December 13, 2016
Early each week, Porsche Cars North America will provide a weekend summary or pre-race event notes package, covering the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Pirelli World Challenge (PWC), the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) or other areas of interest from the world of Porsche Motorsport. Please utilize this resource as needed, and do not hesitate to contact us for additional information.
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Porsche Motorsports Weekly Event Notes: Tuesday, December 13, 2016
|IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
||Official Pre-Season Test Session, Daytona International Speedway
||Daytona Beach, Florida
||Tuesday - Wednesday, December 13-14
||GTLM (Porsche 911 RSR)
||GTD (Porsche 911 GT3 R)
||Roar Before the 24, Daytona International Speedway, January 6-8, 2017
Event Story Lines
Porsche Podium in 2016 Finale. 911 GT3 R Closes Out Debut Season with Second-Place at Sepang 12-Hour.
The 2016 motorsport season ended successfully for Porsche with a podium finish in the 12 Hours of Sepang. With a spectacular charge through the field in torrential rain at the Sepang International Circuit, Porsche works drivers Earl Bamber (New Zealand), Patrick Pilet (France) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain) secured second-place with the Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by Manthey Racing. Over a long stretch, their teammates Richard Lietz (Austria), Michael Christensen (Denmark) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France) were also on track for a podium spot with the 500 hp customer sports racer from Weissach, Germany. Ultimately, they clinched fifth-place at the final round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge series.
In hot and humid weather, Lietz started from pole position in Asia's most important long distance race. However, the Austrian, who last year won the FIA World Endurance Cup as the most successful GT driver, was beaten off the line by Bamber. The 2015 overall Le Mans winner had taken up the race from directly behind his teammate on the third grid spot. This did not stop him from winning the sprint to the first corner and snatching the lead position in a top-class field of cars of 13 manufacturers. Bamber has lived in Malaysia for many years and has contested many races in Asia, making the 3.44-mile Grand Prix circuit on the outskirts of the capital Kuala Lumpur practically his home track.
After taking the wheel of the No. 912 contender from Lietz, Makowiecki used the restart after the first safety car phase an hour into the race to maneuver himself into second-place. The No. 911 car continued to defend the lead spot, now with Tandy at the wheel, who had won Le Mans with Bamber. Later, the two 911 GT3 Rs treated spectators to a dramatic fight against the best Ferrari. When heavy rain set in after four-and-a-half hours of racing, they lost their one-two positions during the pit stop and while switching to wet-weather tires. After five hours, the No. 911 was sitting second, with the No. 912 on fourth.
Following another safety car phase with two hours to go, Bamber launched a charge through the pack, carving his way through traffic and the wet conditions netting another podium result for Porsche at the final race of the season.
The 911 GT3 R was designed in Weissach, Germany for worldwide GT3 series and is based on the Porsche 911 GT3 RS production sports car. The maiden race outing of the Porsche 911 GT3 R featuring the new, ultra-modern four-liter flat-six engine with direct fuel injection was the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January. The entry, headed by North America's only Porsche factory driver Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California), finished second in its debut. The second-place finish at Sepang wraps a year that included victories in the IMSA WeatherTech SporstCar Championship, the Pirelli World Challenge and success in the Nürburgring VLN Long Distance Championship on the demanding Nordschleife circuit in Germany.
Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport.
"This was a race of highs and lows in very difficult weather conditions. Initially, we had a bit of a problem getting our wet tires to really work. Once we got to grips with that the performance was there immediately. After the safety car phase, Earl put in a commanding drive to second-place. That was really great. Although we were a little unlucky with the caution phases, all in all it was a good race."
Earl Bamber, Driver, No. 911 Porsche 911 GT3 R.
"This was our first time competing in Sepang and initially we had to get used to the many different conditions - and also to the fact that the weather forecast wasn't quite as reliable as in Europe or the USA. What's more, even if it's damp, you can drive almost as fast on slicks as on rain tires here, because even when it rains the asphalt hardly cools at all. Still, the last race of the year was a great experience."
Nick Tandy, Driver, No. 911 Porsche 911 GT3 R.
