After the street race through the harbour district of Long Beach, the IMSA SportsCar Championship returns to a classic racetrack on 1 May. Laguna Seca Raceway in the dunes of Monterey (CA) hosts round four of the sports car race series contested throughout the USA and Canada. In the GTLM class, the Porsche North America works squad campaigns two Porsche 911 RSR, which were developed on the seventh generation of the iconic 911 sports car. With five manufacturers competing, this class enjoys the most support.
The trademark of this 3.601-kilometre circuit is the legendary corkscrew corner, which winds steeply downhill from the highest point of the track. A truly daunting corner. The challenging Laguna Seca Raceway is situated in the hills east of Monterey, two hours’ drive south of San Francisco. John Steinbeck immortalised this coastal city with his world renowned 1945 novel “Cannery Row”.
The Porsche drivers
Four Porsche works drivers tackle the race with the Porsche 911 RSR. Sharing the cockpit of the #911 vehicle is the defending IMSA GT champion Patrick Pilet (France) and outright Le Mans winner Nick Tandy (Great Britain). The pair scored their first win of the season recently at Long Beach. Driving the #912 racer is overall Le Mans winner Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France). These two secured third place at the first two races of the season at Daytona and Sebring. The fifth factory pilot, Jörg Bergmeister (Germany), will compete for the Porsche customer team Park Place Motorsports.
The Porsche vehicles
For 2016, the Porsche 911 RSR received modifications to the aerodynamics to comply with the new regulations. The position of the rear wing was moved further to the back, with the rear diffuser now considerably larger. Moreover, the 470 hp winning racer from Weissach received a new factory design. The 911 GT3 R, which celebrated its race debut at Daytona mounted with the new, ultra-modern, four-litre flat-six engine with direct fuel injection, was built by Porsche for the GT3 series worldwide based on the 911 GT3 RS production sports car.
The GTLM and P classes start on Sunday, 1 May, at 11.15 hrs local time (20.15 hrs CEST). The GTD and PC classes take off at 15.45 hrs local time. All races run over two hours and will be broadcast live outside the USA on http://www.imsa.com.
Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport: “A lot of factors came together perfectly for our first win of the season at Long Beach – the performance of the 911 RSR and our drivers, as well as the pit stops. Last year our lead-in time took a little longer, this time we managed to score the first victory at just our third race in the USA. Our preparations leading up to Laguna Seca will be just as intensive and we will do everything we can to turn the extra motivation and energy that this win gave our team into a top result.”
Marco Ujhasi, Overall Project Manager GT Works Motorsport: “The race is shorter than last year’s, so that makes it all the more important to have an excellent strategy worked out and not make any mistakes. The highlight is the corkscrew, of course. Such a corner is unique in the world. We’ll work out some special set-up details especially for this section of the track.”
Patrick Pilet (911 RSR #911): “This is one of the most beautiful races of the season. The circuit is located in a magnificent setting and it’s very demanding. The track is like a rollercoaster, and the tyres come under extreme stresses. It’s crucial to find a good compromise with the car’s setup and tyre choice. Last year we launched our catch-up campaign at Laguna Seca, which ultimately led to the title. Hopefully this is a good omen”
Nick Tandy (911 RSR #911): “I have fond memories of Laguna Seca. In 2013 I scored my first U.S. victory there in the GTC class. Because the wind constantly blows sand on to the track, conditions can change from lap to lap. That makes it difficult, but also interesting.”
Earl Bamber (911 RSR #912): “I’ve never actually raced at Laguna Seca. I only know this wonderful circuit from last year’s Porsche Rennsport Reunion. I got the chance to turn several demo laps with outstanding cars such as the 919 Hybrid and the GT1. The circuit has something truly magical about it. I can hardly wait to go racing with the 911 RSR there.”
Frédéric Makowiecki (911 RSR #912): “I also turned a couple of demo laps with the 911 RSR on this great racetrack at last year’s Porsche Rennsport Reunion. Now Earl and I are looking forward to our first race together here. I’m really excited to see how the corkscrew feels at racing speed.”
Jörg Bergmeister (911 RSR #73): “Laguna Seca is a racetrack that’s great fun. The famous corkscrew poses a very special challenge, of course. We approach it in fifth gear at 210 kph and suddenly you’re looking at the sky. The only landmarks at this point are a couple of trees. So it’s not at all easy to perfectly negotiate this corner.”