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Porsche Motorsport Weekly Event Notes: Monday, April 29, 2019

This Week:

  • Defending Ohio. Porsche GT Team Looks to Repeat at Mid-Ohio.
  • Match Point. Porsche Sets Sights on World Championship in Belgium.
  • Porsche Podiums. 911 GT3 R Customers Capture SRO GT Podiums at VIR.
  • All In The Family. Black Swan Helps Wright Motorsports to Porsche Podium.
  • Road and Race. Kelly-Moss Remains Benchmark Team in IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge.

    Porsche Profile.
    Event Story Lines.
    Defending Ohio. Porsche GT Team Looks to Repeat at Mid-Ohio.

    Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) scored their first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race win together in the No. 912 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR a year ago at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. They earned their second career victory at the most recent race in Long Beach, California. That success, paired with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring GTLM class win of Patrick Pilet (France) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain) in the No. 911 car, places the Porsche factory operation in the lead of the manufacturers’ and drivers’ championship. The two-car Porsche 911 RSR team returns to the Lexington, Ohio-area race track May 3 – 5 to defend the 2018 class win.

    Following the 24-hour race at Daytona, and victories in the 12-hour Sebring and 100-minutes at Long Beach, the IMSA Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio is the first event of the year at the standard two-hour and 40-minute run time. Porsche has fought to three consecutive GTLM class pole positions and two wins in a row. As a result, Pilet and Tandy currently rank second in the drivers’ classification. The sister car driven by Bamber and Vanthoor leads the championship after winning the Long Beach street race.

    While the GTD class was absent from the previous round on the West Coast, the Porsche 911 GT3 R returns to the competition on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn natural terrain road course in central Ohio. Two customer teams bring the rear-engine 911 GT3 R to the third-race in the Pro-Am class season. First-year Canadian team Pfaff Motorsports enters the No. 9 driven by Porsche Selected Driver Scott Hargrove (Canada) and 2018 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama champion Zach Robichon (Canada). The familiar Park Place Motorsports No. 73 has a driver change for the weekend. With Team Principal/Driver Patrick Lindsey (Santa Barbara, California) in Belgium for the penultimate race of the 2018/2019 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season at Spa-Francorchamps, Porsche veteran Marco Seefried (Austria) will share the car with Porsche factory ace Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California).

    Pascal Zurlinden, Director GT Factory Motorsport.
    “Of course we want to continue our good run from the past weeks. The competition among the manufacturers in the GTLM class is fierce. We recently gave an impressive demonstration of just how strong the combination of our squads and the Porsche 911 RSR is. We were victorious over long distances and at the sprint race. Now we’re travelling to Mid-Ohio as last year’s winners – and that gives us even more confidence. We aim to maintain our front spot in the championship and hopefully extend our lead.”

    Steffen Höllwarth, Program Manager IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
    “After our wins at Sebring and Long Beach we’re travelling to the Mid-Ohio race feeling very motivated. This racetrack presents us with new challenges. The course is a real mixed bag with many tight turns and long straights. It requires mechanic grip and the setup must be a good compromise between a lot of downforce and enough top speed. Our victory last year underlined that the Porsche 911 RSR is well suited to the track. Although we’ve been victorious at the previous races, we’ve always had the potential to bring home podium results with both cars. I hope we can do this in Mid-Ohio.”

    Sebastian Golz, Project Manager, Porsche 911 GT3 R.
    “The Mid-Ohio track is not only rich in tradition but is also really challenging. The layout allows different racing lines in some places, but the lap-time differences are not significant. The key to success is a strong qualifying result because this narrow circuit doesn’t offer many over-taking opportunities. If you start up the front you can control the race. We want our customer teams’ two Porsche 911 GT3 R cars to be in this promising position.”

    Patrick Pilet, Driver, No. 911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
    “The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course has a very special character. It has lots of different types of asphalt and the transition between them can often be tricky. We were very fast there last year with both cars. We qualified on the front grid row and our colleagues in the sister car scored victory in the race. I’m confident that we’ll be strong again this year.”

