The Porsche GT Team has qualified on positions six and eight for the eighth round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Road America. Due to a thunderstorm sweeping through Elkhart Lake (Wisconsin/USA), Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) in the No. 912 car and Patrick Pilet (France) in the No. 911 vehicle delayed taking up Saturday’s 15-minute qualifying session. Setting a time of 2.01.038 minutes, the driver crew Vanthoor and Earl Bamber (New Zealand) heads into Sunday’s race from position six. Pilet lapped the 6.515-kilometre circuit in 2:01.836 minutes. He takes up the race from the eighth grid spot with his teammate Nick Tandy (Great Britain).
The sun was still shining on the storied racetrack shortly before the start of the qualifying, when suddenly dark clouds gathered overhead, lightning flashed and raindrops began to fall. The predicted thunderstorm, however, passed by the track. The strategy for a slightly damp track that the team had put in place did not play out as expected. The two ca. 510 hp Porsche 911 RSR will now have to launch a pursuit through the field over 2:40-hour event. So far this season, at least one of the two Porsche crews has climbed the podium, and the Porsche GT Team has notched up five victories from seven races.
The qualifying session for the 15-strong GTD class field was shortened by five minutes due to the weather. In the red-flagged session, the Canadian Zacharie Robichon posted the fourth quickest time at the wheel of the 500+hp Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by the Pfaff Motorsports customer team. Anthony Imperato’s vehicle campaigned by Wright Motorsports landed on P9. The owner of the Park Place Motorsports squad, Patrick Lindsey, planted his 911 on eleventh place.
The race over 2:40 hours takes off on Sunday, 4 August, at 1:35pm local time (8:35pm CEST) and can be viewed live outside the USA and Canada on http://www.imsa.com.
Steffen Höllwarth (Programme Manager IMSA SportsCar Championship): “Positions six and eight are certainly not a satisfactory outcome, especially in light of the fact that we were the fastest in all three practice sessions. It was critical to be out there with the right tyre pressure when the track offered the most grip. The others managed this a little better than us today. We’re facing a major catch-up job tomorrow.”
Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “My qualifying lap was really good. Our setup was better than in free practice. Although the track was a little damp, I managed to be six-tenths of a second faster than in the previous session. Still, it was only good enough for sixth.”
Patrick Pilet (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “That qualifying wasn’t easy for us. We went out in slippery conditions just after a short rain shower and therefore adjusted the tyre pressure a little too high. The first lap was fine, but then the tyres got too warm and didn’t offer the grip we needed.”
1. Blomqvist/De Phillippi (GB/USA), BMW M8 GTE, 2:00.344 minutes
2. Gavin/Milner (GB/USA), Corvette C7.R, 2:00.663
3. Krohn/Edwards, BMW M8 GTE, 2:00.767
6. Bamber/Vanthoor (NZ/B), Porsche 911 RSR, 2:01.038
8. Pilet/Tandy (F/GB), Porsche 911 RSR, 2:01:836
1. Keating/Bleekemolen (USA/NL), Mercedes-AMG GT3, 2:05.250 minutes
2. Sellers/Lewis (USA/USA), Lamborghini Huracan GT3, 2:05.663
3. Holton/Plumb (USA/USA), McLaren 720S GT3, 2:05.723
4. Campbell/Robichon (AUS/CDN), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 2:05,890
9. Olsen/Imperato (N/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 2:06.432
11. Long/Lindsey (USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 2:06.886