The Porsche GT Team takes up the last race of the 2018 IMSA Weathertech SportsCar Championship season from the second grid row. In Friday’s qualifying at Braselton, Georgia, Earl Bamber (New Zealand) set the third fastest lap time in the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR. In the ca. 510 hp sister car with the starting number 911, Patrick Pilet (France) posted the fifth quickest time. The Porsche GT Team sends its two sports cars from Weissach into the ten-hour race on Saturday sporting a design that evokes memories of the Porsche 911 GT1, which scored overall victory at the 1998 Le Mans 24-hour race and pole position at the inaugural Petit Le Mans event.
Unlike many of his rivals in the fiercely contested GTLM class, Bamber initially waited at the start of the qualifying in the hopes of benefiting from improved track conditions and less traffic. The New Zealander, who shares driving duties with Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and Mathieu Jaminet (France), made optimal use of the grip in bright sunshine and high temperatures. Over the course of the 15-minute session on the famous Road Atlanta racetrack, Pilet was able to improve significantly. In the end, the Frenchman was just 0.160-seconds shy of his factory driver colleague. Pilet is joined in the cockpit of the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR by Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and Frederic Makowiecki (France).
In the GTD category, customer teams did not take part in the hunt for pole position. Timothy Pappas turned many laps in the ca. 500 hp Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by Park Place Motorsports to gain further insights for the race. The American shares the No. 73 vehicle with Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Spencer Pumpelly (USA). The Wright Motorsports squad also decided not to contest the qualifying. Works driver Patrick Long (USA), Porsche Selected Driver Christina Nielsen (Denmark) and Robert Renauer (Germany) take turns at the wheel of the No. 58 car.
The race takes off on Saturday, 13 October, at 11.05 hrs local time (17.05 hrs CEST). The final round of the 2018 IMSA SportsCar Championship can be viewed live outside the USA and Canada on http://www.imsa.com.
Pascal Zurlinden (Director GT Factory Motorsport): “The qualifying ran better than expected. During the session, the temperatures were the highest of the weekend so far. Under these conditions it was obvious that we lacked some speed over the lap compared to our rivals. However, this means very little for a race over ten hours. We’re well prepared to tackle Petit Le Mans, especially if the temperatures drop towards the end of the race.”
Patrick Pilet (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “The qualifying was difficult with such high temperatures. A little more may have been possible. Once the tyres were at their peak, I made a small mistake during my flying lap. Still, I managed to improve my time on the following lap. We are well placed for the long race over ten hours – better in fact than we expected. That makes us very confident for race day.”
Earl Bamber (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “The qualifying went really well. Our systematic work on the car with numerous improvements was clearly noticeable. The Porsche 911 RSR got faster and faster. This was obvious in the qualifying session because the car was a dream to drive. I managed a good, clean lap. Okay, it wasn’t enough for pole position, but third on the grid is very good. We’ve found a great setup for the race and we have very good tyres for the long distance. We should be strong, particularly in the dark. I hope everything comes together well on Saturday. We want to conclude the season with a win.”
1. Krohn/Edwards/Mostert (FIN/USA/AUS), BMW M8 GTE, 1:17.006 minutes
2. Magnussen/Garcia/Fässler (DK/E/CH), Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, 1:17.030
3. Vanthoor/Bamber/Jaminet (B/NZ/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 1:17.209
4. Briscoe/Westbrook/Dixon (AUS/GB/USA), Ford GT, 1:17.220
5. Tandy/Pilet/Makowiecki (GB/F/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 1:17.369
6. Hand/Müller/Bourdais (USA/D/F), Ford GT, 1:17.383
7. Sims/De Phillippi/Auberlen (GB/USA/USA), BMW M8 GTE, 1:17.428
8. Milner/Gavin/Fässler (USA/GB/CH), Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, 1.17.451
9. Vilander/Molina/Bertolini (FIN/E/I), Ferrari 488 GTE, 1:17.774
1. MacNeil/Serra/Jeannette (USA/BRA/USA), Ferrari 488 GT3, 1:19.659 minutes
2. Hawksworth/Heinemeier/Rayhall (GB/DK/USA), Lexus RC F GT3, 1:19.732
3. Mies/Morad/van der Linde (D/CAN/RSA), Audi R8 LMS GT3, 1:19.744
13. Henzler/Pumpelly/Pappas (D/USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 1:22.610
14. Long/Nielsen/Renauer (USA/DK/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R, no lap time