Left-to-right: Patrick Long, Michael Christensen, and Joerg Bergmeister celebrate the Porsche North America GT Le Mans win at Sebring.
TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, round 2: Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring
Sebring, Fla. Factory drivers Patrick Long (Playa del Rey, Calif.), Michael Christensen (Denmark) and Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) have won the 62nd Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring GT Le Mans (GTLM) class in the No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR.
The victory gives the new Porsche works program wins in both of North America's premier two sports car racing events; the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January and today's 12 Hours of Sebring. The No. 912 held off a field of factory efforts from the class pole position. However, the race came down to a final 20-minute sprint after a late race caution flag packed the field for a last push to the checkered flag in the second event of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season. Bergmeister, behind the wheel for the final stint, out-distanced the field to give new Porsche's 911 RSR victories at the three legendary racetracks of Sebring International Raceway, Daytona International Speedway and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The victory is Bergmeister's third at Sebring and Long's second. It was a first for Christensen who also scored his first career pole position as a Porsche factory driver this weekend.
The story for the No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR was set early in the race. The car raced by Richard Lietz (Austria), Nick Tandy (UK) and Patrick Pilet (France) was involved in a second-hour incident that damaged the nose of the Rolex 24 At Daytona-winning entry. Repairs dropped the car six laps back at the time and to last in the GTLM class. Once back on track the team fought to the close of the 12 hours finishing ninth, four laps behind their race-winning teammates.
Team Falken Tire debuted the first customer Porsche 911 RSR competing in the world with a strong performance. Factory drivers Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Marco Holzer (Germany), joined with Braselton, Ga.-resident Bryan Sellers, ran to fifth in class from their starting position of ninth.
In the GTD class, the Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT America outdistanced a strong field of competitors - overcoming a mechanical problem and a hard hit early in the race - to score the class win courtesy of drivers John Potter (Salt Lake City, Utah), Andy Lally (Dacula, Ga.), and Marco Seefried (Germany).
This was the first win for the new Porsche 911 GT America, the race car created for the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
The Alex Job Racing Porsches were third and fourth in the GTD class, and both cars contended for the win right to the end. Ian James and Mario Farnbacher, joined by Porsche Junior Alex Riberas finished third in the no. 23 Porsche 911 GT America, while the no. 22 Leh Keen/Cooper MacNeil/Philipp Frommenwiler Porsche 911 GT America was fourth.
Hartmut Kristen, head of Porsche Motorsport worldwide: "A really amazing race, like Sebring always is. Having a top podium finish in both GT classes is tremendous. The guys in the No. 911 car had a little bit of bad luck but otherwise everybody worked without any mistakes. With two wins this early with these kind of races and that kind of competition that is absolutely fabulous. It actually shows that our Junior Program is really the right thing to do with Michael Christensen being in GTLM in the winning car and Porsche Junior Alex Riberas in the GTD car. It is absolutely great."
Patrick Long: "Last night, we were here until well after the dinner hour and our mechanics asked why? I said because we are here to win. This morning we showed up this morning said the same thing. We had a plan and we stuck to it. That plan was to convert Michael's awesome qualifying into a lead for the opening stint. We knew we didn't have anything for them in the daylight but once the sun went down the race was going to start. We were able to execute."
Michael Christensen: "It's amazing. To have the strong team like I have it is amazing to be a part of. I cannot be more happy than I am right now. It is just a great feeling that everything came together to make this happen."
Joerg Bergmeister: "I was just telling myself 'don't mess it up' those last laps. At first I pushed fairly hard and the car was really good. But, when I heard there was just five minutes to go I took some pace out and just tried to control it. I didn't want to mess it up for these guys. Patrick always says I am good at night and I am just happy that it did work out."
Nick Tandy: "Obviously we are disappointed in the result but there is a lot of positive to take out of it. The team car ran very well. The team scored another victory. It is excellent. It goes to show the capability of both the cars. Secondly, after we got over the issues we had at the start of the race, the race pace of our car was very good. There are positives to take out of it. We still have two good point scoring finishes for the championship and we will take it on to the next one at Long Beach."
Richard Lietz: "We had a lot of bad luck. The car was really good which makes me confident for the next races. You have bad races some times and this was just one of those days. You have to accept this and keep working for Long Beach."
Patrick Pilet: "I was just P2 behind the Ferrari and I was behind an LMPC and he just spun in front of me, I couldn't' avoid the contact. I just touched him on the side but he broke the front bumper and we had to fix it and lost five laps. We never got the wave by at the right time. The car was working good but we just had bad luck today."
Wolf Henzler: "We didn't have much time to test, so we were not on pace for qualifying, but the race was a different story. The car was perfect, and the crew was great on pit stops. All the drivers did a great job and we were on our way to a podium until we had bad luck on the timing of the last pit stop, and lost track position. Overall, we are very pleased, and, considering we did not run at Daytona, we learned a lot for the next event."