    Nick Tandy, Driver, No. 911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
    “Last year was my first time on this racetrack and I was instantly impressed. Mid-Ohio is a truly classic circuit for sports cars in a typical American style. I really like that. The track surface changes several times per lap, and so does the grip. We have to work intensively on the setup and keep an eye on the weather at all times. It rains quite often in early May around the Lexington area. We have to be prepared for it.”

    Earl Bamber, Driver, No. 912 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
    “There’s definitely no lack of motivation and excitement. We’re tackling Mid-Ohio as last year’s winners and have won the previous round at Long Beach. We now bring this momentum and these successes to the upcoming race. It’ll be important to notch up another victory there, because afterwards the IMSA series will take a long break in the lead-up to the Le Mans 24-hour race. We’re determined to travel to France as the series leaders and then continue the season in North America as the frontrunners.”

    Laurens Vanthoor, Driver, No. 912 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
    “If you’ve won last year with the same car on the same track then obviously it’s wonderful to return to the venue. For us in the number 912 Porsche 911 RSR there’s also the lingering pleasure of our Long Beach victory. Still, the Mid-Ohio race will be no walk in the park. The racetrack is challenging because many lines lack grip. We have to do our utmost to be at the front again.”

    Match Point. Porsche Sets Sights on World Championship in Belgium.
    Porsche reaches a match point at the seventh round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on May 4. The factory squad has the opportunity to take home the LMGTE-Pro class manufacturers’ title at the penultimate round of the 2018/2019 WEC “Super Season”. Two of the ca. 510 hp Porsche 911 RSR will go against vehicles from Aston Martin, BMW, Ford and Ferrari. The six-hour race marks the second visit to the Belgian venue in the current WEC season. It was here that the Super Season began a year ago. At that event, the two works cars finished in second and fourth-position.

    The 4.35-mile racetrack near the German border has a long tradition. During its rich history in sports car racing and Formula One, fans have been treated to many gripping and spectacular races. The “Ardennes rollercoaster”, as the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is often called due to its wildly undulating layout, includes 21 corners. Fast turns such as Eau Rouge and Blanchimont are as famous as the tight La Source hairpin.

    Winners of the most recent race on the WEC schedule, the 1,000-miles of Sebring in Florida, Gianmaria Bruni (Italy) and Richard Lietz (Austria) tackle the race in the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR. After seven of this season’s eight rounds, the pair ranks second in the drivers’ classification. Only their brand colleagues Kévin Estre (France) and Michael Christensen (Denmark) are in a better position in the identical vehicle with the starting number 92. The winners of the 2018 Le Mans 24-hour race and the six-hour event at Fuji, Japan hold a championship lead of 25 points over their colleagues.

    Three Porsche customer teams field a total of four 911 RSR in the LMGTE-Am class. Porsche works driver Jörg Bergmeister (Germany), Patrick Lindsey (Santa Barbara, California) and Egidio Perfetti (Norway) drive for Project 1. The trio in the No. 56 car currently leads the drivers’ classification in LMGTE-Am and could also score an early title. Moreover, Project 1 is on track to claim the team championship.

    Driving the No. 86 car for Gulf Racing is Porsche Young Professional Thomas Preining (Austria) and the two British racers Michael Wainwright and Benjamin Barker. Dempsey Proton Racing campaign a pair of Porsche 911 RSR, the Nos. 77 and 88. In the No. 77 Porsche 911 RSR, Porsche Young Professional Matt Campbell (Australia), Christian Ried (Germany) and Riccardo Pera (Italy) are determined to continue their good run. This combo won the previous two races in Shanghai (China) and Sebring at Sebring, Florida. Porsche Young Professional Matteo Cairoli (Italy) shares the cockpit of the No. 88 Porsche 911 RSR with the Italian father-son pairing Gianluca and Giorgio Roda.

