Porsche ends IMSA season on a high

October 22, 2018

Porsche ends IMSA season on a high

October 22, 2018

A tough midseason stunted Porsche GT Team’s hopes of contending for a GT Le Mans class championship. But the team picked the high points to win races during the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.

Porsche’s same trio of Nick Tandy, Patrick Pilet and Fred Makowiecki repeated their win at Sebring with a win in the last endurance race of the season, Motul Petit Le Mans.

Tandy took over the lead in class in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR in the final hour of the 10-hour race. The Porsche has tended to work better this year once in clean air. Once out front, Porsche wasn’t headed the rest of the race.

“We’d like a championship, but at least we started well at Sebring and finished well here,” Tandy explained. “Talking about this race, we’re really happy to select the right Michelin tire at the end of the race. We set up for the cool conditions of the nighttime. It was a difficult call as to which tire compounds to select for the last couple stints, but we did the right thing and it paid off. We’d like to win more races in the middle of the season and score points, but we’re happy.”

This is Tandy’s third win at Petit Le Mans. He won with the Falken team in 2013, while along with Pilet scored a dramatic, upset overall victory here in 2015.

Pilet echoed Tandy’s sentiments that the final call on tire selection near the end of the race maximized the car’s performance through to the finish.

“Exactly; this was the key,” Pilet said. “At the beginning, the warm-up, we said the car is a bit tricky. So we said, ‘OK, let’s keep our focus at end of race. We never want to be too good in the first five hours. It was a bit touchy early, a bit understeery, but it got better and better.

“We made the right tire choice at the end. We had the performance at beginning and kept the consistency throughout, and that was the right choice. Then we got in front, and there we could pull away and keep the gap.”

Tandy and Pilet were classified seventh in the GTLM driver’s standings this season. However, wins at Sebring and Petit Le Mans, plus a win at the 24 Hours of the Nurburgring, all served as highlights for them this year.

In addition, this win came with a retro livery to pay homage to the 1998 Porsche 911 GT1-98, 20 years later.

“The amount of pictures taken of the car and the reaction have been unbelievable; and now it’s a winning car,” Tandy said. “It makes it all more meaningful. Your race cars are associated with the teams and drivers to win the race.”

Porsche’s second car, driven by Earl Bamber, Laurens Vanthoor and Mathieu Jaminet, was also in win contention during the race. But a penalty assigned to the No. 912 for incident responsibility in the eighth hour dropped the car down the order. This car finished sixth in class.

Bamber and Vanthoor finished fifth in the GTLM championship. Porsche finished third among manufacturers.

Both Porsches spent a lot of time out front during the race. The winning No. 911 car led 76 laps and the No. 912 car led 71 laps during the 419-lap race.

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