"Our 911 GT3 R performed very strongly in both dry and wet conditions. We were able to post very quick lap times. However, the changing conditions posed problems. That's where we lost time."
Richard Lietz, Driver, No. 912 Porsche 911 GT3 R.
"All of my four stints were super, the 911 GT3 R ran really well on this track. It was better to drive on used tires than fresh ones - we had worked on this during practice. Overtaking here was very difficult because everyone was using ABS here and hence they could brake a lot later. The only thing that didn't fit for us was the result."
Michael Christensen, Driver, No. 912 Porsche 911 GT3 R.
"That was a tough race. In fact, nothing ran as we'd imagined. Unfortunately, our strategy didn't always work. We were in the pits twice under green, both times just before the caution phase, which our competitors then used to their advantage. We couldn't make up the lost time."
Frédéric Makowiecki, Driver, No. 912 Porsche 911 GT3 R.
"On a dry racetrack we did very well with the 911 GT3 R and were in a position to fight for the lead. But when it began to rain we had a bit of bad luck with our pit stop, which came just before a safety car phase. We lost an entire lap because of that. Having to change the brakes cost us another lap. It just wasn't our day today, but for Porsche it was a successful conclusion to the season."
Park Place Getting the Band Back Together. Bergmeister, McMurry and Lindsey Back for 2017 IMSA Season.
Park Place Motorsports will return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the No. 73 Porsche 911 GT3 R with Porsche Factory Driver Jörg Bergmeister, 2016 Porsche Young Driver Academy participant Matt McMurry and Team Principal/driver Patrick Lindsey.
Bergmeister and Lindsey will represent Park Place Motorsports in all 12 WeatherTech Championship races of the 2017 season with McMurry being brought in for each of the four Tequila Patròn North American Endurance Cup races.
The trio was brought together in 2016 for a season of challenges and success that included two, second-place finishes; one at Detroit Belle Isle, the other being Road America. Park Place Motorsports garnered five top-ten finishes overall. Both Lindsey and McMurry had standout qualifying performances. Lindsey scored a second-place starting position in Detroit while McMurry, 19, blew seasoned professionals away at Road Atlanta with his second-place qualifying effort. To note, McMurry was the highest qualifying Porsche driver at Petit Le Mans.
Patrick Lindsey, Driver/Team Principal, No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
"Having the same drivers in the car allows you to continue where you left off and build rather than begin again. That will be somewhat of an advantage as the GTD class has a few new entrants this year. I believed we could accomplish a lot last year, and we didn't necessarily hit the marks we wanted. But I'll set my hopes equally as high, if not higher, this year because I know we have a crew and lineup that is set to achieve."
Jörg Bergmeister, Driver, No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
"We grew together as a team pretty well towards the end of the year. We ran smoothly after, what you could call, a rough start to the season. We have unfinished business, not only in championship standings but hopefully we can add a couple wins during the season. Overall, I would say we have all the ingredients along with more experience with the car to pull it off. Therefore, I look forward to the season this year. I enjoy the atmosphere and having the ability to really work with John (Horton) and Patrick on driving and setup."
Matt McMurry, Driver, No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
"I was invited to the Porsche Young Driver's Academy so I have my list of things I can work on this year. I think the number one thing I need to work on is to be fast immediately. I can work up to a good pace but it usually takes me too long to get up to speed. I need to be as fast as all the other pros in practice one rather than by qualifying."
Henzler Back with TRG. California-Team Reveals Powerful Rolex 24 Lineup.
The Racers Group announced its driver lineup for this year's running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The team revealed that Porsche factory driver Wolf Henzler (Germany) would head-up the TRG squad for the entire IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTD season - including the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup. Henzler is joined by top sportscar drivers Jan Heylen (Belgium), Derek DeBoer (Ashland, Oregon), Santiago Creel (Mexico) and Pablo Sánchez (Mexico), who will race with the Porsche 911 GT3 R for the 2017 Daytona event.
TRG has one of the most storied histories of success at Daytona, with more consecutive appearances than any other team in its class, earning 13 podiums and four wins with Porsche - including once overall. Team CEO, Kevin Buckler, is known for his drive and race strategy.
