Wolf Henzler and Bryan Sellers drove their No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR to a fine second-place finish overall at the Oak Tree Grand Prix at Virginia International Raceway. As a result, Porsche now leads the GT Le Mans manufacturer points for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
Alton, Virginia. The Porsche 911 RSR of Team Falken Tire earned an impressive second-place overall finish today in the Oak Tree Grand Prix. Without the prototype classes this weekend, Sunday's race was the first race held exclusively for the GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD) classes in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. Porsche factory driver Wolf Henzler (Germany) held the overall lead entering the last lap, narrowly missing the victory. The Porsche North America factory effort had a more challenging day finishing eighth with the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR and tenth with the No. 911 entry. With Team Falken Tire's podium result, Porsche now leads the GTLM Manufacturer point standings with two races remaining in the season.
Porsche 911 RSR
While fast all weekend, the No. 17 Team Falken Tire entry driven by Henzler and Bryan Sellers (Braselton, Georgia) focused on fuel strategy to put the car in the position to win. Sellers opened the race running near the top-five before relinquishing the iconic, rear-engined Porsche 911 RSR to longtime teammate Henzler. With fuel conservation in mind for the full race, the No. 17 was able to use a late race yellow flag to remove all doubt they could reach the finish line. Henzler, leading as a result of other cars pitting for fuel, held off multiple attacks by the No. 62 Ferrari F458 Italia. On the final lap, the red machine passed the Falken-entry and was able to hold on to the top spot at the end. Henzler crossed the line in a close second, the best finish for the team in 2014, earning valuable manufacturer points
The story of Porsche North America's weekend centered around the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR. The works effort was looking strong entering the weekend but an accident on Saturday morning would force them into a newly rebuilt car for today's race. Even more challenging than rebuilding the racecar overnight was the injury to factory driver Richard Lietz. The Austrian suffered a fractured left upper arm in the two-car accident and was unable to continue driving this weekend. After visiting his teammates at the track this morning, Lietz has returned home for surgery.
With the car prepared in time for the early morning warm-up, Michael Christensen (Denmark) was drafted into driving both Porsche North America entries in the race. By using a rebuilt car, the No. 911 was forced to start at the back of the GTLM and GTD combined field with Nick Tandy behind the wheel for the opening stint. Adding insult to injury, the native of Great Britain was penalized for jumping the start of the two-hour, 45-minute race, and later drove the car off and back on the track while pushing to make his way to the front.
Christensen started the No. 912 and was prepared to take the checkered flag in the team's No. 911. However, an ongoing engine issue - which first reared its head at the one-hour, 45-minute mark dropping Tandy from second-place - would sideline the No. 911 with 19 minutes remaining while Christensen was behind the wheel. The car was classified 10th in GTLM.
The saga of the No. 912 revolved around the No. 911 with Christensen replacing the injured Lietz. The first-year Porsche factory driver started the No. 912 handing the wheel over to Patrick Long (Playa del Rey, California) just one hour into the race before making his way to the No. 911. Long, the only American Porsche factory driver, was embroiled in a hard battle around the 3.27-mile track suffering right rear wheel and bodywork damage during his stint. While he was able to continue, with right rear suspension damage the team elected a fuel conservation strategy as opposed to outright speed. The No. 912 would finish eighth on the day.
Porsche now holds a narrow lead in the GTLM Manufacturer point standings with two events remaining.
Porsche 911 GT America
The GT-only weekend format was popular with the GT Daytona (GTD) competitors. And like the GTLM category, the championship battles tightened into a five-way tie between Porsche, BMW and Ferrari entrants going into the last two races of the season. Perhaps the best story for the Porsche 911 GT America contingent, however, was the first podium finish of the season for the No. 27 Dempsey Racing Porsche of Patrick Dempsey (Malibu, California) and Andrew Davis (Athens, Georgia). Davis was among the fastest in the GTD class during Friday's practice sessions. However, on Saturday, the No. 27 slid on fluid on the track, hitting the tire barrier and damaging the rear of the car. The damage was repairable but not in time for qualifying forcing the team to start at the back of the pack. Dempsey had a particularly strong first stint and with clean pit stops and driver change, Davis was able to bring the car home in third place. Racing a newly rebuilt car from last on the grid to the podium was a testimony to the entire team effort at Dempsey Racing as well as the ready availability of Porsche parts and expertise on-site at the track.
