The Porsche customer team Pfaff Motorsports has avoided taking any risks at the final qualifying session of this year’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The Brazilian works driver turned just seven cautious laps on the 4.088-kilometre Road Atlanta track at the wheel of his Porsche 911 GT3 R decked out in the popular lumberjack livery. The reason: Pfaff Motorsports only has to cross the starting line at the race on Saturday to score enough points to take home the driver, team and manufacturer titles in the GTD-Pro class. At the so-called “Petit Le Mans” contested over ten hours, Nasr shares driving duties in the No. 9 car with his works driver teammates and Pfaff Motorsports’ regular drivers Matt Campbell (Australia) and Mathieu Jaminet (France).
In the GTD class, the Wright Motorsport squad secured a commendable position on the grid. In this category, amateur drivers share the cars with professionals. Zacharie Robichon planted the No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3 R on the ninth grid spot. With his teammates Jan Heylen (Belgium) and Ryan Hardwick (USA), the Canadian still has a chance to claim the title. The identical car fielded by Hardpoint tackles the last race of the 2022 season from P13. The two Americans Rob Ferriol and Nick Boulle share the No. 99 vehicle with Katherine Legge from England.
“The qualifying result doesn’t match our expectations,“ explains Sebastian Golz, Project Manager Porsche 911 GT3 R. “But we know that we’ll be strong towards the end of the race, especially in the dark and when the temperatures drop. With this in mind, we’re looking ahead and focusing on our race performance.” The “Petit Le Mans” starts on Saturday, 1 October, at 10:40 am local time (16:40 pm CEST). Outside the USA and Canada, the entire race can be viewed live on the website https://imsa.com/tv.
Drivers’ comments on the qualifying
Felipe Nasr (Porsche 911 GT3 R #9): “During the hunt for top times, it was all about getting the tyres up to the optimum temperature. I wasn’t able to do that on the front and rear axles at the same time. Still, we’ve got a long race ahead of us on Saturday and I have no reservations whatsoever that our Porsche 911 GT3 R will be very competitive on the track. I’m firmly convinced that today’s qualifying result doesn’t even begin to reflect what will be possible with our car in the race.”
Zacharie Robichon (Porsche 911 GT3 R #16): “I tried everything and I was perhaps too aggressive at times. I made mistakes in some laps. However, I don’t think I could have suddenly driven even a second faster. That was simply not within the realm of possibility. We’ll be faster in the race – it was the exact same situation last year with the car from Pfaff. At the time, we certainly weren’t among the fastest, but we still finished in second place. It just goes to show that with a good car, anything is still possible here.”
Nick Boulle (Porsche 911 GT3 R #99): “For me, the whole weekend so far has been a learning curve. We modified the car again today. Now I feel really comfortable behind the wheel. In the context of a ten-hour race, that’s far more important than sheer speed in qualifying. Maybe a little rain will help us out on race day. For now, it’s important to get through the first few hours unscathed.”
1. Hawksworth/Barnicoat/Kirkwood (UK/UK/USA), Lexus RC F GT3 #14, 1:18.835 minutes
2. Gunn/Riberas/Gamble (UK/E/UK), Aston Martin Vantage GT3 #23, 1:19.043 minutes
3. Serra/Rigon/Calado (BR/I/UK), Ferrari 488 GT3 #62, 1:19.266 minutes
7. Campbell/Jaminet/Nasr (AUS/F/BR), Porsche 911 GT3 R #9, 1:19.942 minutes
1. Sellers/Snow/Johansson (USA/USA/S), BMW M4 GT3 #1, 1:19.118 minutes
2. Megennis/Lewis/Westphal (USA/USA/USA), Lamborghini Huracan GT3 #39, 1:19.506 minutes
3. Conwright/Holzer/Yount (USA/D/USA), Lamborghini Huracan GT3 #42, 1:19.522 minutes
9. Hardwick/Heylen/Robichon (USA/B/CDN), Porsche 911 GT3 R #16, 1:20.025 minutes
13. Ferriol/Legge/Boulle (USA/UK/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R #99, 1:21.470 minutes