WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, GTD Pro/GTD: Rolex 24 At Daytona Qualifying Race
Porsche Customer Team Front Row Qualifier for Rolex 24 At Daytona
Daytona Beach, Florida. The grid is set for the 60th Running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. After finishing in the runner-up position in Sunday’s 100-minute qualifying race, the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R race car will start in second-place of the 13-car GTD Pro class on the 2.56-mile, 12-turn road course. The driver combination of Julien Andlauer (France) and Alessio Picariello (Belgium) will be joined by Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Illinois) and Matteo Cairoli (Italy) in the new all-pro category on race day. The No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche shared by Jan Heylen (Belgium) and Ryan Hardwick (Atlanta, Georgia) was the top GTD class finisher for the German sports car manufacturer finishing in third-place Sunday. The duo will be teamed with Porsche factory driver Richard Lietz (Austria) and 2021 GTD Champion Zacharie Robichon (Canada) for the January 29 – 30 Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway.
Seven Porsche 911 GT3 R customer cars will chase for a record-extending 79th class win in the American racing classic.
WeatherTech, GTD Pro Class.
The No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R machine was a close third-place to the WeatherTech Porsche and will start in third-place with Porsche factory drivers Mathieu Jaminet (France) and Felipe Nasr (Brazil) competing in the qualifying race with Matt Campbell (Australia) joining next weekend. This was Nasr’s first race in a GT car having campaigned prototypes for several seasons. The defending IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi champion was the first of two Porsche “works” drivers named to the 2023 LMDh effort along with Californian Dane Cameron. The new Porsche LMDh car had its first shakedown laps on the Porsche test track in Weissach, Germany on January 14 at the hands of IMSA veteran Frédéric Makowiecki (France). The No. 2 KCMG Porsche 911 GT3 R made its IMSA and North American debut from pole position in the qualifying race. Drivers Patrick Pilet (France) and Alexandre Imperatori (Switzerland) – who will share the Hong Kong-based Porsche customer squad next week with Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and Dennis Olsen (Norway) – finished in tenth-place in GTD Pro.
WeatherTech, GTD Class.
With the Wright Motorsports Porsche of Heylen, Hardwick, Lietz and Robichon leading the Porsche teams in the Pro-Am style class with a third-place result, the No. 99 Hardpoint Porsche will start 14th in class on Saturday. Sophomore Rolex 24 driver Stefan Wilson (Great Britain) and veteran Nick Boulle (Dallas, Texas), both new to the Virginia-based operation, had the honor behind the wheel learning the rear-engined Porsche racer but will be joined by full-season regulars Rob Ferriol (Fayetteville, North Carolina) and Katherine Legge (Great Britain) for the first official race of the season. Just behind in 15th-place on the grid will be GMG Racing’s No. 34 Porsche 911 GT3 R being campaigned by Klaus Bachler (Austria) and Kyle Washington (Canada). Team owner James Sofronas (Villa Park, California) and Jeroen Bleekemolen (Netherlands) will fill out the driver lineup during the “Rolex”. The final Porsche 911 GT3 R in the field will be TeamTGM machine starting 19th in class. The No. 64 was shared by owner/driver Ted Giovanis (Highland, Maryland) and Owen Trinkler (Brentwood, Tennessee) for the 100-minute race with brothers Hugh Plumb (Unionville, Pennsylvania) and Matt Plumb (Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania) being added to the mix for the race.
Practice for the 60th Running of the Rolex 24 will begin on Thursday, January 27 with three sessions including the popular “night practice”. A final session, as well as the four-hour Michelin Pilot Challenge race with nine Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport entered in the GS class, will take place on Friday, January 28. The clock will start ticking on the 24-hour battle of human, machine and track at 1:40 p.m., January 29. Coverage of the event can be found beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET on NBC followed by the Peacock App, USA Network and, again on NBC for the race’s conclusion starting at 12:00 p.m. Noon ET on Sunday, January 30. Coverage can also be found on IMSA Radio and the IMSA App.