    The current generation Porsche 911 RSR celebrated its debut in the WEC Sports Car World Championship at Silverstone in 2017. In the 2018/2019 Super Season, the racer from Weissach, Germany has clinched first and second in the LMGTE-Pro class at Le Mans as well as the LMGTE-Am category class win. The water-cooled four-liter boxer engine is based on the seventh generation of the iconic 911 sports car and produces approximately 510 hp depending on the air intake restrictor.

    Fritz Enzinger, Vice President Motorsport.
    “After three years of harvesting LMP1-class titles, we could move straight on to the next world championship with our Porsche 911 RSR. The fantastic results in the highly competitive GT category over the past months have put the manufacturers’ title within our reach at Spa. It would be a dream if we succeed in securing it, and then we’d be able to share in the excitement of the duel between our two driver line-ups at Le Mans for the crown of the drivers’ world championship.”

    Pascal Zurlinden, Director GT Factory Motorsport.
    “After our recent victories in the IMSA series and the WEC race at Sebring, we’re riding the wave of success. But we won’t allow that to distract us from our proven track. Meticulous preparation, perfect teamwork and flawless driving performances will again be the key to success at Spa. Scoring second-place at the season-opener in Belgium last year, we narrowly missed out on winning. We still have some unfinished business at Spa-Francorchamps, and we’re keen to settle the score.”

    Gianmaria Bruni, Driver, No. 91 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
    “The Spa-Francorchamps racetrack is one of my all-time favorites on the WEC Super Season calendar. For us drivers, the circuit offers very special challenges – there is nothing quite like the ‘Ardennes roller-coaster’. We have a very clear task for the upcoming race: to clinch an early win of the world manufacturers’ championship for Porsche. We’ll do everything to achieve this goal. After our win at Sebring we’re feeling very confident.”

    Richard Lietz, Driver, No. 91 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
    “After our success in Florida there is now one major goal: victory at Spa-Francorchamps. We want to kill two birds with one stone. Firstly, to help Porsche on its way to the world title, and secondly, perhaps this would give Gimmi and I the chance to secure the drivers’ championship in the grand finale at Le Mans. We’d like to keep the door open to the last meter.”

    Kévin Estre, Driver, No. 921 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
    “What makes this special is the fact that this is the second time we’ll race at Spa this season under exactly the same conditions – usually such things never happen. We know precisely where we stand compared to the competition. A decent result should be enough to take home an early manufacturers’ championship title, but that won’t be enough for us drivers. A win would put us a step closer to the drivers’ championship.”

    Michael Christensen, Driver, No. 92 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
    “At the start of the 2018 season at Spa we fought hard against Ford and Ferrari. Now the competition is even tougher, because in recent months the other manufacturers have caught up to the frontrunners. It’ll be an extremely close race, but we’re feeling very well prepared. The Porsche 911 RSR is fully developed, the team runs like clockwork. We’ll be going for victory at Spa again this year.”

    Jörg Bergmeister, Driver, Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR.
    “After the eventful Sebring weekend I’m looking forward to our WEC home race. Hopefully the weekend in Belgium will be a little less turbulent than the previous one in the USA. There, we had to build a new car in record time and we managed to finish on the podium. It’s always a great pleasure to drive at Spa – especially with a car like the Porsche 911 RSR, which generates plenty of downforce. This makes the circuit even more fun.”

    Matt Campbell, Driver, No. 77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche 911 RSR.
    “In May 2018 the WEC Super Season kicked off at Spa; now a year later we’re back there and it’s still the same season. I’ve never experienced this before. It feels really great to drive the Porsche 911 RSR through fast corners like Eau Rouge and Blanchimont. It’s a real treat for us racers. We now aim to follow up on our successes in Shanghai and Sebring with a third victory so that we can advance further in the championship.”

