichon planted the 500 hp Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by the Pfaff Motorsports customer team on P8. The Canadian shares driving duties in the No. 9 car with Porsche development driver Lars Kern (Germany) and the Norwegian Dennis Olsen. The customer squad Wright Motorsports takes up the GTD category from position ten. The No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3 R is shared by the American factory driver Patrick Long, his compatriot Ryan Hardwick and the Belgian Jan Heylen.
“Petit Le Mans” takes off on Saturday, 17 October, at 12.40 p.m. local time (6:40 p.m. CEST). Like the previous six-hour race at the Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, the 24 Hours of Daytona and the Sebring 12-hour race, this ten-hour event counts towards the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup. In this competition, Porsche currently ranks second in the manufacturers’ classification of the GTLM category.
Steffen Höllwarth (Head of Operations IMSA Championship): “We’re not entirely happy with this result, but we’re not going to let it get us down. In the practice sessions we’ve always put less emphasis on finding a setup for one fast qualifying lap and instead focused on the endurance runs. The pace that we managed to set over the distance during the night practice makes us confident for the race. We expect the temperature to drop on Saturday. I think we’re well-positioned for a long and tough ten hours at Road Atlanta.”
Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “I’d actually hoped for a better qualifying result. With a view to the race, we tried something out, but it didn’t really work. Still, the qualifying isn’t so important for a ten-hour race. Now we’ll go back to a setup that we’ve already tried. Let’s see if it’s enough to successfully fight against the competition.”
Nick Tandy (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “Okay, the qualifying result doesn’t look particularly great, but in a way, I’m not completely unhappy. During Thursday’s night practice we had a problem with the car so we weren’t able to prepare optimally for the qualifying. The mechanics changed some parts, which seemed to do the trick. In any case, the positive outcome of the qualifying is that our Porsche 911 RSR now runs perfectly. I feel significantly more optimistic for the race than I did prior to the qualifying.”
Result GTLM class
1. Garcia/Taylor/Catsburg (E/USA/NL), Chevrolet Corvette C8.R, 1:15.163 minutes
2. Spengler/De Phillippi/Herta (CDN/USA/USA), BMW M8 GTE, + 0.271 seconds
3. Krohn/Edwards/Farfus (FIN/USA/BR), BMW M8 GTE, + 0.452 seconds
4. Vanthoor/Bamber/Jaminet (B/NZ/F), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.494 seconds
5. Gavin/Milner/Fässler (GB/USA/CH), Chevrolet Corvette C8.R, + 0.693 seconds
6. Tandy/Makowiecki/Campbell (GB/F/AUS), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.695 seconds
Result GTD class
1. Farnbacher/McMurry/Michimi (D/USA/JPN), Acura NSX GT3, 1:19.291 minutes
2. MacNeil/Balzan/Westphal (USA/I/USA), Ferrari 488 GT3, + 0.173 seconds
3. Montecalvo/Bell/Kirkwood (USA/USA/USA), Lexus RC F GT3, + 0.272 seconds
8. Kern/Robichon/Olsen (D/CDN/N), Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 0.483 seconds
10. Long/Hardwick/Heylen (USA/USA/B), Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 1.108 seconds