Nick Tandy guides the No. 911 Porsche North America factory-entered 911 RSR during Saturday morning practice at Virginia International Raceway.
Alton, Virginia. Despite the challenge of working through the emotions of an accident that sent team driver Richard Lietz (Austria) to the hospital earlier in the day, the No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR qualified eighth for tomorrow's Oak Tree Grand Prix at Virginia International Raceway (VIR). As a result of the effort, the Porsche North America factory team has kept itself in strong contention in the hotly contested TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans class where the first eight positions on the grid were separated by less than one-half of a second in today's qualifying session. The Team Falken Tire customer Porsche 911 RSR qualified seventh.
The No. 911 entry did not make a qualifying attempt as a result of the practice session incident. Following the two-car accident, Lietz was sent to a nearby hospital for evaluation. It was determined the Porsche works driver had a fractured arm and will not race in Sunday afternoon's event.
Porsche 911 RSR
A total of 11 Porsche 911-based racecars will be running in tomorrow's combined GT classes-only race. Three of the most advanced 911s ever produced, the Porsche 911 RSR, will race in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class for overall honors. Eight Porsche 911 GT America's, also based on the seventh-generation of the iconic sports car, will run in the GT Daytona (GTD) category.
Michael Christensen (Denmark) took the No. 912 Porsche North America 911 RSR on track for the 15-minute GTLM qualifying session, and turned his fastest times of the weekend, qualifying in the eighth position. His best lap of one-minute, 44.422-seconds was less than one-half second from the pole in the car he will share with Patrick Long (Playa del Rey, California) tomorrow. Alongside him in the fourth row of the grid will be Bryan Sellers (Braselton, Georgia) and Wolf Henzler (Germany) in No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR. Sellers qualified at 1:44.322 for seventh position.
Following this morning's accident in turn three of the 3.27-mile, 17-turn VIR circuit, Richard Lietz was treated for a fractured arm at an area hospital and has been released. He will return home to Austria where he will undergo surgery.
The No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR Lietz was driving when he hit fluid and went off, was heavily damaged when the No. 3 Corvette also spun on the fluid and into Lietz' stationary car. That chassis will be replaced. The team is working diligently to have the car ready for Sunday's 4:05 ET green flag.
With Lietz out for the two-hour, 45-minute race, Christensen will start the No. 911 before relinquishing the seat to Nick Tandy (Great Britain), Lietz' full-season teammate. The Dane will then finish the Oak Tree Grand Prix in the No. 912 after Long's opening stint in the car.
Porsche 911 GT America
In the 15-minute GT Daytona (GTD) class qualifying, Leh Keen (Atlanta, Georgia), who was fastest in the last practice session, put his No. 22 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America in second position on the grid in the car he will share with Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Illinois). Keen was three-tenths of a second behind the pole-sitting Aston Martin. Keen and MacNeil are a mere three points out of first place in the GTD championship points chase. The Snow Racing Porsche 911 GT America qualified by Jan Heylen (Tampa, Florida) was fifth in the car he will share with Madison Snow (Lehi, Utah). The No. 23 Alex Job Racing Porsche qualified by Mario Farnbacher (Germany) was sixth in the entry he co-drives with Ian James (Phoenix, Arizona).
Owen Hayes, Porsche Motorsport North America, Director of Operations: "As a team, we were shaken up by the accident this morning with Richard. But, I am very proud of how well the program rallied, stayed focused and was able to put together a good qualifying effort for the 912-car. We had some damage on the No. 911 chassis that was not repairable. The Porsche 911 RSR was strong and did its job protecting the driver, but it has to be replaced. We will optimize what we have on location. We have to do a lot of work to get the backup 911 car ready but we will replace that chassis. We are in a very good position that we can indeed get the car ready by tomorrow. As regards to drivers, we'll have to do double duty with some; that means Nick Tandy and Michael Christensen will share the No. 911 Porsche North America entry."
Richard Lietz, Driver, No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR: "We were in the final practice and getting ready for the qualifying lap. I had two good laps and everything was normal. I came to the corner and the track was wet there. I spun off and hit the tire wall. Right after I stopped, the Corvette came and hit me on the driver side. That is what caused the injury. The hospital took good care of me here in Danville and now I will fly home and have surgery in Austria. I hope the best for the team and I will be watching closely."
Morgan Brady, Porsche North America Team Manager: "I think right now replacing the number 911 is a big undertaking, but it's manageable. Every time we show up at the race track, we're not just prepared to have two cars running well, but we're also prepared for any damage. That's thanks to a large inventory of spare parts from Porsche and the team's preparation of those parts so they're ready to bolt on the car. Right now we have a great team of men and women to get the car back on track tomorrow."
Michael Christensen, No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR: "It's a cool track that is both fast and slow. The track surface seems to be good without much degradation. It has a lot of elevation. It is quite hard to overtake here, but it is still fun to drive. My thoughts are now with Richard. It is good to hear that his injuries, while not simple, are not more serious. Tomorrow, I will go out and push hard for him in the No. 911 car."
Leh Keen, driver, No. 22 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America: "We are on the front row, I feel really good about that. This is the fourth front row start for us this year. But, most importantly, we are starting in front of some of the cars we are fighting against in the championship. I really only did two laps on these tires. We should be able to give Cooper [MacNeil] some good tires to start the race tomorrow. Everything is looking good. The guys have been doing a great job on the WeatherTech Porsche."
The Oak Tree Grand Prix can be seen live on FOX Sports 1 at 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT, Sunday, August 24. In-car camera footage from the No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR as well as live timing and scoring is available at www.IMSA.com.
GT Le Mans Qualifying Results
1. No. 62 Ferrari 458 Italia, Pierre Kaffer (Germany), 1:43.979
2. No. 55 BMW Z4 GTE, Bill Auberlen (USA), 1:44.053
3. No. 91 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R, Marc Goossens (Belgium), 1:44.072
4. No. 56 BMW Z4 GTE, Dirk Mueller (Switzerland), 1:44.076
5. No. 93 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R, Jonathan Bomarito (USA) 1:44.096
6. No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7-R, Antonio Garcia (Spain), 1:44.105
7. No. 17 Porsche 911 RSR, Bryan Sellers (USA), 1:44.322
8. No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR, Michael Christensen (Denmark), 1:44.422
GT Daytona Qualifying Results
1. No. 007 Aston Martin V12 Vantage, James Davison (Australia), 1:47.660
2. No. 22 Porsche 911 GT America , Leh Keen (USA), 1:47.957
3. No. 94 BMW Z4, Dane Cameron (USA), 1:48.043
4. No. 45 Audi RS LMS, Spencer Pumpelly (USA), 1:48.173
5. No. 58 Porsche 911 GT America, Jan Heylen (USA), 1:48.388
6. No. 23 Porsche 911 GT America, Mario Farnbacher (Germany), 1:48.405
7. No. 44 Porsche 911 GT America, Andy Lally (USA), 1:48.596
10. No. 81 Porsche 911 GT America, Damien Faulkner (Ireland), 1:48.725
12. No. 73 Porsche 911 GT America, Kevin Estre (France), 1:48.771
16. No. 18 Porsche 911 GT America, Mark Kvamme (USA), 1:55.663
17. No. 27 Porsche 911 GT America, No Driver, No Time
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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