    Porsche Podiums. 911 GT3 R Customers Capture SRO GT Podiums at VIR.
    Rounds three and four of the 2019 SRO Blancpain GT World Challenge America championship saw Porsche Motorsport customer teams Alegra Motorsports and Wright Motorsports add to the early success of the latest 911 GT3 R. The pair of 90-minute races for GT3-spec machines came at the 3.27-mile, 18-turn natural terrain road course in Southern Virginia on Saturday, April 28 and Sunday April 29. When the final checkered flag fell on Sunday, Porsche customers had stood on the GT podium four times – once on Saturday and three-times on Sunday. The success strengthens the German marque’s position in the SRO Blancpain GT World Challenge America Manufacturer point standings.

    The first to take a podium was the No. 24 Alegra Motorsports Porsche shared by veteran Porsche drivers Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Marco Holzer (Germany). The pair of former factory drivers piloted the rear-engine 911 GT3 R to second-place in Saturday’s Race 1. They were the highest finishing Porsche ahead of their teammates Michael De Quesada (Tampa, Florida) and Daniel Morad (Canada) in the No. 22 Alegra machine who were rewarded with fourth-place in the Pro class. The No. 58 Porsche Consulting Wright Motorsports car of factory driver Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California) and Porsche Selected Driver Scott Hargrove (Canada) fought for the lead throughout most of Saturday’s event before, in the closing stages of the race, Hargrove went off in the “Oak Tree” corner damaging the front of the Porsche. When the checkered flew, the duo was in fifth-place in Pro class.

    Following late-night repairs, the No. 58 was ready for Sunday’s midday feature event and all five Porsche race cars took their earned positions on the grid for Race 2. At the conclusion of the main event on the track near the North Carolina border, Porsche had three top-three finishes on two class podiums and three of the top-four with four cars in the top-eight overall and all five running at the checkered flag.

    Wright Motorsports was rewarded for its late-night efforts. The Long/Hargrove pairing challenged the race-winning Bentley Continental GT3 all the way to the finish bringing home second-place in the No. 58. Chasing their fellow Porsche runners, the two 510 horsepower Alegra Motorsports entries finished in third and fourth-place. The No. 24 earned its second podium of the weekend with Henzler/Holzer in third-place. Porsche Young Driver Academy graduates and 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona GTD class-winners De Quesada/Morad finished in fourth-place – their best result of the season to-date. After losing drive in Race 1 and not finishing, the No. 91 Wright Motorsports Porsche of Anthony Imperato (Brooklyn, New York) and Porsche Young Professional Matt Campbell (Australia) crossed the finish line in third-place in the Pro-Am class. K2R Motorsports continues to learn the No. 38 Porsche 911 GT3 R with open wheel veteran Alex Barron (San Diego, California) guiding Kevan Millstein through the challenges of the SRO GT Pro-Am class. The combination was not classified on Saturday having fallen out early but rallied to an eighth-place class finish on Sunday.

    The SRO Blancpain GT World Challenge America returns to competition on May 17 – 19. Rounds five and six of the 14-race championship will be held at Canada’s monument to speed, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

    Patrick Long, Driver, No. 58 Porsche Consulting Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
    “All things considering, we have to be really proud of our rebound to finish second. The car balance was really good. We had a bit of a conservative strategy after a tire issue at the start of the race. Unfortunately, that meant that a couple of cars jumped us in pit stops. We also had a bit of contact with the Ferrari which damaged our setup and left front splitter. It was a difficult race to persevere through, but we were there at the end and that’s what counted. It was a great day for our manufacturer’s championship hopes.”

    Scott Hargrove, Driver, No. 58 Porsche Consulting Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
    “After the trip to the tire barrier in Race 1, I felt really bad for the team and Porsche. That was on my shoulders so I wanted to make up for it and we did. I knew the Bentleys were really strong, so I figured the start was my only chance to get around them. The Ferrari and Bentley went wide at the start, which gave me a good run on the outside of turn three and got me to the front. I pushed as hard as I could until we had a tire issue towards the end of my stint. The second the window opened I pitted, which put us in a tricky strategy situation. From there, Pat did a great job, catching up and closing the gap. It was a great way to end the weekend and I’m excited to move onto Canadian Tire Motorsport Park."

