For the Porsche teams, setting up the new Porsche 911 RSR and the new Porsche 911 GT3 R on the Daytona International Speedway had priority at day two of testing at the “The Roar Before the Rolex 24”. The Porsche North America factory squad and Porsche’s customer teams focused on preparing the new race car from Weissach for the 24-hour classic in Florida to be held on 30-31 January, which kicks off the 2016 season of the IMSA SportsCar Championship, the most important sports car championship in North America. New regulations have been introduced this season for the 911 GT3 R in the GTD class, as well as the 911 RSR, with which Porsche aims to defend all three 2015 GTLM titles for manufacturers, drivers and teams.
In the morning, fog shrouded the storied racetrack, resulting in a delayed and shortened first training session of the day. As temperatures climbed to 23 degrees Celsius and the sun began to break through, teams were able to continue with their test programme from the previous day. Crewing the #911 Porsche 911 RSR was the reigning GT champion, Patrick Pilet (France), as well as his compatriot Kévin Estre and Britain’s Nick Tandy. Sharing driving duties in the number 912 car were Earl Bamber (New Zealand), Frédéric Makowiecki (France) and Michael Christensen (Denmark). They not only contest the Le Mans 24 Hours in this configuration, but also two other long distance races on the IMSA SportsCar Championship calendar – the Sebring 12-hour race and Petit Le Mans on the legendary Road Atlanta racetrack. Their works driver colleagues Wolf Henzler (Germany), Jörg Bergmeister (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA) as well as Porsche Junior Sven Müller (Germany) completed the official Daytona test in the 911 GT3 R run by various customer teams, for whom they will contest the 24-hour race in three weeks’ time.
Marco Ujhasi, Overall Project Manager GT Works Motorsport: “We were able to finish our programme today as planned. The emphasis for us was to gain experience with the new 911 RSR, and to see, for instance, how it responds to set-up changes. It was also important to assess the long-run performance in the 2:45-hour session. These were our main priorities today.”
Sascha Pilz, Head of GT Customer Racing: “After a foggy start to the day with the first training session having to be shortened, our teams used the rest of the day to send all their drivers out onto the track at least once with the new 911 GT3 R. They worked through their programmes with high concentration, but still have to get used to the new car and the high level of downforce. The 911 GT3 R is FIA homologated, which means that the teams are not permitted to make as many changes as they could to the cars they drove last year. Everyone made significant progress in finding a setup today.”
Patrick Pilet (Porsche 911 RSR, No. 911): “We are very familiar with the 911 RSR. The effects of the 2016 modifications are no surprise to us. But it’s still very early days with the set-up work. We focussed on long runs today and tried to find the correct window for the tyres, in other words, to learn when to run what rubber. On the actual race weekend you don’t have time to find the right setup. At Daytona, you have to do your homework far in advance.”
Kèvin Estre (Porsche 911 RSR, No. 911): “My first laps as a Porsche works driver in the 911 RSR on this legendary circuit was an experience. I’ve always dreamed of this. My expectations have been exceeded. To drive for Porsche is something very special. The procedures at Porsche North America are very structured, everyone in the team knows what he has to do. And for a driver, this immediately gives you a good feeling. I was warmly welcomed by everyone, I felt very good right from the start. And we experienced virtually no problems with the 911 RSR. Of course there are a couple of minor things that need sorting out, but we have the whole day tomorrow to do this. We’ll use this time well.”
Sven Müller (Porsche Junior, Porsche 911 GT3 R, No. 35): “To be honest, I didn’t imagine Daytona to be so extreme. The prototypes and GTLM cars are much faster than our car so we have to be extremely careful because you’re constantly being overtaken on the left and the right. Luckily we have a spotter in the stands who forewarns us. Daytona is a great track with banked turns in the oval and high-speed corners in the infield. The new 911 GT3 R is easy to drive, it almost feels like my 911 in the Supercup, except it has much more downforce and you can brake later. For me it’s a great experience.”
Jörg Bergmeister (Porsche 911 GT3 R, No. 39): “It has been quite some time since I last drove a GTD car here. The new 911 GT3 R is certainly a step forward. As far as downforce is concerned, it is very similar to a 911 RSR in the GTLM class. I still have to get used to the tyres, but basically everything is going very well.”