Nick Tandy, Owen Hayes, and Richard Lietz (left to right) accept the IMSA Green Challenge trophy in the GT Le Mans class for the most efficient race car at Road America.
Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Today's Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America was the first event for the new Adjustment of Performance (AoP) package for the Porsche 911 RSR. With no previous on-track testing time with the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship rules package, the works program used the weekend to learn and, in the process, earned a fifth-place finish in class. The race proved a strong testing environment for the team with significant balancing of the field being seen against most of the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class competition. All three Porsche 911 RSRs entered at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin raced in the top five during the two-hour, 45-minute event. Ultimately, the best finishing position was the No. 912 Porsche North America factory entry in fifth. Its sister car finished tenth.
Porsche 911 RSR
Porsche Motorsports entered the weekend with a steep learning curve. After winning the first two races of the season on high-speed, low-downforce tracks, the classic rear-engine Porsche struggled against its competition on tracks which demand high-downforce configurations. IMSA, the rules-maker for the Tudor Championship, sought to level the playing field against other cars in the production car-derived series which gains its core rules from the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The current Adjustment of Performance allows the seventh-generation Porsche 911 a bigger front splitter, revised rear wing and larger air restrictor. Today's eighth round of the championship was the first opportunity Porsche had to test the combination on-track. As a result, the weekend's practice sessions, and even today's race, was focused on learning the new performance characteristics of the car.
The No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR, driven by Patrick Long (Playa del Rey, California) and Michael Christensen (Denmark), challenged late for a podium position but would eventually finish fifth. The team's attempt at returning to victory lane was made all the more impressive after the car spun on the second lap of the race. Long and Christensen fought back to run as high as third with 20-minutes remaining. Despite a valiant effort, they were passed twice in the closing stages but held on for the top-five result.
The No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR also showed speed with Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and Richard Lietz (Austria). Despite starting back in the order, the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona-winning team raced to the front of field leading near the race's midpoint. However, a penalty for hitting a competitor's wheel on their final pit stop forced them to return to pit lane to stop for 20 seconds in the "penalty box". The team would finish tenth.
The No. 911 did win the "IMSA Green Challenge" for the most efficient run in today's race. The award is given to the team that, in the simplest terms, is able to travel the furthest, the fastest on the least amount of fuel. Porsche previously won the award at the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Just ahead of the No. 911 in ninth-place was the sole customer-prepared Porsche 911 RSR in the class. The No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR jumped four spots on the car's first pit stop to run second. However, after the impressive pit work and strong drives by both Porsche factory driver Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Braselton, Georgia's Bryan Sellers, the privateer entrant fell to ninth in the factory program-heavy class at the finish.
Porsche 911 GT America
The No. 22 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America, with Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Illinois) and Leh Keen (Atlanta, Georgia) at the wheel, used the five yellow flags of today's race to their advantage. The combination finished second in the GT Daytona (GTD) class, and move into first place in the points standings with only three events remaining. The team hits its mark in meeting its fuel stop and driver change pit strategy, and, except for an early-lap spin, both drivers avoided contact in a race where contact with another car seemed to be the norm. Near the end of the race, with the two restarts in the last 15 minutes, Keen might have had a run at the eventual BMW class winner, but the second place points were more important than taking a gamble and risk going off the track. It was the pair's sixth top-five finish but first podium of 2014, resulting in their best finish of the year.
Madison Snow (Lehi, Utah) and Jan Heylen (Tampa, Florida) matched their best finish of the season also by piloting the No. 58 Snow Racing Porsche 911 GT America to a third-place finish, holding off the GTD class Dodge Viper SRT on the last lap. Ian James (Phoenix, Arizona) and Mario Farnbacher (Germany) ran in the top four most of the day in their No. 23 Alex Job Racing Porsche, but finished sixth after the flurry of yellow flags and restarts at the end. Despite several mechanical issues and on-track procedure penalties, the No. 73 Park Place Porsche of Patrick Lindsey (Santa Barbara, California) and Kevin Estre (France) closed the day in tenth.
Owen Hayes, Director of Operations, Porsche Motorsport North America: "We had some good pace today but, unfortunately, we had a penalty. That's racing. We were in a strong position in the beginning but that is the way it went. We were testing at the racetrack with these components. I think we really improved over the race weekend. We are not pleased with the results, obviously, but we see more promise with the pace. We will continue to work to improve upon that a little bit more."
Patrick Long, Driver, No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR: "The car was really good at the start on cold tires. Early in the race we were pressuring Auberlen [No. 55 BMW] for third and it was side-by-side and I got put up over the curb. It was either going to be damage for two cars or a spin for one and we got the short end of that deal. The team kept us right in it with strategy and the speed of the car was good. We were able to battle back. We didn't have the straight line speed today and we had to yield to the Viper in the end."
Michael Christensen, Driver, No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR: "I think we are faster in terms of lap time. The car has been optimized in terms of balance but there is still work to do. With so many restarts during my stint, I tried to prepare as much as possible in terms of warming up the tires and being ready with the car. It was an opportunity for us to attack the slower cars and to move forward and to defend myself. We were successful with that."
