The Porsche customer team WeatherTech Racing has scored a good grid spot at the qualifying for the final event of this season’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. In the hunt for top times on the Road Atlanta circuit in the US state of Georgia, the Australian works driver Matt Campbell posted the second-fastest time at the wheel of the No. 79 car. His brand colleague Frédéric Makowiecki from France planted the No. 97 sister car on P4. In the GTD class for vehicles complying with the FIA GT3 regulations, the best Porsche 911 GT3 R tackles the so-called Petit Le Mans race over ten hours from position seven.
Over the course of the 15-minute qualifying session, the two ca. 515 PS Porsche 911 RSR gradually upped their pace. In glorious sunshine and temperatures of around 20 degrees Celsius, Campbell and Makowiecki carefully brought their Michelin tyres to the optimal working temperature over several laps. Midway through the session, the pair then began their attack. First, Makowiecki topped the timesheets. Shortly afterwards Campbell replaced him at the top, only to be ousted by a BMW. In the final third of the qualifying, yellow flags were waved repeatedly. Under these conditions, setting a better time proved impossible for the two nine-eleven.
“The result is okay,” says Steffen Höllwarth, Head of Operations GTLM. “In all sessions, our focus was on preparing for the race. At no point was it about training for that one flying lap. With second and fourth, we’re well-positioned to tackle the last race of the season.”
The “Petit Le Mans“ will be the last outing for the Porsche 911 RSR in the North American racing series. From 2022, the GTLM class will no longer be contested in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
In the GTD category, the American Trent Hindman was the fastest qualifier at the wheel of a Porsche 911 GT3 R. Driving for the Wright Motorsports customer squad, the amateur racer achieved seventh place after a close qualifying battle. An incredible result considering an accident during the second free practice on Thursday: Overnight, Wright Motorsports had to have a replacement chassis sent from Cincinnati, some 750 kilometres away, which the team then rebuilt on Friday. The job was completed shortly before the qualifying session. Canadian Zacharie Robichon planted the No. 9 car fielded by Pfaff Motorsports on P8. The identical 500+ PS Porsche 911 GT3 R campaigned by the Hardpoint crew takes up the race from position twelve.
“From nothing to seventh place is a super result and a solid basis for Wright Motorsports after the previous day’s total write-off,” states Sebastian Golz, Project Manager Porsche 911 GT3 R. “In the second qualifying session, which was all about earning points, the results didn’t quite meet our expectations. With a gap of 0.3 seconds, Laurens Vanthoor was the fastest Porsche driver in sixth place. We’re feeling very positive about the race. We’ll do our very best to claim both titles with Wright Motorsports and Pfaff Motorsports.”
The last race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season at Road Atlanta, contested over ten hours, gets underway on Saturday, 13 November, at 12:10pm local time (6:10pm CET). The entire race can be viewed live outside the USA and Canada on http://www.imsa.com. Live timing is available at scoring.imsa.com.
Drivers’ qualifying quotes
Matt Campbell (Porsche 911 RSR #79): “It was alright. I did my utmost to tap the full potential of the 911 RSR – there was nothing more I could do. The BMW was simply faster over a lap. Second on the grid is a good starting position for a long ten-hour race. We’ll make some tweaks to the setup of our car, then we’ll be well prepared to tackle the season finale.”
Frédéric Makowiecki (Porsche 911 RSR #97): “I’m not happy with my performance. Pole position was out of reach, but fourth isn’t what I’d envisaged. The car’s setup wasn’t perfect. It certainly didn’t help that I spun at one point. As a result, the tyres weren’t much good for hot laps. I hope our car will have a better setup for the race.”
Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 GT3 R #9): “I’m not entirely satisfied with our result. We’d hoped for more. The car’s balance wasn’t ideal in the qualifying session. In the hunt for points, I qualified in sixth place. Compared to our main rivals in the championship, we’ve lost a few points; our advantage isn’t that big. We still have to work on some set-up improvements before the start of the race.”
Trent Hindman (Porsche 911 GT3 R #16): “We had a tough time because of an accident during a practice session. Our team managed to rebuild the car from scratch – a fantastic effort! Wright Motorsports is simply one of the best squads in the paddock. It was important for us to take part in the qualifying. It also served as a shakedown for us for the race. We had to check that everything worked again after the rebuild.”
Andrew Davis (Porsche 911 GT3 R #88): “These were my first ever qualifying laps in daylight with the Porsche 911 GT3 R. My previous experience was limited to a few laps during a rainy practice at night. Under such conditions, twelfth is certainly not bad. The car’s setup is good, so I’m feeling confident for the race.”
Grid positions GTLM class
1. Edwards/Krohn/Farfus (USA/FIN/BR), BMW M8 GTE #24
2. MacNeil/Campbell/Jaminet (USA/AUS/F), Porsche 911 RSR #79
3. Garcia/Taylor/Catsburg (E/USA/B), Chevrolet Corvette #3
4. Estre/Christensen/Makowiecki (F/DK/F), Porsche 911 RSR #97
5. Tandy/Milner/Sims (GB/USA/GB), Chevrolet Corvette #4
6. De Phillippi/Eng/Spengler (USA/A/CDN), BMW M8 GTE #25
Grid positions GTD class
1. Kirkwood/Hawksworth/Telitz (USA/GB/USA), Lexus RC F GT3 #14
2. Yount/Conwright/Hites (USA/USA/RCH), Audi R8 LMS GT3 #42
3. Auberlen/Foley/Read (USA/USA/AUS), BMW M6 GT3 #96
7. Long/Hindman/Heylen (USA/USA/B), Porsche 911 GT3 R #16
8. Robichon/Vanthoor/Kern (CDN/B/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R #9
12. Ferriol/Legge/Davis (USA/GB/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R #88