Julien Andlauer, Driver, No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“After the difficult qualifying for us yesterday, I think we had a great comeback today. This result counts more than yesterday but this is not the final race. We will have to do the maximum next week. We can confirm the baseline is really good and the lineup is grateful for this. Each day the car is feeling better and better. I am quite happy with it. We did not have any contact, so the car is in one piece and that is what is most important.”
Felipe Nasr, Driver, No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“I felt it was a great experience to jump into the car and get my first taste in the qualifying race. I have got to say that Jaminet did a great job to put the car into the lead and show how the car number nine has the pace and the potential to be upfront. Good thing is, I got my first opportunity to do a driver change and get the full experience of what I can expect in the race. I want to thank the team for giving me the time and the chance to learn all the procedures I needed. All-in-all, when I jumped in it was about keeping the car on the track and learning as much as I could about racecraft, being around other GT cars, and how the traffic works. Now I have to check my mirrors way more often. For me, it was a new experience of everything that is going to happen in the 24. By finishing third, it is a great starting point for all of us looking ahead. Now I can digest all of this information and come back even better next week.”
Jan Heylen, Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“A super-fun race. A good job by Ryan. We all need a bit of time in the car. We didn’t have the opportunity to do a lot of off-season testing because of how late the 2021 season ended so this race was good to get some laps in and fall into a rhythm. Ryan did a really good first stint and from there it was a fun race. A lot of good racing. I think we have a good car for next weekend.”
Ryan Hardwick, Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“What a week at the Roar. Super successful weekend for our team. We advanced with the car throughout each session. The car just kept getting better and better and was at its best in the qualifying race. I was able to make-up a couple of positions and felt really good. Got the car in to Jan very cleanly and he went to work. He was amazing. We are really excited about the car we have for the 24 as well as our starting position. We really look to being competitive for the GTD class win. If Lady Luck and all the stars align, maybe being in the hunt for a Rolex next week.”
Richard Lietz, Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“We had a positive weekend. The main goal was to build-up confidence, find the car balance for day conditions, night conditions, also if it rains the car is able to handle the rain tires and every driver is happy. I think we achieved out goal. We are quite well prepared. It was good for me so that I could see how the race is going to be: listening to the engineers and the spotters and to get used to the championship. Now we will try and relax a bit and get ready for the big one.”
Zacharie Robichon, Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“It has been a great first experience with the Wright Motorsports team. We showed all four drivers are working well together. We have a good starting position. It is good to be working together, hitting all our marks and being where we want to be. It is a long race, but I am excited to get started.”
Nick Boulle, Driver, No. 99 Hardpoint Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“We’ve improved every session this week. In the race itself today the whole name of the game is moving forward but taking zero risk. There’s nothing to be gained from any risk, even if it pays off and we did that. Stef had an awesome stint and I think we accomplished what we needed to. We’re starting higher up than we did after qualifying when we made a mistake, and we’ll move on and try to keep on moving up.”
Rob Ferriol, Driver, No. 99 Hardpoint Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“I’m really excited to see how the team is coming together. We’ve got a few new components and they’ve integrated really well into the team. We have Nick and Stef who have integrated really well, and they did a great job today. We learned a little bit more about the car, piling on to what we already learned this week and so we’ll go into next week a bit smarter and hopefully a bit faster.”
Stef Wilson, Driver, No. 99 Hardpoint Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“The name of the game is just learning as much as possible this weekend and using it as a test session. I’ve got three days back in the car and got to shake off some rust, it’s been a long time since I’ve been racing and it’s good to constantly improve. We didn’t have any incidents on track and we were able to maximize our track time and figure out what we need to extract from our Porsche 911 GT3 R. It was a pretty lonely race, I didn’t get to battle anyone, but I’m really excited to get into the Rolex weekend for the 60th running.”
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