For the first time this season, the Porsche 911 RSR starts from the front grid row on Saturday. Up until the very last lap of the gripping qualifying for round three of the IMSA SportCar Championship, Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium), who shares the #912 Porsche 911 RSR with Earl Bamber (New Zealand), defended the fastest time in the GTLM class. The 510 hp race car from Weissach, which received an optimised setup and further improvements to the reliability for its second racing season, was a mere 0.144 seconds shy of posting its first 2018 pole position. In the second 911 RSR (#911), Patrick Pilet (France) clocked the third quickest time on the 3.167-kilometre racetrack in the port area, and consequently rounded off the best qualifying performance for the Porsche GT Team so far this season. Pilet’s teammate for the race is Nick Tandy (Great Britain).
Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Vice President Motorsport and GT Cars: “It’s a little upsetting to miss out on pole position in the last lap of the qualifying. Still, we’ve secured a very good starting position for the race. Long Beach is a city race with very few chances to overtake. That makes it all the more important to start from as far up the grid as possible. For the race we now just have to do everything right strategically. I’m very satisfied.”
Patrick Pilet (911 RSR #911): “This is a great result for Porsche. The field is extremely tight. The balance of our 911 RSR was very good this morning during the first practice session, however in the qualifying I had slight understeer. But we’ll get that sorted out before the start of the race. Taking up the race from the first two grid rows opens up all possibilities for us.”
Laurens Vanthoor (911 RSR #912): “When you’re the fastest over the entire session obviously you also want to be on pole. But unfortunately we lost it in the last lap. Still, we can be happy with this result. In the race I’ll try to stay out of any trouble. The tiniest error on this track has immediate consequences.”
The race starts on Saturday at 13:05 hrs local time (22:05 hr CEST) and is broadcast live outside the USA on http://www.imsa.com.
1. Hand/Müller (USA/D), Ford GT, 1:16.869 minutes
2. Vanthoor/Bamber (B/NZ), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.144 seconds
3. Tandy/Pilet (GB/F), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.394
4. Magnussen/Garcia (DK/E), Chevrolet Corvette, + 0.424
5. Gavin/Milner (GB/USA), Chevrolet Corvette, + 0.664
6. Westbrook/Briscoe (GB/USA), Ford GT, + 0.680
7. de Phillippi/Sims (USA/GB), BMW M8, + 1.284
8. Krohn/Edwards (SF/USA), BMW M8, + 1.355