After scoring four wins in a row, title defender Porsche has extended its lead in the manufacturers’ classification of the Tudor United SportsCar Championship (GTLM class).
On the Virginia International Raceway, Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet won the Oak Tree Grand Prix on Sunday with the Porsche 911 RSR. Victory at round eight of the hotly-contested North American sports car championship marks the third straight win after Bowmanville and Road America for Le Mans overall winner Nick Tandy and his teammate Patrick Pilet.
Their achievement has elevated Pilet to the top of the drivers’ standings. Moreover, their Porsche North America squad, which fields the 911 RSR at races in the USA and Canada, has taken over the lead of the team classification. Clinching second at the wheel the sister 911 RSR, Earl Bamber and Jörg Bergmeister rounded off a perfect third double victory of the season for Porsche.
Porsche also secured the “DEKRA Green Challenge Award”, presented to the fastest, most environmentally clean and efficient GTLM competitor: Like in Watkins Glen, the 911 RSR driven by Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy was distinguished as the GT car with the best overall efficiency. The Porsche 911 RSR features the smallest capacity of all competing GT cars. Customers all over the world praise its road-going 911 GT3 sibling for its outstanding ratio of performance and fuel consumption.
Nick Tandy headed into the race from pole position on the 3.26 mile Virginia International Raceway, which is located in the rural idyll of the US state of Virginia on the North Carolina border. Tandy is the first GT driver since the Tudor United SportsCar Championship began in 2014 to have secured the front grid spot for a race three times. After shocking his rivals the previous day with his top time in qualifying, he made a cracking start into the race and opened a substantial gap in the first laps. Before handing the 911 RSR off to Patrick Pilet, he had laid the foundation for a commanding lights-to-flag victory. By the time the duo took the flag after 92 laps, they had built up a comfortable lead of more than 27 seconds over the tight and well-balanced field.
Initially, things did not run quite as smoothly for the second Porsche North America-run 911 RSR with the starting number 912. Jörg Bergmeister, who was barely a tenth of a second slower in qualifying than pole-sitter Nick Tandy, lined up beside his team colleague at the front of the field, but had to relinquish a position right after the start. When Earl Bamber, as the second Le Mans overall winner in the team, took the wheel of the 911 RSR, he thrilled fans with a spectacular pursuit through the pack. When he rejoined the race in fifth after a pit stop, he picked off one rival after the other, and, in one final overtaking feat, he conquered second place.
While he was busy fending off hefty attacks from the opposition for the last half hour of racing, Wolf Henzler and Bryan Sellers brought home seventh place at the wheel of the Falken Tire customer team’s 911 RSR.
In the GTD class, the Porsche 911 GT America campaigned by the Seattle/Alex Job Racing customer team secured third place. At the wheel were drivers Mario Farnbacher and Ian James. So far this season, the pair has won the Sebring and Detroit races.
Steffen Höllwarth, Programme Manager Tudor United SportsCar Championship said “What a day! It doesn’t get better than this. Every team member has contributed to this success. Although we were second and third in qualifying yesterday, we were the last to leave the pits in the evening, and this morning we were the first at the track. This effort has paid dividends. We found a super setup for our 911 RSR, which was definitely the key to our success. A very special thanks to Michelin, as well, for the excellent tyres.”
Patrick Pilet (Porsche 911 RSR #911) told us, “I’d like to thank the whole crew. Our 911 RSR was perfect. The race was not as easy as it may have seemed for us. On the contrary, it was really tough. We had to be fast, we couldn’t make any mistakes, and we had to keep a close eye on the fuel gauge. But once again the team gave us excellent support. Nick’s first stint was fantastic and he held the Ferrari at bay. That was the basis of our success. Starting tomorrow, we will turn our attention to the next race at Austin – but right now we’re going to celebrate.”
British driver Nick Tandy (Porsche 911 RSR #911) added, “This victory means a great deal to me. To win three races in a row is difficult in any championship. But it is especially gratifying when you achieve this with Porsche in one of the world’s most competitive sports car series against such strong opposition. First victory at Le Mans, then the wins here – it looks like 2015 is turning into a very special year for me as a race driver. I’m enjoying the success and I’ve not had enough of it yet.”
Kiwi Earl Bamber (Porsche 911 RSR #912) said, “Our first stint was hard and afterwards we had to make up the lost positions. Our crew’s perfect pit stops helped. I immediately tried to put as much pressure on as possible. While I was running in third, I knew I wouldn’t get too many chances to make the double victory perfect for Porsche. So when that opportunity presented itself, I grabbed it.”
Jörg Bergmeister (Porsche 911 RSR #912) summarised his race, “Another banner day for Porsche. You can’t get much better than that. Unfortunately I lost a position at the start, but the 911 RSR improved as the race progressed, which enabled Earl to close the gap to the front. The second straight one-two for Porsche – it can continue like this.”
The ninth of ten races in the Tudor United SportsCar Championship is contested on 19 September on the Circuit of the Americas in Austin/Texas.
1. Pilet/Tandy (F/GB), Porsche 911 RSR, 92 laps
2. Bamber/Bergmeister (NZ/D), Porsche 911 RSR, 92
3. Kaffer/Fisichella (D/I), Ferrari F458 Italia, 92
4. Edwards/Luhr (USA/D), BMW Z4 GTE, 92
5. Auberlen/Werner (USA/D), BMW Z4 GTE, 92
6. Magnussen/Garcia (DK/E), Chevrolet Corvette, 92
7. Henzler/Sellers (D/USA), Porsche 911 RSR, 91
8. Gavin/Milner (GB/USA), Chevrolet Corvette, 91
1. Sweedler/Bell (USA/USA), Ferrari 458 Italia, 88 laps
2. Nielsen/Wittmer (DK/CDN), Aston Martin, 87
3. Farnbacher/James (D/USA), Porsche 911 GT America, 87
4. Palttala/Marsal (SF/USA), BMW Z4, 87
5. Haase/von Moltke (D/USA), Audi R8 LMS, 87
6. Keen/McNeil (USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT America, 87