Henzler's history with the Porsche marque underlines the value of his addition to the Californian race team. With five 24 Hours at Daytona appearances - including a pole position and a win - and nearly ten showings at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, his confirmation as a full-season TRG driver is one more step towards a successful 2017 championship run. Henzler raced both the 911 RSR and the 911 GT3 R in 2016, and will contribute his well-honed skills and Porsche racing knowledge to kick off the team's GTD campaign.
Heylen joins the team for his sixth 24 Hours at Daytona and his first with TRG. In 2015, he competed in the endurance event with Dempsey/Wright Motorsports, taking third-place in the GTD class with a Porsche 911 GT America.
Popular sportscar racing personality and professional TRG driver Derek DeBoer last competed at Daytona with Kevin Buckler-led team in 2015. His career has skyrocketed in the past season, taking multiple podiums and a win with the team's Aston Martin and Lamborghini programs. Earning a seat in TRG's return to this race weekend with the Porsche brand further cements his partnership as a star driver and well-regarded ambassador for the team.
Santiago Creel returns to race this 24-hour event with TRG for the second year in a row. Creel is a longtime Porsche pilot, racing in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup plus the Pirelli World Challenge.
Creel is joined by fellow Mexican driver Pablo Sánchez, who also has experience racing with Porsche. After moving up the ranks with wins in the International Formula Masters and the Italian Formula 3 Championship, he continued on to race in Formula Renault 3.5, GP3, the American Le Mans series, and Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup.
Kevin Buckler, Team Principal, TRG.
"This just tops-off our awesome 'full-circle' return with Porsche starting at Daytona. Having Wolf back is fantastic after his solid three-year run with us from 2010, 2011, and 2012 that resulted in two podiums and a victory for the team. He is the absolute perfect soldier with all of the necessary ingredients for winning a championship, and we are proud to have him on board for the entire season as our lead driver. His experience with Porsche, TRG, IMSA, the tracks and even with the other competitors will benefit us immensely with solid communication and strategy all year long.
A big thank you to Porsche Motorsports for the show of faith they have put in us here with assigning Wolf to our squad. Our history at Daytona with Porsche is unmatched and we are coming here to repeat and to run down a championship. Their support both on and off the track is unmatched in the paddock and I would not want to be in any other car especially starting at Daytona.
"This has got to be the most competitive GT field I have ever seen anywhere. Great teams, drivers and terrific competition. There will be eight or nine manufacturers and several full factory teams hiding here in GTD. Bring it: We are ready!"
Wolf Henzler, Driver, TRG Porsche 911 GT3 R.
"I was thrilled when I heard about TRG being back with a Porsche in the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship and that I will be one of the drivers in their brand-new 911 GT3 R. I've had a lot of success with the team when I raced for them at Daytona. In 2010 we finished 3rd in GT, in 2011 we finished 1st in GT, and 2nd in GT the following year by only 9 seconds! I'm proud to be part of Kevin Buckler's team in 2017. He is doing an amazing job and has an awesome team at TRG. TRG knows very well what it needs to have a winning car on the track. Finally, I'm glad the Roar at Daytona is not so far away, because I can't wait to sit in the new car."
Jan Heylen, Driver, TRG Porsche 911 GT3 R.
"I know Kevin's track record at Daytona and I'm confident that we can do well. I'll be driving next to Wolf Henzler, who I've worked with in the past and is a very close friend of mine. The last two times I did Daytona, we finished on the podium but never on the top step - so hopefully this time around we can do just a little better and get that watch."
Long 24 with CORE. New 911 GT3 R Team Adds Works Driver and Jönsson to Rolex 24 Lineup.
CORE autosport has completed its driver lineup for the 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California) and Nic Jönsson (Buford, Georgia) will join Jon Bennett (Charlotte, North Carolina) and Colin Braun (Harrisburg, North Carolina) in the No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 R for the team's first attempt at the 24-hour spectacle in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship's GT Daytona (GTD) category.
