The Porsche 911 GT3 R crewed by Matt Campbell from Australia, Mathieu Jaminet from France and Felipe Nasr from Brazil has finished the 12 Hours of Sebring in fifth place. For the trio sharing the cockpit of Pfaff Motorsports’ No. 9 entry, this result is enough to retain their lead in the GTD Pro class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The identical model fielded by WeatherTech Racing crossed the finish line in P6.
Despite the seven caution phases, the 70th edition of the endurance classic turned out to be uncharacteristically static. In air temperatures of over 30 degrees Celsius in the Florida “Sunshine State”, the positions in the GT class were set shortly after the start. All of Porsche’s strong and experienced customer teams put in flawless performances and implemented great strategies, but the cars never came within striking distance of the podium.
“After the class victories at Daytona and last year’s win at Sebring, we’d expected more. Unfortunately, the performance of the Porsche 911 GT3 R wasn’t what we’d hoped for,” concludes Thomas Laudenbach, Vice President Porsche Motorsport. “We’ll take a close look at reasons behind these disappointing performances. Facing fierce competition in the two GTD classes, our strong customer teams never gave up and they gave their utmost to the very last lap. That deserves our highest respect. I’m positive that our 911 GT3 R will be at the top again at the upcoming race in Long Beach.”
“We’re disappointed – obviously,” states Sebastian Golz. The Porsche 911 GT3 R Project Manager adds: “Once again, our customer teams did a great job. Unfortunately, in today’s race, our car wasn’t as competitive as usual. We’ll take a good look at whether this was due to the high temperatures or the grip conditions on the track. We’re not happy with this result, but we’re still confident about the upcoming races. And you mustn’t forget, Porsche is the most successful manufacturer at the Sebring race. We have 100 class wins to our credit – more than all other manufacturers combined.”
In the GTD category, the American Rob Ferriol, Britain’s Katherine Legge and her fellow countryman Stefan Wilson finished in eighth place. After being dealt a setback in free practice, the Hardpoint squad made an impressive comeback in the race. The 367 kW (500 PS) nine-eleven (No. 99) was irreparably damaged after an accident on Thursday. The crew from the US state of Virginia built a replacement chassis in time for the start of the 12-hour race. Bad luck plagued the Daytona-winning team Wright Motorsports. Start driver Zacharie Robichon from Canada, who had planted the No. 16 car on pole position in the GTD class the previous day, came into the pits after just three laps. The technicians discovered a defect in the differential. The repairs, which took over 30 minutes, threw the outfit from the US state of Ohio 18 laps behind. Wright Motorsports’ 911 GT3 R ultimately took the flag in tenth place.
Round three of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship on 10 April will be contested on the spectacular street circuit in the Californian port city of Long Beach.
Drivers’ comments on the race
Mathieu Jaminet (Porsche 911 GT3 R #9): “Fifth place was the most we could achieve today. It was already clear in qualifying that it wasn’t going to be easy. Unfortunately, it turned out to be even worse in the race. We just didn’t have the necessary pace. We need to carefully analyse this result and react accordingly. I’m certain that we’ll be fighting for the podium again at the upcoming Long Beach race.”
Alessio Picariello (Porsche 911 GT3 R #79): “We never really got up to speed the whole weekend. Our race was flawless, without incidents, without mistakes and with really quick pit stops. Our team and drivers did everything possible. Unfortunately, we simply weren’t the fastest on the track today.”
Rob Ferriol (Porsche 911 GT3 R #99): “It wasn’t our best Sebring result, but 24 hours before the race we pretty much didn’t have a car. Our team built a replacement vehicle in practically no time at all and everything worked. That’s a huge compliment for Porsche. You take the parts that still work from a crashed car, put them on another chassis, start from the back of the grid and finish in the top ten in the toughest race of the season. That’s incredible. Hats off to our team, who demonstrated they can overcome even the greatest challenges.”
Zacharie Robichon (Porsche 911 GT3 R #16): “Lately, we’ve always been lucky and had a really great run. It was clear that this had to end at some point. Of course, it was a real shame that this happened only a few minutes into the Sebring race. The defect threw us back a long way, but we never gave up. Our team repaired the car quickly, we caught up and finished in the top ten. Not the desired result, but that’s what happens sometimes.”
Result GTD-Pro class
1. Garcia/Taylor/Catsburg (E/USA/NL), Corvette C8.R GTD #3, 323 laps
2. Bortolotti/Mapelli/Caldarelli (I/I/I), Lamborghini Huracan GT3 #63, 323 laps
3. MacNeil/Engel/Gounon (USA/D/F), Mercedes-AMG GT3 #97, 322 laps
5. Campbell/Jaminet/Nasr (AUS/F/BR), Porsche 911 GT3 R #9, 322 laps
6. Andlauer/Picariello/MacNeil (F/B/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R #79, 322 laps
Result GTD class
1. Lacorte/Sernagiotto/Fuoco (I/I/I), Ferrari 488 GT3 #47, 321 laps
2. Skeen/McAleer/Juncadella (USA/GB/E), Mercedes-AMG GT3 #32, 321 laps
3. Mann/Perez Companc/Vilander (USA/ARG/FIN), Ferrari 488 GT3 #21, 321 laps
8. Ferriol/Legge/Wilson (USA/GB/GB), Porsche 911 GT3 R #88, 318 laps
10. Hardwick/Heylen/Robichon (USA/B/CDN), Porsche 911 GT3 R #16, 305 laps