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Porsche GT Team scores second at Laguna Seca after tactic thriller

The Porsche GT Team has secured another podium result at the penultimate race of the IMSA SportsCar Championship season. After a gripping race at Laguna Seca, Earl Bamber (NZL) and Laurens Vanthoor (B) crossed the finish line in second. The pair in the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR was just 2.488-seconds off claiming the second win of the year. Their team colleagues Nick Tandy (GB) and Patrick Pilet (F) had to park their 911 RSR early after becoming entangled in another competitor’s accident. In the GTD class, works driver Jörg Bergmeister (Germany) and Patrick Lindsey (USA) clinched second. 

The race over two hours and 40 minutes was marked by different strategies and many caution phases. At an early safety car phase, the Porsche GT Team called Bamber into the pits. As a result, the New Zealander moved into the lead shortly before halftime. After handing the 510 hp 911 RSR off to his teammate Vanthoor, the race turned into a real thriller. The Belgian had to stay out on the track for an hour and 17 minutes on a tank of fuel and one set of tyres – a big ask faced with the tough competition in the GTLM category. Putting in a focussed and flawless drive as well as a clever use of fuel, the Belgian brought the vehicle home in second place.

For the sister car, the race was over before it had really started. In the chaos of the start, Tandy was unable to avoid a damaged prototype. In a front-on collision, the 911 RSR with the number 911 was damaged so badly that it could not continue.

The Porsche customer team Park Place Motorsports celebrated a podium finish in the dunes of California. Works driver Bergmeister successfully fended of repeated attacks from his rivals in the final phase. The German used his vast experience to bring the 500 hp Porsche 911 RSR with the number 73 safely across the finish line in second place. Factory driver Patrick Long (USA) and Porsche Selected Driver Christina Nielsen (DK) concluded the race on eleventh.

Many Porsche works drivers and racing legends will return to the Laguna Seca Raceway in three weeks to celebrate the Porsche Rennsport Reunion in California from 27 to 30 September, 2018. The world’s largest event for Porsche enthusiasts and connoisseurs of historic race cars will be held for the sixth time. The 2018 season of the IMSA SportsCar Championship will conclude with the round at Road Atlanta (10 to 13 October) in the US state of Georgia. The race, which is dubbed “Petit Le Mans”, is contested over ten hours.

Comments on the race
Steffen Höllwarth (Porsche Program Manager IMSA SportsCar Championship): “That was a real thriller! First and foremost, I’m very pleased that nothing bad happened to Nick. He couldn’t do anything about the accident directly after the start. The impact was hard. The extensive safety features on the 911 RSR have proven their worth today. The race for our number 912 car was marked by caution phases, but we didn’t let this interfere with our strategy. The final stint was all about conserving as much fuel as possible and not ruining the tyres. Laurens did a great job. Of course we would have liked to win, but ultimately that was an impressive performance from the entire team.”

Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “Based on the fact that we expected a difficult race, this result is really good. Of course it’s a shame that it wasn’t quite enough for first place. It was incredibly tough. We came into the pits early and therefore had to be extremely conservative with our fuel the whole time. Under such circumstances it’s difficult to keep the tyres at the optimal temperature. Such things don’t make the job easier. I did everything I could and finished in second place. We couldn’t do any better than that today.”

Earl Bamber (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “That was a tough job. After my early pit stop the main focus was to save fuel. But we also couldn’t afford to slow the pace – it worked well. Laurens’s long stint was sensational. Second place is the well-deserved reward for great teamwork, great decisions and clean drives. I’m really sorry about our sister car. The important thing is that nothing happened to Nick in the accident.”

Nick Tandy (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “It’s bitter to retire before the race even got underway. A prototype had spun in front of me and that triggered a chain reaction. I had no chance to avoid it. I hope our luck returns at the season finale at Road Atlanta.”

Patrick Pilet (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “It’s extremely disappointing, but that’s how it goes sometimes in motor racing. When you have a lot of cars from different classes starting together, it can quickly lead to collisions and chaos. Nick couldn’t do anything. The prototype stood right in the middle of the track – he had no chance.”

Race result
GTLM class
1. Sims/De Phillippi (GB/USA), BMW M8 GTE, 100 laps
2. Vanthoor/Bamber (B/NZ), Porsche 911 RSR, 100 laps
3. Magnussen/Garcia (DK/E), Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, 100 laps
4. Krohn/Edwards (FIN/USA), BMW M8 GTE, 100 laps
5. Gavin/Milner (GB/USA), Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, 100 laps
6. Briscoe/Westbrook (AUS/GB), Ford GT, 71 laps
7. Hand/Müller (USA/D), Ford GT, 2 laps
8. Tandy/Pilet (GB/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 0 laps

GTD class
1. Legge/Parente (GB/P), Acura NSX GT3, 97 laps
2. Bergmeister/Lindsey (D/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 97 laps
3. Keating/Bleekemolen (USA/NL), Mercedes-AMG GT3, 96 laps
11. Long/Nielsen (USA/DK), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 96 laps
Full results are available on: http://results.imsa.com

Source. Porsche

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