Porsche Customer Teams Battle to Twin Rolex 24 At Daytona Class VictoriesDaytona Beach, Florida. Porsche added to its considerable legacy in the Rolex 24 At Daytona January 29 – 30. In what will be known as one of the greatest finishes in the 60 runnings of one of the world’s most revered sports car endurance races, Porsche customer team Pfaff Motorsports secured its first 24-hour victory in the GTD Pro class with its No. 9 Porsche 911 GT3 R race car. In an identical 510-hp Porsche 911 GT3 R, Wright Motorsports also etched its name among the legends of Daytona with a class win in the pro-am style GTD class. The twice-around the clock season opening round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was run on the 2.56-mile, 12-turn road course at the famed Daytona International Speedway in Florida.
Seven GT3-spec Porsche race cars were entered by customer teams in Daytona, but the spotlight would land on three of the naturally aspirated flat-six machines in the closing stages of the race. Cold weather plagued the event with temperatures falling to freezing in the darkness. Teams fought the balance of the all-out assault of modern sports car endurance races with the lack of tire grip due to the frigid temperatures. Once the morning brought sun and higher temperatures to the infield road course that also uses the majority of the high-banked oval made famous by the Daytona 500, battles began to form at the front of both the GT class standings. Wright, the 2021 IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup champions, was in the top-two of the GTD class holding-off tough competition from Mercedes AMG customer teams as the race moved into its final hours. 2021 WeatherTech GTD championship-winning team Pfaff had its “Plaid Porsche” in the top-two of the new GTD Pro class looking for its first Daytona victory against first-time IMSA entrant KCMG in the No. 2 Porsche 911 GT3 R. Ferrari was in the podium mix as well. As the teams entered the last two-hours, factory drivers Mathieu Jaminet (France) in the No. 9 and Laurens Vanthoor in the No. 2 entered into a nose-to-tail, door-to-door battle that lasted to the final lap. The two works drivers exchanged the lead several times before entering the newly named “Le Mans Chicane” on the backstraight during the final lap. Vanthoor pressed hard from second-place turning both his KCMG Porsche and the Pfaff machine in the lead. However, Jaminet recovered his rear-engine Porsche more quickly retaining the top spot while Vanthoor fell behind the Ferrari. They would finish in the order.
It was the first Daytona victory for Pfaff and all three of its drivers: Jaminet, Matt Campbell (Australia) and Felipe Nasr (Brazil). Vanthoor was joined by teammates Patrick Pilet (France), Dennis Olsen (Norway) and Alexandra Imperatori (Italy) in third-position.
The honor of receiving the coveted Rolex watch after a hard earned, and long fought for, career extended to the GTD class. Wright Motorsports received its first recognition as a Rolex 24 Champion despite several near misses over the years. The driver lineup of Ryan Hardwick (Atlanta, Georgia), Jan Heylen (Belgium), Zacharie Robichon (Canada) and factory driver Richard Lietz (Austria) drove a steady race often threatening the all-pro class entrants in outright speed and strategy. It was Heylen who, on the final stint of the race, was able to pull a gap for a convincing victory. It was a first for every driver but factory ace Lietz who scored his second Rolex watch, the first coming in 2014.
Porsche is the overall (21) and class victory record holder for manufacturers at Daytona International Speedway. Today’s twin class wins bring the Daytona total to 79 (GTD Pro) and 80 (GTD). In total, Porsche has earned 587 race victories in IMSA competition history, the most of any brand by a margin of 239.
Earlier in the weekend, on January 28, the brand new Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport won its inaugural race, the Endurance Challenge at Daytona. Longtime Porsche entrant RS1 scored the GS class win in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge with drivers Eric Filgueiras (Cocoa, Florida) and Stevan McAleer (Scotland). Fellow Porsche privateer TeamTGM finished in second-place.
The 70th Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, Round Two of the 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, is scheduled for Saturday, March 19 at Sebring International Raceway.
Volker Holzmeyer, President and CEO, Porsche Motorsport North America.
“This has been an excellent start to our 2022 race season. As the Porsche team, we checked almost every box for a successful weekend in supporting our customer teams: the pole position [McCann Racing] and a one-two finish for the international debut of the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport [RS1 and Team TGM], two cars on the GTD Pro podium including race winner Pfaff Motorsports and KCMG. In addition, Wright Motorsports earned the Rolex 24 victory for the GTD class. Our congratulations to all of our customer teams who performed so well under very challenging conditions.”
Steve Bortolotti, Team Manager, No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“That was intense. That was an intense finish. Obviously, Larry is a great driver, and we know that from working with him last year and winning the IMSA championship with him. We thought we had a really good car, especially at the end. Mathieu did an amazing job. Frankly, all three drivers did an amazing job. The boys were on it all weekend. Obviously, this is something we will remember forever. This is why we do it. We put this whole thing together with the goal of success as a group. We win as a team; we lose as a team. We are going to make it a point to continue this legacy and build something great.”