Leh Keen (Atlanta, Georgia) and Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Illinois) came into the weekend three points out of first place in the point standings. Their fifth place finish in the No. 22 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America put them into the five-way tie in GT Daytona Driver Championship with the two No. 555 Ferrari drivers and one of the No. 94 BMW racers with two events remaining. Not out of the points chase is also the No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT America of John Potter (Salt Lake City, Utah) and Andy Lally (Dacula, Georgia), who finished sixth, and Jan Heylen (Tampa, Florida) and Madison Snow (Lehi, Utah), whose Snow Racing/Dempsey Racing Porsche was eighth. Heylen led the race for most of the first 45 minutes, but some unfortunate yellow flags negated their fuel stop strategy. Rounding out the top ten was the No. 81 GB Autosport Porsche 911 GT America of Damien Faulkner (Ireland) and Michael Lewis (Laguna Beach, California), who also led the race for a short while until they were similarly caught out with yellow flag issues and on-track contact, ending in tenth.
The Tudor Championship travels to Austin, Texas next for the Lone Star Le Mans at the Circuit of the Americas on September 20.
Owen Hayes, Director of Operations, Porsche Motorsport North America: "I am really proud of the performance Porsche North America put together. Even though the results aren't there, we showed, as one team, all working together, what we can accomplish. We had an engine cutout issue throughout the race and, unfortunately, we had to turn off the engine in the No. 911 before it became a bigger issue. We really showed our strength as a team this race weekend. I hope we can do that to prove to Richard when he returns that we will make the next step up.
The result is fantastic for Falken Tire. We are trying our best and they are trying their best. Any result like that is well deserved and it is hard fought for. They dig so deep. The tenacity they used to win Petit Le Mans last year is what they used here today; congratulations to them."
Wolf Henzler, No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR: "Sometimes you have to take a chance. Second-place is like a win for Team Falken Tire after struggling this year. The race was very tough. Obviously, we were on a different pit strategy than the others. We decided to stay out and save fuel for awhile but then we realized we were not going to make it. Luckily, the safety car came out and we knew we could stop saving fuel. It was so hard the last few laps to keep Giancarlo [Fisichella] behind me but finally I couldn't any longer. For sure, I was fighting hard And now we are looking forward."
Bryan Sellers, No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR: "It is a really great result for Team Falken Tire. We were strong all weekend and it is a good way to cap it off for us. Wolf drove phenomenal. The Ferrari is a very good car with good drivers in it. We just couldn't keep them behind but it wasn't for a lack of effort. It's great to team with a guy like Wolf because the one thing you never worry about is a missed opportunity. The Falken guys were great and it was almost exactly what we were hoping for."
Michael Christensen, Nos. 911 and 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR: "I was hit from the rear on the first lap and we both went into the grass and the whole field went by. The 912 car was very good and had good pace but unfortunately it was not able to get a good result. Both cars were pretty similar. I had done the warm-up in the number 911 so I knew what I was getting into. Nick and I also did some pit stop practice so everything was very well prepared. The stint in the No. 911 was a shame. What it was we do not know yet but it was something that caused a loss of power. In the end we had to stop the car. It was very frustrating because I could feel the car was very good."
Patrick Long, No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR: "I feel bad because we had good pace today but it just didn't come together. We made contact with the Corvette. It was one of those racing deals. Unfortunately, we had a bent right rear suspension as a result. We then decided to try and conserve fuel and stay out of other people's races. Congratulations to Falken for running really hard and getting valuable manufacturer points."
Nick Tandy, No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR: "We knew we had to make something happen early so from the start I was pushing to make things happen. We got the drive-through penalty and I went off so that plan backfired, but fortunately we got the caution. We caught the back of the GTLM pack and the race started for us at the point. It is incredible how good the car was considering it was built overnight. All credit to the guys at Porsche North America. I think we had the best car in the race once again to the point that, without the issues at the end of the engine cutting out, we could have been a favorite for the victory. I'd say to Richie don't worry about missing this one, we'll get them next time."
Patrick Dempsey, No. 27 Dempsey Racing Porsche 911 GT America: "Since crew chief John Wright has joined our organization, everything at Dempsey Racing has improved. Our chemistry and teamwork were tested yesterday when I went off the track and damaged the car. Everyone put their head down and worked tirelessly to get us back on the track, and it was up to Andrew and I to reward them with a good finish. Our podium is that reward, and against the best competition in the world, I am particularly humbled to be standing here with a third place finish. The Porsche was great and fun to drive today, with predictable braking and handling, and we didn't make any mistakes. And this track is great."
Andrew Davis, No. 27 Dempsey Racing Porsche 911 GT America: "We have waited all season to be able to spray champagne on the podium with our competition, knowing that we earned a top-three finish. After what could have been a weekend-ending off-track excursion, the crew rose to the occasion, never letting up until they were convinced the car was perfect again and ready to race. And then it was up to Patrick and me to deliver the goods. It was hard racing, but we had clean pit stops and made good driving decisions. I had my old teammate Leh Keen behind me, and I knew Leh can run hard, so I had to keep pushing to secure our third place finish."