Long is no stranger to CORE autosport, having partnered with both Braun and Tom Kimber-Smith in a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR for CORE's 2013 GT effort in the American Le Mans Series. Porsche's only American factory driver brings with him 14 years of Porsche experience, including a victory and three podiums at the Rolex 24.
For all Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup races (Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen, Petit Le Mans), Jönsson will serve as CORE's third driver. Jönsson has nearly two decades of professional sports car racing under his belt. His resume includes the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, Rolex Sports Car Series, American Le Mans Series and World Endurance Championship. The Swede has finished on the podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times and earned class victories at Sebring and Petit Le Mans.
Long and Jönsson will get their first seat time in the No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 R at the Roar Before the 24, January 6-8. It will be the final test before the 2017 race season kicks off in earnest with the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Patrick Long, Driver, No. 54 CORE autosport Porsche 911 GT3 R.
"It's great to be back with CORE autosport. I feel we have a special past together and rejoining them for their first race in the GT3 R has a special connection to the first time we rolled out as a team in the 911 RSR at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 2013.
There is some heavy competition in this year's GTD class, but I have huge respect and confidence in the program Jon Bennett and Morgan Brady have put together and I know there will be no punches pulled leading up to the start of this year's Rolex 24."
Nic Jönsson, Driver, No. 54 CORE autosport Porsche 911 GT3 R.
"I'm very excited to have the opportunity to be a part of CORE autosport for the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup in their new Porsche GT3 car. I'm very thankful to both Team Manager Morgan Brady and Team Owner Jon Bennett for having the faith in me to offer this opportunity. CORE has shown ever since they came into IMSA that they are one of the absolute top teams, winning races and championships in the very competitive Prototype Challenge category. To join an already very successful organization with one of the most iconic motorsports brands in Porsche and with such strong teammates in Jon, Colin and Pat makes me very excited."
Night of GT3 Cup Champions. IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Honored at Porsche Gala in Germany.
Champions of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama and the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama were among the elite drivers honored December 3 at the annual Night of Champions in Weissach, Germany.
American series champions Jesse Lazare (Platinum Cup) and Michael de Quesada (Gold Cup) and Canadian series champion Daniel Morad (Platinum Cup) attended the motorsport gala, receiving recognition and honors.
Besides attending the gala, Lazare, Morad and de Quesada were listed on the Wall of Fame, showing all of the championship-winning Porsche drivers in international, domestic and one-make competition around the globe in 2016. The trio also was among the group of championship drivers saluted on stage at the gala, and they toured the Porsche racecar factory and museum, which contains many winning Porsche racing machines from various eras.
Lazare, Morad and de Quesada also chatted with Mark Webber, who retired as a Porsche LMP 1 factory driver in the World Endurance Championship after the 2016 season. Webber, a Formula One Grand Prix race winner, won the 2015 WEC LMP 1 championship in a Porsche 919 with teammates Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley.
The trio also witnessed announcements of the Porsche Factory, Junior Driver and Young Professional Driver lineups for 2017.
Daniel Morad, Champion, Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama Platinum Cup.
"Porsche went above and beyond my expectations of how I played this experience out in my head. A huge thank you goes out to Jens Walther of Porsche Motorsport North America for organizing and facilitating a North America-only museum tour and dinner the day before the Night of Champions. The Night of Champions actually started with a Day of Champions. We had a private factory tour in Weissach where all of their racecars are built and tested."
"Overall, it was everything you would expect from Porsche - and then some! Thank you to IMSA for hosting two incredible championships and allowing us the opportunity to fight for this experience."
Michael de Quesada, Champion, Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama Gold Cup.
"It was extremely exciting and lit a larger fire of motivation to win and one day become a Porsche factory driver."
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Upcoming Porsche Events
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|IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
||ROAR Before the Rolex 24, Daytona International Speedway
||Daytona Beach, Florida
||Friday - Sunday, January 6 - 8, 2017
||GTLM (Porsche 911 RSR)
||GTD (Porsche 911 GT3 R)
||Rolex 24 At Daytona, Daytona International Speedway, January 28 - 29, 2017
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