Mathieu Jaminet, Driver, No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“At the moment I am speechless. It is difficult to realize what just happened. [Matt] did an incredible job throughout the race but especially at the end because he brought the car back up to the KCMG Porsche which made a huge difference. I am super happy. This is the biggest race I have won in my career. This is the one everyone wants to win; it is the watch everyone wants to have. To finally get it, it is incredible. I need some time to realize what just happened. Especially in that way: a proper field, proper cars around us. It had a crazy finish with one of the best GT drivers in the world fighting against me. The big picture is just perfect.
Honestly, I didn’t know it was the last lap. Everyone will remember the last four minutes but, for me, it was two hours of hard fighting. To stay in front for two hours was tough, really tough. When it comes down to the last lap of 24-hours of racing, it is what everyone wants to have, including us drivers, but, on the other hand, I feel for the other team because they deserved to win as much as we do. So, hats off to Laurens and to the KCMG crew because they also deserved that win. We worked hard for it. Hats off to everyone at Pfaff Motorsports. They did an amazing job on strategy and in the pits.”
Matt Campbell, , Driver, No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“Super emotional. We are pretty speechless to win a race in such a fashion, especially in the new era with GTD Pro. It is fantastic. To win it the way we did with Mathieu in the car and the finish we had, it just makes it that extra special. And now we can call ourselves Rolex 24 Hour winners. It is a pretty incredible feeling. If you look at the cars that were in GTD Pro, it was a race of attrition. We just knew we had to keep it clean until the morning and see if we were in a position to fight. And we were. We had a fantastic strategy, and we were able to bring the car back to the front with five hours to go. Then we could start thinking about pacing ourselves for the final hours. Me and Mathieu have done this race many times. We have come close many times and now to be able to finally have a win, especially with a full-season effort with Pfaff, it is a great way to start the season. Hopefully, we can get a few more along the way.”
John Wright, Team Owner, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“This is an event I’ll never forget. The relationship between Wright Motorsports and Ryan Hardwick has been incredible, and to see our on-track results progress year after year really goes to show the drive he has, and the quality of people he surrounds himself with, and the strength of our crew.”
Jan Heylen, Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“Unbelievable. After all these years, to finally win the race. It is special to be here with all of these guys. It has been seven or eight years I have been a part of Wright Motorsports with Johnny [Wright, Team Owner] and Bobby [Viglione, Team Manager] and the whole team. We wouldn’t be able to do this without Ryan and 1st Phorm so big thank you to them and to Porsche for putting out a good product. I couldn’t be happier. It was a good way to end the season at Atlanta and a good way to start the new season here. I am looking forward to Sebring.”
Ryan Hardwick, Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“What a day. What an experience. For me personally, from being in a hospital room across the street a year ago watching this race, to coming back one year later with my same team and winning this historic race… this will forever be the most special moment of my life. I can’t thank John Wright and Bobby Viglione, our engineer, for their leadership and guidance of our team. This was something I knew we could do but it is hard to put into words having done it. I couldn’t be more blessed to be surrounded by such great people.”
Zacharie Robichon, Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“What can I say? From the beginning the Wright Motorsports team did a fantastic job. The race was insane. With 61-cars, the battling was crazy from the beginning. It was about surviving and making the right decisions. Every driver was quick and smart. The car is mostly unscathed and that is all you can ask for in this race. To be honest, I can’t even put into words how I am feeling right now.”
Richard Lietz, Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“Thank you to the team. This is the first time we have worked together, and I think everyone felt very comfortable from the beginning. It has felt like home, and it was a lot of fun for 24-hours. Of course, to win it and get the watch is something you cannot plan. A 24-hour race here in America is quite crazy; the best drivers in the world with the best brands fighting for this watch and we were the lucky ones. I am very happy.”
Dennis Olsen, Driver, No. 2 KCMG Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“Our target was to win. We gave absolutely everything to try and get the win. It was all or nothing. Larry did a fantastic job to try and get into first position. It is racing, sometimes it happens and today we were not the ones coming out of it the best. P3 is a good result but was not out target.”
Patrick Pilet, Driver, No. 2 KCMG Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“At the end, I am so proud to be a part of this team. This is their first time here and everything went perfectly from the engineers, the mechanics and from the drivers. We made no mistakes. The car was in perfect shape until the end. Larry has no regrets because he gave everything. And I think that is the message, everyone gave everything and left nothing. We have no regrets.”
Alex Imperatori, Driver, No. 2 KCMG Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“It was a rollercoaster at the end. One minute we thought we had it and the next one we didn’t. The highs are high, and the lows are low. We did everything perfect. We looked over the car the whole race and made sure we had the car for the end. There were zero issues. I think we had what it takes to win but sometimes it goes your way and today it did not. I am proud of the team.”
Laurens Vanthoor, Driver, No. 2 KCMG Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“Our goal for this race was to win it. I literally tried everything I could imagine to overtake the Pfaff car but it was not enough. We can be proud that we tried everything but unfortunately it was not enough today.”
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- Season 2022
- 24h Daytona
- IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
- North American Endurance Cup
- USA \ Daytona
- 911 GT3 R
Porsche Customer Teams Battle to Twin Rolex 24 At Daytona Class Victories