Marco Holzer: "For a brand new car that had never raced, we were able to turn very consistent laps all day, and deserved better than a fifth place. The timing of the last yellow flag was bad luck, but I am very happy with a fifth place finish. I look forward to working with Falken again at Petit Le Mans,"
Bryan Sellers: "I am really pleased with how the day went. We put ourselves in a good position multiple times to be in contention. Porsche released a great 911 RSR and that is evident by their results. We had very little testing time in the car and we were still able to have a good result. Falken Tire did a great job for us and, as usual, our guys were fantastic in the pits! I don't think anyone could have guessed we would leave here with a top-five. It is a great feeling."
John Potter: "We had a real up-and-down race - a lot of yelling early in the race, and screaming late in the event, but, in the end, we are excited to win Sebring in only our second attempt."
Andy Lally: "After we were pushed off the track, and have a shifter issue early in the race, it would have been easy to get discouraged, but the Magnus Racing crew made everything right, including changing the paddle shift compressor in less than 90 seconds. We made a great call on the final pit stop, and then traffic between us and the Ferrari sealed the deal."
Marco Seefried: "There was a lot of trouble out there. I was in the car for five or six yellow flags, and did not want to be either the victim or the cause of the trouble. To finish on the podium at both Daytona and Sebring to start the season is great."
Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring GT Le Mans Results
1.Patrick Long (Playa del Rey, Calif.)/Michael Christensen (Denmark)/Joerg Bergmeister (Germany), Porsche 911 RSR - 286 laps
2. Robert Bell (UK)/Jonathan Bomarito (Monterey, Calif.)/Kuno Wittmer (Montreal, CANDA), SRT Viper - 286 laps
3. Bill Auberlen (Redondo Beach, Calif.)/Andy Priaulx (UK)/Joey Hand (Sacramento, Calif.), BMW Z4 - 286 laps
4. Tracey Krohn (Houston, Tex.)/Nic Jonsson (Buford, Ga.)/Andrea Bertolini (Italy) , Ferrari 458 - 286 laps
5. Wolf Henzler (Germany)/Bryan Sellers (Braselton, Ga.)/Marco Holzer (Germany), Porsche 911 RSR - 285 laps
6. Oliver Gavin (UK)/Tommy Milner (Lake Mary, Fla.)/Robin Liddell (Scotland), Corvette C-7R - 285 laps
7. Dominik Farnbacher (Germany)/Marc Goossens (Belgium)/Ryan Hunter-Reay (Dallas, TX), SRT Viper -284 laps
8. Jan Magnussen (Denmark)/Antonio Garcia (Spain)/Ryan Briscoe (Mooresville, N.C.), Corvette C-7R - 283 laps
9. Nick Tandy (UK)/Richard Lietz (Austria)/Patrick Pilet (France), Porsche 911 RSR - 282 laps
10. Dirk Mueller (Switzerland)/John Edwards (Cincinnati, Ohio)/Dirk Werner (Germany), BMW Z4 - 277 laps.
Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring GT Daytona Results - top results
1. John Potter (Salt Lake City, Utah)/Andy Lally (Dacula, Ga.)/Marco Seefried (Germany), Porsche 911 GT America - 278 laps
2. Bill Sweedler (Westport, Conn.), Townsend Bell (San Francisco, Calif.), Maurizio Mediani (Italy)/ Jeff Segal (USA), Ferrari 458 - 278 laps
3. Ian James (Phoenix)/Mario Farnbacher (Germany)/Alex Riberas (Spain), Porsche 911 GT America - 278 laps
4. Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.)/Leh Keen (Atlanta)/Philipp Frommenwiler (Switzerland), Porsche 911 GT America - 278 laps
5. Seth Neiman (San Francisco, Calif)/Dion von Moltke (Coral Gables, Fla.)/Filipe Albuquerque (Portugal), Audi RS - 278 laps
6. Christopher Mies (Germany)/Charlie Putnum (Mills, Wyo.)/Charles Espenlaub (Lutz, Fla.), Audi R8 - 278 laps
7. Shane Lewis (Jupiter, Fla.)/Markus Palttala (Finland)/Paul Della Lana (Toronto, CANADA)/Dan Cameron (Atlanta, Ga.), BMW Z4 - 277 laps
9. Matt Plumb (Newport, R.I.)/Madison Snow (Lehi, Utah)/Jan Heylen (Tampa), Porsche 911 GT America - 273
10. Damien Faulkner (Ireland)/ Patrick Huisman (Netherlands)/ Bob Faieta (Los Angeles)/Mike Avenatti (Sacramento, Calif.) , Porsche 911 GT America - 271 laps
15. Patrick Dempsey (Malibu, Calif.)/Andrew Davis (Athens, Ga.)/Joe Foster (Suwanee, Ga.), Porsche 911 GT America - 244 laps
Complete results at www.imsa.com.
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 GT3 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 220 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 63-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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