The Porsche GT Team is still on course for the podium at the 24 Hours of Daytona (USA) despite the difficult conditions. When the season opening round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was halted around 7am due to torrential rain and restarted after 1.45 hours for one lap, the two Porsche 911 RSR were lying in positions three and five. In the GTD category, the new Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by the Black Swan Racing customer team is within striking distance of first place.
Polesetter Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and his French teammates Patrick Pilet and Frédéric Makowiecki have been part of the leading group in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR since the start on Saturday afternoon (local time). Their works driver colleagues Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) as well as Porsche Young Professional Mathieu Jaminet (France) have made a remarkable comeback after the No. 912 car came into the pits with a defective front splitter mounting. Thanks to a perfect strategy and a flawless drive, the four-lap gap could be closed within just four hours.
As the race went on, neither the heavy rain nor a scheduled stop to change the brakes could throw the two Porsche 911 RSR in the legendary Brumos design out of the top group of contenders. After around 17 hours of racing, the 24 Hours of Daytona was red-flagged due to persistent rain. Despite the difficult conditions, the race resumed. In an attempt to avoid getting caught up in the subsequent mass collision, the Porsche 911 RSR with the starting number 912 lost three positions. With five hours remaining, the two factory cars are currently lying in positions three (#912) and five (#911).
At its first race, the new Porsche 911 GT3 R is underlining its great potential impressively. Works driver Dirk Werner (Germany), Porsche Young Professional Matteo Cairoli (Italy) as well as the teammates Marco Seefried (Germany) and Tim Pappas (USA) are currently on course for a podium finish with the vehicle of the Black Swan Racing customer squad. The ca. 500 hp vehicle run by Park Place Motorsports was at times in the lead, but fell back due to a number of incidents. An accident has put an end to the Pfaff Motorsports team’s first outing in the GTD class. The Porsche 911 GT3 R of NGT Motorsport retired early after suffering a technical defect.
Comments on the race action (18/24 hours)
Frédéric Makowiecki (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “We’ve been amongst the frontrunners since the start of the race, and we even led the field over long stretches. The heavy rain now changes everything. The cards will be completely reshuffled – it’s a great pity. On the other hand, there was no alternative other than to halt the race. Huge amounts of water are lying on the track. Under such conditions it is absolutely impossible to race. I’m curious to see how the race will continue over the next hours. The weather forecast looks anything but good.”
Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “We’ve managed to make up the time we lost at the start thanks to a first-class strategy and our excellent pace. Since then we’re back in the top group with a chance to win. It started to rain early this morning. The wet and dark have created unbelievable conditions. I’ve experienced a lot in my career, but my stint in the rain at night here is definitely one of the three worst drives that I’ve ever experienced in my life. No grip, no visibility – it was all about keeping the car on the racetrack.”
Matteo Cairoli (Porsche 911 GT3 R #540): “I can’t imagine that the race will be restarted, because the meteorologists are predicting even heavier rain for the rest of the day. I like to race and I like the racetrack, but I wouldn’t be too unhappy if the race was red-flagged completely. After several ups and downs, we’re on course for a podium result, and of course we’d like to keep it that way. It would be the first Daytona trophy for me after three attempts.”