Successful fiery battle: At the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France) won the penultimate GTLM race of the IMSA SportsCar Championship with the Porsche 911 RSR fielded by the Porsche North America works team. With five manufacturers, this category is the most hotly contested. Their teammates Patrick Pilet (France) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain) clinched second with the 470 hp winning racer from Weissach, which is based on the seventh generation of the iconic 911 sports car. After Long Beach, this is the second win this season for the 911 RSR in the USA.
In temperatures reaching 35 degrees Celsius, Patrick Pilet got the best start on the 5.472 kilometre Grand Prix circuit in the hills near the Texas capital. At the wheel of the #911 Porsche 911 RSR, the defending IMSA GT champion snatched one position in the first lap and slotted into second place behind the leading Ferrari. Making the most of his slipstream, Frédéric Makowiecki (#912) also swept past a rival. These three then proceeded to pull clear of their pursuers, putting the 911 on course for podium results shortly after the start.
At the first pit stop, Nick Tandy took over driving duties from Patrick Pilet, with whom he had won the Long Beach race earlier this season. In the 27th lap, he moved into the lead of the GT field. In the second 911 RSR, Earl Bamber maintained third place. In lap 35, the Ferrari again took the lead, but the 911 RSR kept the frontrunner under heavy pressure. With 25 minutes left of the 2.40-hour race, the Ferrari had to make an unscheduled pit stop, thus handing the lead at the hottest race of the year to Porsche. In the final phase, Earl Bamber overtook his leading teammate and secured the first win of the season for him and Frédéric Makowiecki in the most important sports car championship on the North American continent.
Equally as gripping was the GTD-class race in which customer teams campaign the 500 hp Porsche 911 GT3 R. The former Porsche Junior Alex Riberas (Spain), who had tackled the race from pole position for the Seattle/Alex Job Racing squad, defended his lead over long stretches. His teammate Mario Farnbacher (Germany) was on course to claim a seemingly safe second place when he stranded with an empty tank. In Park Place Motorsports’ 911 GT3 R, Jörg Bergmeister (Germany) and his teammate Patrick Lindsey (USA) finished fifth.
Post-race quotes Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport: “That was an incredibly exciting race: A heated battle in which the tyres played a major role. We profited somewhat from Ferrari’s bad luck, but we then drove a clean race to the flag. All in all it was a great performance from the drivers and teams under difficult conditions. I’m very pleased.”Patrick Pilet (911 RSR #911): “A fantastic success for Porsche. I got away well off the line and passed the Ford. After that the race ran problem-free. Our car has proven hugely consistent over the entire season. We were able to successfully utilise the strength of the 911 RSR under these extreme conditions.”Nick Tandy (911 RSR #911): “This race was perfect for Porsche. With the exception of the Ferrari we could control the whole field. I’m also delighted for our teammates in the 912. They really deserve this win. For us it was great to be back on the podium.”Earl Bamber (911 RSR #912): “This victory belongs to the entire team. We saw today that the 911 RSR was the most consistent car over the distance under such extreme conditions. First and second place – a great success for Porsche.”Frédéric Makowiecki (911 RSR #912): “We didn’t necessarily have the fastest car today, but we could maintain a decent pace over the entire race distance. We’ve been working towards this win over the whole season. Finally everything came together. This is precisely the motivation we need heading to the season finale at Road Atlanta.”
The eleventh and final round of the IMSA SportsCar Championship will be contested on 1st October on the storied Road Atlanta racetrack in Braselton in the US state of Georgia.
Race resultGTLM class1. Bamber/Makowiecki (NZ/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 74 laps2. Pilet/Tandy (F/GB), Porsche 911 RSR, 743. Magnussen/Garcia (DK/E), Chevrolet Corvette, 744. Auberlen/Werner (USA/D), BMW M6, 745. Gavin/Milner (GB/USA) Chevrolet Corvette, 736. Hand/Müller (USA/D), Ford GT, 737. Edwards/Luhr (USA/D), BMW M6, 738. Fisichella/Vilander (I/SF), Ferrari 488 GTE, 739. Briscoe/Westbrook (AUS/GB), Ford GT, 61
GTD class1. Curtis/Klingmann (USA/D), BMW M6, 71 laps2. Sellers/Snow (USA/USA), Lamborghini GT3, 713. Nielsen/Balzan (DK/I), Ferrari 488, 714. Potter/Lally (USA/USA), Audi R8, 715. Bergmeister/Lindsey (D/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 716. Barker/Calvert-Jones (GB/USA), Aston Martin, 71
Points standings GTLM class after 10 of 11 racesDrivers 1. Millner, Gavin, Corvette, 314 points2. Briscoe, Westbrook, Ford, 3033. Garcia, Magnussen, Chevrolet, 2904. Bamber, Makowiecki, Porsche, 2865. Auberlen, Werner, BMW, 2756. Fisichella, Vilander, Ferrari, 2697. Hand, Müller, Ford, 2688. Pilet, Tandy, Porsche, 2639. Edwards, Luhr, BMW, 241
Manufacturers1. Chevrolet, 329 points2. Ford, 3093. Porsche, 302 4. BMW, 2885. Ferrari, 282
Teams1. #4 Corvette Racing, 314 points2. #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, 3033. #3 Corvette Racing, 2904. #912 Porsche North America, 2865. #25 BMW Team RLL, 2756. #62 Risi Competizione, 2697. #66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, 2688. #911 Porsche North America, 2639. #100 BMW Team RLL, 241