Interim report, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Round 1, Daytona (USA)
Porsche 911 GT3 R in the leading pack, bad luck for WeatherTech Racing
The Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by the Wright Motorsports customer team lies in a promising position after three hours of racing at the Daytona 24 Hours. The 500+hp vehicle run by the experienced squad from the US state of Ohio currently ranks fourth in the GTD class after a turbulent start to the season-opening round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Meanwhile, in the hotly contested GTLM category, bad luck has plagued the WeatherTech Racing team. The No. 79 Porsche 911 RSR got caught up in an accident at the start and is now running at the back of the field.
In bright sunshine and temperatures of over 20 degrees Celsius, works driver Kévin Estre took up the race from the third grid spot at the wheel of the Porsche 911 RSR. When the 59th edition of the American endurance classic took off, misfortune hit. The Frenchman’s vehicle was hit from behind and forced into a spin. This action caused his car to shunt a competitor in front. The team, which receives support for the IMSA campaigns from the seasoned Proton Competition squad, repaired the ca. 515 hp car from Weissach but lost 14 laps. Thanks to a clever strategy during numerous caution phases, that gap was reduced by two laps.
The first stints went considerably better for the four customer teams contesting the GTD category for vehicles complying with the GT3 regulations. In the early phase, Belgium’s Jan Heylen was at times running in second place at the wheel of the No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by Wright Motorsports. Maintaining fourth place after three hours of racing, the chance to fight for class victory looks good for the squad. In twelfth position, the identical vehicle campaigned by Pfaff Motorsports also has good prospects. The two Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by Hardpoint EBM and TGM head into the Florida night ranking 13th and 19th.
The first race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season can be viewed outside the USA and Canada on www.imsa.com. Live timing of all sessions is available at scoring.imsa.com.
Comments after the start
Kévin Estre (Porsche 911 RSR #79): “We were all bunched up and waiting to get the go-ahead to start. Suddenly, a BMW crashed into my rear, and the green flag hadn’t even come out. I couldn’t do a thing. It took ages to repair the damage, so our race was ruined at the start. We’re back in the race, but the vehicle is now out of balance. It’s such a shame. The GTLM class is almost exclusively made up of professionals. An accident like this just shouldn’t happen.”
Sebastian Golz (Project Manager Porsche 911 GT3 R): “Our hearts almost stopped at the start when the 911 RSR was shunted out of the blue. But that says a lot about the situation we’re facing. Everyone is driving as if it was a one-hour race – it’s brutal out there. Our four Porsche 911 GT3 R are looking good. Everything is running to plan. Pfaff Motorsports tweaked the setup during a pit stop and that cost them some ground, but it’ll pay off further down the line. The rhythm of our teams is good. It’s important to avoid any skirmishes and drive a clean race.”
Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 GT3 R #9): “My stints went well. It’s tough out there, but I managed to keep out of any trouble and gained some positions at the same time. Our Porsche 911 GT3 R is running beautifully. Our goal is to get through the night with little risk and stay in touch with the frontrunners. If we can turn our laps without any incidents or penalties, then we have the best chances over the distance.”
Jan Heylen (Porsche 911 GT3 R #16): “I simply did my job: take care in the traffic, keep an eye on the brakes and tyres, and use as little fuel as possible. That worked perfectly. On top of that, I even managed to overtake a lot of rivals. After my stint, I handed the car off in second place. If we can continue like this, we should have every chance in the final sprint.”
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