Momo NGT Porsche 911 GT3 Cup wins GTC Laguna
Monterey, Calif. â€" Bryan Sellers (USA) and Wolf Henzler(Germany) started second on the grid in their Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, and ran first or second for the majority of the American Le Mans Monterey event today at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to finish second in the GT class.
Sellers, who placed the car on the front row of the grid for the four-hour event, led 47 minutes during the race as the team battled the Corvettes, BMWs, Ferraris and Vipers in the competitive class based on Le Mans GT rules.
â€œIt was a great day. To come away with second is fantastic, made possible by another one of those days where everything had to and did go right. The Falken Porsche guys made no mistakes in the pits and we were fast. Unfortunately, we didnâ€™t have enough pace to win, but itâ€™s a huge improvement here for us. Weâ€™re just really happy and really excited. Hopefully this means we have some really good prospects for the future. I think it means weâ€™re moving in the right direction,â€ said Sellers.
Co-driver Wolf Henzler, who drove the middle stint for the team, has seen the improvement of the Porsche at every event.
â€œGood job today for Team Falken Tire. Everybody can clearly see the team as a whole package is getting better and more competitive. This shows our testing really paid off during the off season. Mazda Raceway is not an easy track, and weâ€™ve always struggled in the past here. But this year we were so close,â€ said Henzler.
The other two Porsche GT teams also had good runs, but some on-track incidents and some bad luck kept them off the podium. The Bryce Miller (USA)/Marco Holzer (Germany) Paul Miller Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR was running as high as third place late in the race when an extra pit stop and pit lane speeding violation pushed them back to sixth place. Still, Marco Holzer was excited by the teamâ€™s performance.
â€œFor sure, the car in the race with the setup improved a lot compared to the day before. I donâ€™t know if I should be happy or a little bit disappointed because in the end we know we had a car for the podium for sure, 100%, and maybe to fight for first or second place. The team did a good job with the pit stops; we got good positions in the pit, but then I was a little bit unlucky with a stop and go penalty for speeding in the pits. The pit-speed limiter button was not in when I was leaving the pit stall, but I am happy to know that we have a car that we can drive to the podium. I am really looking forward to Lime Rock,â€ said Holzer.
Bryce Miller, whose father Paul raced Porsches in IMSA in the 1980s, and owns the car, is also ready for the rest of the season.
â€œThe car was so good, the crew did such a good job once again with their preparation and hats off to them for putting together such a strong car. Halfway through my stint we started a fuel conservation mode and it was hard to slow down as the car was so good. We really found the sweet spot here today. I think everybody knows we had a car that was podium worthy and maybe even one that could have fought for the win,â€ said Miller.
The CORE autosport Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, which started from the back of the pack, was punted off the track several times after starting driver Patrick Long (USA) passed half the GT field during his stint. The car slipped back to ninth place before Long and co-driver Tom Kimber-Smith (United Kingdom) clawed their way back for a seventh-place finish.
"I think, for all of us at CORE, it was a really hard day. We didnâ€™t come in with high expectations, but I think we all thought we were in for a good result. Basically, all we needed to do was finish the race, and we achieved that. But, between Patrick and I, we got hit about five or six times, so I think all credit goes to the crew for building, and to Porsche for providing a solid car. The hits werenâ€™t small, they were big hits,â€œ said Kimber-Smith.
â€œIâ€™m happy. We raced with teams that have been front runners for years. We ran through a bunch of pit stops, a bunch of strategy and finished the race. The things that set us back today were all out of our control. I got hit four times. We did exactly what we set out to do, which was to band together as a team. And, we battled back from adversity. Rome wasnâ€™t built in a day; we have to continue building after every single session. We had a great start. We were able to get right up to the back of the GT field and started going through them. Ultimately, what stopped our progress was getting spun out in the Corkscrew by one of the Ferraris. We had good speed in the car though and we know a few things we want to work on,â€œ said Long.
In the ALMS GTC class, the Momo NGT Porsche 911 GT3 Cup racer scored their fifth consecutive class podium dating back to last year, and its second straight win after Nick Tandy (GB) took the lead on the last lap with a pass four turns from the finish. Tandy, who took over for starting driver Henrique Cisneros (Venezuela), was elated with the narrow win.
"When you are fighting for position on the last lap, you have an advantage when you are the pursuer, and you can dictate the strategy and the car in front of you has to defend. There were about 12 cars within 12 feet of each other, but Andy Lally (Dempsey Del Piero Racing Porsche) knew I was coming, and I was able to get by him. Lally is a great driver, and we had a clean race all afternoon. This is a great victory for the Momo Porsche and NGT.
Henrique Cisneros pointed out that the team overcame two pit speed violations to win.
"We couldn't have asked for a better race, even though two pit speed violations put us down in the standings not once, but twice. The first time, I was able to drive to the front again before handing the car off the Nick, and the second time he did the same thing. And that last-lap pass - amazing. The Momo NGT Porsche now has five consecutive GTC podiums dating back to VIR last year, and two consecutive wins"
For Dempsey Del Piero Racing, the second place finish was a little disappointing, but the team is buoyed by the outcome.
â€œIt is nice, only my second race with Dempsey Del Piero and we have a pole and now we have a podium. We have one more step to climb up to achieve our big goal here of winning a race in GTC and we came so close today. It was a heartbreaker - I am bummed about it but Tandy got a run and somehow got under the GT Corvette before we even got on to the front straight. That put him on my rear bumper and he did a good job there. He made a move going into Turn 2, but I was able to come out with the lead there, but as we were going into Turn 4, I saw him pop to the inside. This was the confusing part for me because I did not realize a prototype in my blind spot coming off of his right rear made it three wide. As I turned in prepared to be two-wide with the 30, he backed out and the PC car came just barreling up the inside and it just punted me into the marbles. That moved me back to second and that was it, but I have to hand it to Tandy, he did a good job. I also have to give two big thanks to the team for keeping us in the race after going two laps down early and to Patrick who did what I think was the drive of his life. He had great lap times, didnâ€™t make a mistake, and did a great job to get it on the lead lap and then hand it to me. We put it in the lead and if we didnâ€™t have that late yellow this thing was ours,â€ said Lally.
For team owner Patrick Dempsey, the race provided a new feeling for his young motorsports career.
â€œI think it is probably the best race I have ever driven to come back from two laps down. We had the same wheel problem we had at Long Beach. We have to get that figured out, but we overcame that and battled back. I really worked hard, then Andy took over, he had his issues he had to deal with too, so it was all about really overcoming a boat-load of obstacles that were really out of our control. Everybody stayed calm, the crew did a great job with the pit stops and that helped us get back on the lead lap. Andy led for a long time, it was unfortunate that yellow came out with 10 minutes left, but it was a great battle. I am really excited about the team and I really feel we can win now. It is the first time ever for me racing that I know that I can win a race. To be out there running around with everybody today and coming back from the deficit we were in, there is no question that we can win races and a championship. That is the first time that I have felt that,â€ said Dempsey.
Complete qualifying results are available at www.alms.com.
High resolution photos of todayâ€™s practice and qualifying of Porsches at ALMS Long Beach are available at the following link:
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