The Porsche 963 narrowly missed out on securing its first triumph in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship due to an accident. In the bid for overall victory, Mathieu Jaminet in the No. 6 car and Felipe Nasr in the No. 7 sister car collided with an Acura and retired just 18 minutes before the end of the 12-hour race. The two drivers of the Porsche Penske Motorsport works team escaped unharmed. The hybrid prototype shared by Frenchman Jaminet and his teammates Nick Tandy from the UK and Dane Cameron from the USA came third. In the GTD-Pro class, the Pfaff Motorsports customer squad notched up the first class victory for the new Porsche 911 GT3 R.
The 71st edition of the endurance classic in Florida (USA) was packed with thrills and spills. Despite numerous setbacks due to collisions, penalties and minor technical woes, the two Porsche 963 fielded by Porsche Penske Motorsport were running with the frontrunners in the decisive phase. After the twelfth and final full course yellow, the race was given the green light for the final 30-minute sprint to the flag. The two new hybrid prototypes from Weissach were locked in battle with the No. 10 Acura when Jaminet and his rival Filipe Albuquerque (Portugal) collided. Both cars slid out of control onto the grass area. Felipe Nasr was unable to avoid the resulting chaos and, through no fault of his own, hit his brand colleague’s Porsche 963. All drivers escaped the accident uninjured.
“First and foremost, I’m relieved that all drivers walked away unscathed. We were so close to claiming our maiden win with the Porsche 963 and our Porsche Penske Motorsport factory squad,” concludes Thomas Laudenbach. The Vice President of Porsche Motorsport explains: “We underlined today that we’re capable of scoring overall victories in the IMSA series. A Sebring win would have been a great reward for the hard work of the entire team, our partners and our development squad in Weissach. We want to make up for this as quickly as possible. Despite the gripping and tense competition in Florida, we mustn’t forget one thing: we have homework to do – on the vehicle’s performance and on the operational side of the team. Congratulations to Pfaff Motorsports on winning the GTD-Pro class!”
“I’d like to pay our team a huge compliment. The car covered the long distance with virtually no technical hiccups,” said Urs Kuratle, Director Factory Motorsport LMDh. “Like in yesterday’s FIA WEC race, we had zero defects in the spec components. Thanks to our relevant suppliers. I’d also like to thank our chassis partner Multimatic. Today, we showed that we can achieve anything with our new Porsche 963 in the IMSA series. We have a good platform with great potential. We’re feeling confident about the future because we now know that we can win through our own efforts.”
Pfaff Motorsports’ Porsche 911 GT3 R wins the GTD-Pro class
The race in the GTD-Pro category was no less exciting than the battle for overall victory at Sebring. Right up until the last safety car phase, the lead changed every half hour. With a flawless team effort, a perfect strategy and strong performances by the drivers, Pfaff Motorsports achieved their first victory with the new Porsche 911 GT3 R. The team’s two seasoned drivers Klaus Bachler from Austria and Patrick Pilet from France were supported in the 12-hour race by Belgian works driver Laurens Vanthoor, who had been behind the wheel of the Porsche 963 in the FIA WEC the day prior. The defending champions from Canada secured a class victory after twelve hours with a 2.7-second lead.
In the GTD class, in which professionals share the cockpit with ambitious amateurs, the new GT3 customer team Kelly-Moss with Riley put on an impressive show. Frenchman Julien Andlauer claimed third place in a thrilling finale and celebrated alongside his teammates David Brule and Alec Udell (both USA). The sister car and the two 911 GT3 R cars from Wright Motorsports finished sixth, seventh and eighth. The bright green “Rexy” nine-eleven fielded by AO Racing finished the race 16th in its class.
Round three of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season takes place on April 15 on the streets of the Californian port city of Long Beach.
Driver’s comments after the race
Mathieu Jaminet (Porsche 963 #6): “I would like to apologise to the entire Porsche motorsport family and the Porsche Penske Motorsport team for the accident. In the close finale on the pitch-black Sebring track, sadly such incidents can happen sometimes. I wanted to go all-out and take advantage of a small gap – unfortunately, that resulted in a big accident. My teammate Felipe had nothing to do with it but he was thrown out of the race, too. It was just a huge stroke of bad luck. And so, a great race had a terrible end. Still, I’d like to focus on the positives: The team did a fantastic job, the car was very strong in the race.”
Matt Campbell (Porsche 963 #7): “It’s such a shame that this race came to such an end. Both our Porsche 963s could have finished on the podium, but then came this accident. It was a very unfortunate chain of events. Nevertheless, we must say that our team did a great job. We clearly underlined our potential and will try to turn this into our first win at Long beach.”
Klaus Bachler (Porsche 911 GT3 R #9): “I’m truly at a loss for words. Yesterday I lost control of the car due to a small mistake and slid into the track barrier. That was tough for the team and also for me because that’s the worst thing that can happen in qualifying. But the team did an incredible job and fixed the car. I was thrilled that we were able to race again today. We went for a strategy that worked out perfectly. The team is really good at such things. We allowed ourselves no margin for error and we won the 12 Hours of Sebring. It’s quite the roller coaster of emotions…”
Julien Andlauer (Porsche 911 GT3 R #92): “To be honest, we wouldn’t have made any bets on a podium finish today. The competition was super close with 20 mostly very competitive cars in our class – anyone who finished in the top 10 could have won. But we never gave up, even when we were two laps down. That made the difference. Thanks to our great strategy and the right decisions on the pit wall we managed to fight our way back. That’s why I’m really happy about this podium finish. The Porsche 911 GT3 R went like a rocket, even if we were a touch short of the BMW. There were some very tough duels, bumper to bumper, nobody backed off. Sometimes we overtook two or three cars at once across the grass. But it was almost always fair. This result is well deserved because everybody worked hard for it. I don’t think we could’ve done any better today.”
1. Derani/Sims/Aitken (BR/UK/UK), Cadillac #31, 322 laps
2. Yelloly/De Philippi/Derani (UK/USA/BR), BMW M Hybrid V8 #25, 322 laps
3. Tandy/Jaminet/Cameron (UK/F/USA), Porsche 963 #6, 315 laps
6. Campbell/Nasr/Christensen (AUS/BR/DK), Porsche 963 #7, 315 laps
1. Bachler/Pilet/Vanthoor (A/F/B), Porsche 911 GT3 R #9, 303 laps
2. Hawksworth/Barnicoat/Kirkwood (UK/UK/USA), Lexus #14, 303 laps
3. Juncadella/Gounon/Engel (E/F/D), Mercedes-AMG #79, 303 laps
1. Sellers/Snow/Lewis (USA/USA/USA), BMW M4 GT3 #1, 301 laps
2. Gallagher/Foley/Dinan (USA/USA/USA), BMW M4 GT3 #96, 301 laps
3. Brule/Udell/Andlauer (USA/USA/F), Porsche 911 GT3 R #92, 301 laps
6. Hardwick/Heylen/Robichon (USA/B/CDN), Porsche 911 GT3 R #16, 301 laps
7. Metni/van Berlo/Evans (USA/NL/NZ), Porsche 911 GT3 R #91, 301 laps
8. Brynjolfsson/Hindman/Root (USA/USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R #77, 301 laps
16. Hyett/Jeannette/Priaulx (USA/USA/UK), Porsche 911 GT3 R #80, 285 laps
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