Richard Lietz, Driver, No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR: "The balance of the car was good in the race. We had the pace to follow the others. The negative is that I touched a Corvette's tire leaving the pits. It was just a brush but it was enough to give the penalty. A penalty at the end of the race just puts you back and you have no chance to make it up. The car was good and I am looking forward to Virginia."
Nick Tandy, Driver, No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR: "The car was really good. We tried something a little bit different for the race and it seemed to work really well. When we took the lead, we were fighting with the Viper and caught traffic and I managed to anticipate what was going to happen ahead better than the car in front. I was able to get past the Viper and the slower traffic. That gave us a very good gap. It was a good race. We seem to be getting a better understanding to how the new package is working. That is a good step towards the future."
Leh Keen, Driver, No. 22 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America: "It feels really good to get up on the podium, especially when all the GTD points contenders finished behind us. I can't say enough about the Alex Job Racing team and their pit stops today. Cooper had a great start to the race and had us up in contention. In the middle of my first run I felt the car losing grip, so I came in and the guys put a new set of Continentals on the car and got me out in third place. The car was totally hooked-up after that stop. I was able to make a move and get second position. We have gained a lot of points in the last five races, just chipping away at the points lead of that Ferrari, finally passing them today. We now have a podium and some great momentum going into the last three races of the season."
North America's premier sports car racing series now travels south to Danville, Virginia, site of the two-hour, 45-minute Oak Tree Grand Prix at Virginia International Raceway. The race, which will see only the GTLM, GTD and PC categories competing, will take place Sunday, August 24.
GT Le Mans Results
1. No. 62 Pierre Kaffer (Germany)/Giancarlo Fisichella (Italy), Ferrari 458 Italia - 61 laps
2. No. 56 Dirk Mueller (Switzerland)/Jonathan Edwards (USA), BMW Z4 GTE - 61 laps
3. No. 93 Jonathan Bomarito (USA)/Kuno Whittmer (Canada), Dodge Viper SRT - 61 laps
4. No. 91 Marc Goossens (Belgium)/Dominik Farnbacher (Germany), Dodge Viper SRT - 61 laps
5. No. 912 Patrick Long (USA)/Michael Christensen (Denmark), Porsche 911 RSR - 61 laps
6. No. 3 Jan Magnussen (Denmark)/Antonio Garcia (Spain), Corvette C-7R - 61 laps
9. No. 17 Wolf Henzler (Germany)/Bryan Sellers (USA), Porsche 911 RSR - 61 laps
10. No. 911 Nick Tandy (Great Britain)/Richard Lietz (Austria), Porsche 911 RSR - 61 laps
GT Daytona Results
1. No. 94 Dane Cameron (USA)/Markus Palttala (Finland) BMW Z4 - 59 laps
2. No. 22 Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.)/Leh Keen (USA), Porsche 911 GT America - 59 laps
3. No. 58 Jan Heylen (USA)Madison Snow (USA), Porsche 911 GT America - 59 laps
4. No. 33 Jeroen Bleekemolen (Netherlands)/Ben Keating (USA), SRT Viper GT3-R - 59 laps
5. No. 555 Townsend Bell (USA)/Bill Sweedler (USA), Ferrari 458 Italia - 59 laps
6. No. 23 Ian James (USA), Mario Farnbacher (Germany), Porsche 911 GT America - 59 laps
10. No. 73 Patrick Lindsey (USA)/Kevin Estre (France), Porsche 911 GT America - 59 laps
12. No. 81 Damien Faulkner (Ireland)/Matt Bell (USA), Porsche 911 GT America - 57 laps
13. No. 27 Patrick Dempsey (USA.)/Andrew Davis (USA) Porsche 911 GT America - 50 laps
14. No. 44 John Potter (USA)/Andy Lally (USA), Porsche 911 GT America - 43 laps
About Porsche Motorsport North America
Porsche Motorsport North America (PMNA), located in Santa Ana, California, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Porsche AG and the sole sales and service provider for the German sports car maker's North American customer sports programs. Porsche is the largest manufacturer of race cars with a wide range of products from the 911 GT3 Cup car to the ultimate 911 RSR. PMNA sells these models to customer teams in North America and provides them with parts, service and expertise in between races and at the track. The PMNA service truck is a fixture at most race tracks in the U.S. and Canada, staffed by factory engineers to service all of Porsche's customer teams.
About Porsche Cars North America
Porsche Cars North America, Inc. (PCNA), based in Atlanta, Ga. is the exclusive U.S. importer of Porsche sports cars, including the Macan and Cayenne SUVs and the Panamera sports sedan. Established in 1984, it is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Porsche AG, which is headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, and employs approximately 270 people who provide parts, service, marketing and training for 189 dealers. They, in turn, work to provide Porsche customers with a best-in-class experience that is in keeping with the brand's 66-year history and leadership in the advancement of vehicle performance, safety, and efficiency.
At the core of this success is Porsche's proud racing heritage that boasts some 30,000 motorsport wins to date.
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