IMSA: Porsche Wins At Sebring
Porsche scored its first win of the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season at the 12 Hours of Sebring. The second round of the IMSA season saw Patrick Pilet, Nick Tandy and Frédéric Makowiecki take victory in the 911 RSR at the 66th running of the historic race in Florida, which Porsche has now won outright on 18 occasions taking 71 class wins since 1960. Furthermore, in the sister 911 RSR, No912, Earl Bamber, Laurens Vanthoor and Gianmaria Bruni finished third.
It was the No912 Porsche that qualified best of the 911s in sixth, with the No911 car just behind. Vanthoor starting the No912 machine picked up two places as the lights went green, with Tandy in the No911 car climbing three spots behind him. The first of 11 safety car periods during the race came on the 14th lap, in the pits during those full course yellow periods, and during scheduled stops, all went to plan for Porsche. On lap 40 Vanthoor moved into the lead for the first time, and shortly before midway through the race Tandy also joined the frontrunners. It was his teammate Makowiecki though who dominated the GT field in the second half of the race, with two hours spent in the lead. A torn rear diffuser caused by a minor off-track excursion was all that threatened to upset the No911 Porsche’s race, it was quickly replaced and the car remained there or thereabouts up front.
After 10 hours and 10 minutes of racing, on the 279th lap, Pilet took the lead for the first time in the No911 RSR, Tandy then defended the position with an inspired drive to the flag on the 328 lap around the famously bumpy airfield circuit. As a result of the victory Tandy, Pilet and Makowiecki move up to second place in the driver’s classification, and Porsche advances to second in the manufacturer’s championship too. The race that also counts towards the North American Endurance Cup, the four-race competition encompassing the long-distance classics of Petit Le Mans, Daytona, Sebring and Watkins Glen.
Nick Tandy commented after the race: “They say that the best victories come from the toughest races. Today was such a race. We didn’t have the slightest problem over the entire distance and that was the key to our success. My last two stints were incredibly intense, especially the duels with the Ferrari and the BMW. We switched to new tyres during the last pit stop – after that, nothing could hold us back.”
Patrick Pilet said: “This win was missing from my collection. It was a great team effort. The pit crew didn’t make one mistake and our strategy was perfect. To celebrate this achievement with my friends Nick and Fred is incredible. After the qualifying, victory seemed a long way off. But when you’re determined to achieve something and you go for it, you can do it. This race is proof of that.”
Round three of the IMSA SportsCar Championship takes place at the Long Beach street circuit in California on 14th April.
|1.Tandy/Pilet/Makowiecki||911 RSR||328 laps|
|2.Sims/de Phillippi/Auberlen||BMW M8||328 laps|
|3.Vanthoor/Bamber/Bruni||911 RSR||328 laps|