The Porsche GT Team travels to the tenth and penultimate round of this year’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Monterey in California (September 7-9) with a pair of Porsche 911 RSR. At the Laguna Seca Raceway, the two 510 hp race cars from Weissach will go up against manufacturers BMW, Chevrolet and Ford. Porsche pursues its third win of the season in the GTLM class. The Porsche customer team Wright Motorsports aims to continue its podium streak in the GTD class with the Porsche 911 GT3 R after claiming its first IMSA victory this season at Road America in Elkhart Lake on August 5. The team Park Place Motorsports fields another 911 GT3 R in this class. Unlike at the recent round in Danville, the competitors in the prototype category will be back on the grid for the Monterey race.
The 3.601-kilometre Laguna Seca Raceway in the dunes of California is one of the most demanding racetracks in North America. The infamous Corkscrew corner is not the only challenge thrown at drivers and engineers: in addition to the generally hot and dusty asphalt of the circuit, they also need to cope with the 55-metre elevation change, which is spread over eleven sometimes tight, sometimes fast turns. Moreover, in recent years the race over just two hours and 40 minutes has often proven to be a game-plan thriller.
The Porsche drivers
The cockpit of the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR is shared by Patrick Pilet (France) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain), the winners of the 12 Hours of Sebring. The winners of the Mid-Ohio race, Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and Earl Bamber (New Zealand), share driving duties in the No. 912 sister car. In the GTD class, the Porsche customer team Wright Motorsports competes with two 911 GT3 R. In the cockpit of the #58 car is the works driver Patrick Long (USA), who grew up in Thousand Oaks, and Porsche Selected Driver Christina Nielsen (Denmark). So far this season, the pair has notched up one victory in the GTD class thanks to their recent win at Elkhart Lake. Park Place Motorsports tackles the race with factory driver Jörg Bergmeister (Germany) and Patrick Lindsey (USA) sharing the 911 GT3 R.
The Porsche vehicles
For the second race season, the 911 RSR was optimised primarily in the setup. Depending on the size of the restrictor, the motor, which is positioned in front of the rear axle, puts out around 375 kW (510 hp). The particularly large rear diffuser combined with a top-mounted rear wing provides strong downforce and aerodynamic efficiency. The ca. 368kW (500 hp) 911 GT3 R was designed for worldwide GT3 series. The vehicle is campaigned by customer teams, for whom Porsche has provided an evo-kit in 2018.
The race takes off on Sunday, 9 September, at 14.05 hrs local time (23.05 hrs CEST) and can be viewed live outside the USA and Canada on http://www.imsa.com.
Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser (Vice President Motorsport and GT Cars): “The season is drawing to a close: Laguna Seca is the penultimate round and my personal favourite. However, in the recent past, the racetrack has proven to be difficult turf for Porsche. I hope we can turn the insights we’ve gained since last year with the new 911 RSR into a good result. We’ll do everything we can to conclude the season with a good performance.”
Pascal Zurlinden (Director GT Factory Motorsport): “We’re heading to Laguna Seca well prepared. In spring we completed a successful test here and we managed to collate a great deal of valuable data with the setup. It’s important on this storied racetrack that the car is not only fast but that it’s easy to handle, because the circuit is a real challenge for the drivers.”
Sebastian Golz (Project Manager 911 GT3 R): “To tackle the turns perfectly at Laguna Seca you often have to do a bit of kerb-hopping. But if you go too far over the kerbs your tyres pick up grains of sand and that costs you time in the next corner. In this regard, we’re expecting a challenging circuit. Thanks to its modified aerodynamics this year, the 911 GT3 R will be very strong especially exiting the Corkscrew. With our customer teams, we should be able to fight for the podium.”
Patrick Pilet (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “Laguna Seca and the surrounding area is one of the most beautiful places in America. We went testing here at the start of the season and that should help us. So I expect we’ll be up with the frontrunners. Tyre management plays a decisive role here.”
Nick Tandy (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “I always look forward to coming to California. We’ve never won the GTLM class at Laguna Seca. It would be great if we could finally score a victory here. The track is fast and flowing and it should suit our Porsche.”
Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “Laguna Seca is simply cool. There are circuits that I like more, but the region is great, for instance for cycling. We expect that our car will suit the racetrack. The next Porsche Rennsport Reunion Festival is held here at the end of September and I’m also excited about that.”
Earl Bamber (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “With its Corkscrew corner, this track is one of the most spectacular in the world. Since we have only an outside chance in the fight for the championship we’re now focusing on scoring individual victories. When we arrive at the Porsche Rennsport Reunion at Laguna Seca in a couple of weeks, it would be great if we could look back on a good IMSA result from this race.”
Patrick Long (Porsche 911 GT3 R #58): “Laguna Seca is a home race for me. I like the region and the track is really challenging. You need a perfect setup here, and it’s very tricky working your way through the traffic on the track. Our Porsche should suit this circuit.”
Christina Nielsen (Porsche 911 GT3 R #58): “I come from Denmark but I live in Los Angeles, so Laguna Seca is virtually a home race for me. I have fond memories of this racetrack: I won here last year and made great progress in terms of the championship. Laguna Seca is also well worth a visit and it’s a great place for hosting guests and sponsors.”
This is the IMSA SportsCar Championship
The IMSA SportsCar Championship, a sports car race series contested in the USA and Canada, was run in 2014 for the first time. The series was formed from the merger of the American Le Mans Series and the Grand-Am Series. Sports prototypes and sports cars start in three different classes: GTLM (GT Le Mans), GTD (GT Daytona) and P (Prototype). The Porsche 911 RSR runs in the GTLM class, with the Porsche 911 GT3 R contesting the GTD class.