The two Porsche 911 RSR head into the six-hour Watkins Glen race in the US state of New York from the third grid row. In the 15-minute qualifying for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Earl Bamber set the fifth quickest time in the GTLM class with a time of 1:42.507 minutes. Patrick Pilet planted the #911 car directly behind. Shortly before the end of the qualifying session, which took place in sunshine and a temperature of 30-degree Celsius, both ca. 510 hp vehicles had locked out the second grid row, only to be out-qualified by the competition in the final seconds.
The Porsche GT Team tackles round five of North America’s premier race series on Sunday on the tradition-steeped 5.472 kilometre racetrack. For the long-distance race over six hours, New Zealander Bamber and Belgian Laurens Vanthoor share the cockpit of the #912 car, with Pilet (France) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain) driving the sister car. In the strongly represented GTLM class, in which four automobile manufacturers fight for honours, Porsche currently ranks first in the manufacturers’ category after four races and two victories.
Steffen Höllwarth, Porsche Programme Manager IMSA SportsCar Championship: “Until 20 minutes before the end of the session we’d counted on the second grid row. Then the situation in the qualifying changed. Still, we’re not worried about the race. We performed well in the race simulation during practice. It’ll be tougher in the race compared to the qualifying. But we’re heading into the race well prepared.”
Earl Bamber (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “Positions five and six are not what we’d hoped for, but we’ll have a good car for the race. I’m confident of this. We’re expecting a temperature of 30-degrees Celsius for the race and it’ll get pretty hot in the car for us drivers. The heat puts stress on the tyres, too, but let’s see how things go.”
Patrick Pilet (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “That was a difficult qualifying. We were a tiny bit off with our tyre choice, but I think we’re well sorted for the race. I like this track and we’ll do everything possible to climb the podium at the end. We have six hours to achieve this. The main thing here is to have a consistently fast car. That’s our forte.”
The six-hour race takes off on Sunday, 1 July, at 9.45 hrs local time (15.45 hrs CEST). Outside the USA, the race is broadcast live on http://www.imsa.com.
1. Briscoe/Westbrook (AUS/GB), Ford GT, 1:41.948 minutes
2. Hand/Müller (USA/D), Ford GT, + 0.111 seconds
3. Gavin/Milner (GB/USA), Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, + 0.417 seconds
4. Magnussen/Garcia (DK/E), Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, + 0.549 seconds
5. Vanthoor/Bamber (B/NZ), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.559 seconds
6. Tandy/Pilet (GB/F), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.667 seconds
7. Krohn/Edwards/Blomqvist (FIN/USA/S), BMW M8 GTE, + 1.329 seconds
8. Sims/De Phillippi/Auberlen (GB/USA/USA), BMW M8 GTE, + 1.591 seconds