Leh Keen, No. 22 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America: "What I think we learned in the race today is we have a really strong car in clean air. I was really good in the low speed stuff and could get right up on them. But, the fast corner leading up to the front straight, we fell back a bit. I really felt like we could have been on the podium today. We had another top five and I think we had another decent points day. We've got two races left and are tied for first place, so we have a real shot at the championship."
John Potter, No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT America: "Of course we're only happy when we can walk away with some hardware, but everyone put in 100 percent effort. We had a few strong showings in practice, and we thought we might have quite a shot this weekend, but it just wasn't meant to be. We all want to wish the best for Richard Lietz, who was part of our team during our first race, and has been an honorary member ever since. Hopefully he recovers quickly and we can see him back out there soon."
Andy Lally, No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT America: "Sixth is an improvement from the last few races, but still not quite where we'd like to see ourselves. We showed some real strength in practice, and if the strategy had played a little different it might have been a really good day for us. Regardless, the guys did a great job as always. We're pretty much now just focusing on race wins, so that should be fun."
Damien Faulkner, No. 81 GB Autosport Porsche 911 GT America: "It's frustrating because I just couldn't hold the BMW back when we took the lead. Then the Ferrari got alongside me and took my door mirror off. And it's very difficult when you have no mirror so I had to push really hard to try to maintain some run of a gap so I could stay potentially out of an incident. We persevered and slowly got overtaken by more people and that was just due to the tire being flat spotted. In the end we had to pit for fuel anyway. The stars didn't align today."
Michael Lewis, No. 81 GB Autosport Porsche 911 GT America: "To get the opportunity to run for GB Autosport in this race was pretty rad! I just tried to hand it off to Damien [Faulkner] as high as I could. I am definitely new to this style of racing and the guys out there were going a little bit harder than I am used to so I had to watch out. But once I picked up how to fight back, I felt like I could take it to them. The lap times of the Tully's Porsche were really good though, and Damien put in some of the fastest lap times of the race. So a big thanks to GB Autosport and the whole Tully's team for giving me my first opportunity in this series."
GT Le Mans Results
1. No. 62 Pierre Kaffer (Germany)/Giancarlo Fisichella (Italy), Ferrari 458 Italia - 82 laps
2. No. 17 Wolf Henzler (Germany)/Bryan Sellers (USA), Porsche 911 RSR - 82 laps
3. No. 56 Dirk Mueller (Switzerland)/Jonathan Edwards (USA), BMW Z4 GTE - 82 laps
4. No. 55 Bill Auberlin (USA)/Andy Priaulx (Normandy/France)
5. No. 93 Jonathan Bomarito (USA)/Kuno Wittmer (Canada), Dodge Viper SRT - 82 laps
6. No. 91 Marc Goossens (Belgium)/Dominik Farnbacher (Germany), Dodge Viper SRT - 82 laps
8. No. 912 Patrick Long (USA)/Michael Christensen (Denmark), Porsche 911 RSR - 81 laps
10. No. 911 Nick Tandy (Great Britain)/Michael Christensen (Denmark), Porsche 911 RSR - 72 laps
GT Daytona Results
1. No. 94 Dane Cameron (USA)/Markus Palttala (Finland) BMW Z4 - 82 laps
2. No. 63 Allesandro Balzan (Italy)/Jeff Westphal (USA) - 82 laps
3. No. 27 Patrick Dempsey (USA.)/Andrew Davis (USA) Porsche 911 GT America - 82 laps
4. No. Chistopher Haase (Germany)/Bryce Miller (USA) Audi RS LMS - 82 laps
5. No. 22 Cooper MacNeil (USA)/Leh Keen (USA), Porsche 911 GT America - 82 laps
6. No. 44 John Potter (USA)/Andy Lally (USA), Porsche 911 GT America - 82 laps
9. No. 58 Jan Heylen (USA)/Madison Snow (USA), Porsche 911 GT America - 82 laps
10. No. 81 Damien Faulkner (Ireland)/Michael Lewis (USA), Porsche 911 GT America - 82 laps
14. No. 18 Mark Kvamme (USA)/Corey Lewis (USA), Porsche 911 GT America - 79 laps
15. No. 23 Ian James (USA), Mario Farnbacher (Germany), Porsche 911 GT America - 73 laps
17. No. 73 Patrick Lindsey (USA)/Kevin Estre (France), 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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