The two Porsche 963 fielded by the Porsche Penske Motorsport works team head into the final phase of the Daytona 24-hour race with mixed prospects. During the night, the No. 6 car at times led the field, only to lose ground in the early morning hours. After sunrise, the vehicle is running three laps behind the leading group. After a battery change on Saturday evening, the sister car is 18 laps down on the leader. In the two GTD classes, the customer teams are struggling with the poor BoP classification of the new Porsche 911 GT3 R.
After the start, Felipe Nasr from Brazil quickly settled into the leading pack at the wheel of the No. 7 Porsche 963. The car, which the ex-Formula 1 driver shares with his works driver teammates Matt Campbell (Australia) and Michael Christensen (Denmark), lost significant ground at 7 pm local time. The Porsche Penske Motorsport crew had to replace the high-voltage battery on the new hybrid prototype, which took just 35 minutes. Nevertheless, the No. 7 car lost 20 laps to the leader and all chances of victory at the season-opening round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. As the sun rose, the gap of the GTP car in eighth place was reduced to 18 laps.
At the wheel of the No. 6 sister car, Nick Tandy made good progress in the early phase. After tackling the race from P9, the British racer loomed large in Nasr’s rear-view mirror as fourth in his class after just 15 minutes. Thanks to clever tactics and spirited drives from Tandy and his teammates Mathieu Jaminet from France and Dane Cameron from the USA, the No. 6 entry at times led the field during the night – only to suffer a setback. Tandy spun while lapping a rival in Turn 5 and damaged the car. The repairs cost three laps. At daybreak in Daytona, the ca. 500 kW (680 PS) hybrid prototype lies in sixth place.
“Having to replace the battery was unfortunate, but it solved the problem with our No. 7,” reports Urs Kuratle, Director Factory Motorsport LMDh. “The performance is good. The Acura is certainly the fastest car in the field, but I see our Porsche 963 right behind it. Unfortunately, we and BMW suffered the most damage, Cadillac and Acura had significantly less. Nick Tandy’s spin was also a shame. All in all, we lost too much time in the pits and the garage. We’re hoping for the odd yellow phase so that we can at least make up some ground. We have to hope for a small miracle.”
US debut for the new Porsche 911 GT3 R under difficult conditions
In the two GT classes, a total of seven new Porsche 911 GT3 R (Gen. 992) fielded by five customer teams contest the endurance classic. However, due to less than optimal Balance of Performance (BoP) ratings from the governing body, the nine-elevens tackling the fiercely competitive GTD-Pro and GTD classes have no prospect of major success.
“I’m very proud of the great job we’re doing with our teams and drivers,” states Sebastian Golz, with six hours remaining on the clock. The Porsche 911 GT3 R Project Manager adds: “Compared to the leaders, we’re missing an average of two seconds per lap. Our only chance is to get through the race without any mistakes and take as many championship points as possible into the rest of the season.”
With five hours of racing remaining, the No. 9 car campaigned by Pfaff Motorsports currently ranks fifth in the GTD-Pro class. In the GTD class, the No. 16 entry from Wright Motorsports is the best-placed Porsche 911 GT3 R on P12.
The 24 Hours of Daytona gets the chequered flag on Sunday at 1:40 pm local time (7:40 pm CET).
Drivers’ comments about the race so far
Mathieu Jaminet (Porsche 963 #6): “The start of the race was action-packed. We managed to push to the front and everything was going well. But then Nick spun. I don’t know if it was his fault or not – it’s irrelevant. We lost a lot of ground. I drove three stints until sunrise. It was difficult to get the tyres over that distance. Our prospects aren’t hopeless but we certainly could do with some caution phases to make up laps. We need luck and more performance for the rest of the race. We’ll do our very best.”
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