Luck doesn’t shine on Porsche in Long Beach

April 18, 2018

Luck doesn’t shine on Porsche in Long Beach

April 18, 2018

The stars nearly aligned for Porsche GT Team to have a perfect weekend in Long Beach.

With strong pace and a great pass for the lead in the second half of the 100-minute race, Porsche looked the favorite to win Saturday’s third race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.

However, despite leading 42 of the 69 race laps, Porsche came up shy of its second straight win this season in the GT Le Mans class.

The weekend of near-misses began in Friday’s qualifying session. Laurens Vanthoor held the provisional pole and would have led teammate Patrick Pilet in a Porsche front row sweep, but Joey Hand denied them that opportunity by taking the pole on his final lap in his Ford.

Vanthoor quickly fixed that in the race, as he passed Hand for the lead just after the green flag in his No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR.

A caution for a stalled Prototype in the Turn 8 runoff area shifted the order in the GTLM class. BMW had pitted its No. 25 car prior to the caution, which leap-frogged the BMW up to the lead ahead of everyone else.

While Alexander Sims did his best to hold back the rest of the field in his BMW, he was unable to do so. Vanthoor’s co-driver Earl Bamber made a daring pass after side-by-side contact through the fountain section, and got past on the inside of Turn 4 on Lap 34.

But following another caution later in the race for debris, Porsche’s win hopes ended. Bamber sustained a right front suspension failure and was forced to retire from the lead.

The No. 911 car had a couple issues and incidents during the race. After a sixth place finish, Pilet and Nick Tandy sit fourth in points, 12 behind leaders Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook.

For Porsche, this was still a great showcase of its performance. The win was there for the taking had there been a bit of luck.

“This race offered everything that spectators like on a street circuit,” said Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Porsche Vice President Motorsport and GT Cars. “With our No. 912 contender, Laurens and Earl did everything right.

“Laurens made a terrific start and immediately took the lead. Earl also fought his way back to the front after the pit stop. Both of them drove an immaculate race, and also found brilliant solutions to difficult situations during some close calls with competitors. For a street race, they were in a very comfortable lead when the damage to the suspension, which could have been caused by contact, quite possibly cost them the win. That was simply bad luck.

“The race for the number 911 car was influenced by a rear-ender. There wasn’t a lot Nick and Patrick could do after that. All in all, we can say that the performance of the 911 RSR was good and that the team did a great job. We’ll take these positive impressions with us to the next race in Mid-Ohio.”

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