Porsche customer team Pfaff Motorsports won the Michelin GT Challenge at VIR today in the all-GT car race at VIRginia International Raceway (VIR). The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GTD Pro class victory accounts for the fifth win of the season for the car internationally recognized as the “Plaid Porsche”. Not only did Porsche factory drivers Matt Campbell (Australia) and Mathieu Jaminet (France) pilot the No 9 Porsche 911 GT3 R to the all-professional driver class victory, but they also captured the overall win at the Alton, Virginia-area track. In the GTD class, Wright Motorsports finished in fifth-place in the No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3 R race car while Hardpoint earned a tenth-place finish in the Pro-Am style class having run as high as second-place in the final hour of the two-hour, 40-minute race.
Pfaff now leads all teams in all classes of the WeatherTech Championship for most race wins with five victories this season. This was the ninth victory for Porsche at VIR, tying with Chevrolet for most wins by a manufacturer at the Alton, Virginia track. Porsche is the all-time IMSA leader for manufacturer victories with today’s win extending the record to 593.
WeatherTech, GTD Pro Class.
The successful run at VIR required the Canadian team to balance speed and fuel conservation. Having followed a Racing Yellow Porsche 911 GT3 road car pacing the field to the green flag, Jaminet started the race moving quickly into the top-two overall. The Frenchman ran two stints in the 510 hp GT3-spec racer at the front of the field before pitting in the final third of the race to hand the car over to Campbell. Despite this being the Australian’s first trip to the 3.27-mile, 17-turn track in Southern Virginian he moved into the overall lead as pit stop strategies and fuel conservation played into the running order. Campbell was reassured he had the fuel to the end and crossed under the checkered flag first for the fifth time this season. It marked a sweep of the two GT only races for the Chris Pfaff-owned operation as Campbell and Jaminet also combined to win at Lime Rock Park earlier this season.
It was the 11th career victory for Pfaff Motorsports since entering the WeatherTech championship as well as their second consecutive victory at VIR having also won in 2021. Campbell now has ten career IMSA wins while Jaminet has seven.
Pfaff enters the final race of the year at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta as leaders of the GTD Pro class for both team and drivers. With a 265 point lead over Corvette drivers Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor, and 350 points available for a win, the Pfaff program needs to only start the 10-hour race in order to capture the championship.
2022 Pfaff Motorsports’ race victories include: the Rolex 24 At Daytona – with “works” driver Felipe Nasr (Brazil) joining Campbell and Jaminet – WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Lime Rock Park and today at VIRginia International Raceway. The Plaid Porsche secured two other podium finishes this season, including third-place at the Six Hours of the Glen and a second-place at Road America.
Matt Campbell, Driver, No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. GTD Pro.
“Our fifth win of the season, which is a fantastic result, equaling some records in the IMSA championship which is very cool for the entire Pfaff Motorsports team. Coming into the weekend we didn’t know quite what to expect but, as we saw in qualifying and practice the field was extremely tight. Today was a strategy race and the guys on the pit stand made the right calls at the right time. And for us in the car, we didn’t make any mistakes which was key because it was not easy in out there. Now we can have the championship in the bag after we start the race at Petit. Hopefully we can send the car off with a win in its last ever race.”
Mathieu Jaminet, Driver, No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. GTD Pro.
“It was a little bit of a crazy race due to different strategies. We were leading but I started third overall at the restart. It was super tight, we had a couple of contacts. In the end, the team did a fantastic job and the team once again got it right on strategy. We knew it was not going to be easy but, in the end, it was a proper team effort from everyone. Now we just go for another win at Petit.”
WeatherTech, GTD Class.
The Pro-Am class Porsche 911 GT3 R entries for today’s race crossed the finish line in fifth and tenth place after each challenged for the win. Entering the weekend, Wright Motorsports was a narrow 36-points out of the lead of the championship, the John Wright-led operation played the race conservatively to maximize championship points. Finishing in fifth-place, the Ohio-based organization remained close going into the last race on October 1. However, today’s win leapfrogged the No. 27 Aston Martin into the lead of the class slipping Wright back to third, 57 points behind the leader. Drivers Ryan Hardwick (Atlanta, Georgia) and Jan Heylen (Belgium now living in Florida) are 12 markers out of second-place.
Competing at their home track gave Hardpoint an exciting boost as the No. 99 Porsche ran in second-place in class and overall in the final hour of the race. However, a late race stop for fuel would drop Rob Ferriol (Fayetteville, North Carolina) and Katherine Legge (Great Britain) to tenth-place at the checkered flag.
Ryan Hardwick, Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“Unbelievable team effort. We made the correct and right call to pit when we did and our pit crew guys were unbelievable on pit lane; I believe the fastest pit stops yet again. The Aston Martin will be in the points lead going into Pet Le Mans, but we are not far behind. We still feel confident in our chances and ability to bring home the championship on my home turf in just a few weeks. “
Jan Heylen, Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“Overall, not a bad a race for the championship. I am super proud of the team. We had a perfect strategy for starting where we did. The car was good. I don’t think we could have done anything differently. Maybe taking a little more risk in the race but you are running for a championship, so you have to think about all of those things. Overall, I think we need to be happy with the result but disappointed we were so close to a podium and didn’t get there.”
Rob Ferriol, Driver/Team Principal, No. 99 Hardpoint Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“It was a really good weekend. We got a lot of love from the fans here at VIR, the corner workers, the grid marshals, everybody. We felt like we were at a back yard barbecue marking the end of the summer. You can always have a better race, but we finished in the top 10 with the No. 99 GridRival Porsche 911 GT3 R, the car came home in one piece, and we’ve got our eyes forward to Road Atlanta.”
The final round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will take place at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. The 10-hour Petit Le Mans will crown the champions in both the GTD and GTD Pro class for drivers, teams and manufacturers on October 1.