    Matt Campbell, Driver, No. 91 Henry Repeating Arms Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
    “It was nice to salvage a podium after a frustrating weekend. The lead-up to the race certainly wasn’t ideal, but the Wright Motorsports team did a great job and we had a nice recovery. Hopefully moving on to the next race with Dennis [Olsen] driving, they can take a step forward and move up the podium ladder for Anthony’s title chase.”

    Anthony Imperato, Driver, No. 91 Henry Repeating Arms Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
    “It wasn’t the weekend I wanted, but after the issues we suffered at the beginning of the week we’re happy with a podium. I made some mistakes and am really confident that we had more. We’ll be back stronger at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.”

    All In The Family. Black Swan Helps Wright Motorsports to Podium.
    Porsche racers have long been considered a family. While they compete against one another intensely on the track, the teams come to each other’s aid at times of need. When the No. 58 Porsche Consulting Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R nosed into the tire wall at VIRginia International Raceway’s (VIR) “Oak Tree” corner near the end of Saturday’s SRO Blancpain GT World Challenge America race, the team did not have all of the parts it needed to make repairs in time for Sunday’s 90-minute race. Scheduled to start third on the grid the next day, it was imperative that the Ohio-based team have the car ready for Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California) and Scott Hargrove (Canada) to race. Through the help of Black Swan Racing, Wright Motorsports was not only on the grid for the start on Sunday, it was on the podium at the finish.

    Black Swan Racing has been idle since team principal/driver Tim Pappas (Boston, Massachusetts) was injured in a practice accident for the 12 Hours of Bathurst in February. Despite being sidelined for the time-being, the team – based in Florida – has a 2019 Porsche 911 GT3 R it campaigned in the Rolex 24 At Daytona and an accompanying spare parts inventory. Through the efforts of Wright Motorsports and Porsche Motorsport North America (PMNA), Black Swan was made aware of the need for certain parts to repair the Wright entry. Not only did the Pappas-owned team answer the call, they drove the parts to Savannah, Georgia to meet representatives of the Wright team. Wright crewmembers made the four-hour drive south to meet their fellow Porsche competitors. Meeting “in the middle” allowed the Johnny Wright-owned operation its only chance to get the parts back to the Alton, Virginia in time to make repairs.

    The parts arrived in southern Virginia at 4:00 a.m. ET where the No.58 crew went to work. The 2017 SRO Blancpain GT World Challenge America championship team had an 11:45 a.m. open grid call as their deadline for repairs to be completed. Not only did the team meet that, they beat it in time to request, receive and make a “hardship lap” to ensure that car was completely ready to race. And race it did. The No. 58 of Long and Hargrove led much of the 90-minute race on Sunday ultimately finishing second-overall.

    Road and Race. Kelly-Moss Remains Benchmark Team in IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge.
    For more than 30 years, Kelly-Moss Road and Race has been preparing race cars to beat the best… and they have done just that. In over three decades, the Madison, Wisconsin-based program has become the benchmark operation of the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama championship. So much so that, with the twin victories of Roman De Angelis (Canada) at the 2019 season-opening weekend at Barber Motorsports Park on April 6 and 7, Kelly-Moss extended its commanding lead in entrant victories to 50. That is twice the number of its nearest rival in the one-make series for Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race cars. A margin, which ensures the preparer of five GT3 Cup Challenge USA entries cannot be overtaken as the record-holder until at least 2021.

    Entering the 16-race, eight-weekend GT3 Cup Challenge USA series season, De Angelis had set himself as the driver to beat in the Platinum class for 2019. The 2018 graduate of the Porsche Young Driver Academy already had a full season of competition in the United States-based series under his belt driving for Kelly-Moss with two overall victories and multiple podium finishes. The flag-to-flag victories behind the wheel of the No. 79 Racing for Children’s Kelly-Moss Road and Race Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car in Alabama reiterated that the 18-year-old plans to add to the lengthy win column of his team.

    Rounds 3 and 4 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course will give the remaining 25-entries opportunity to try and turn the tide on Kelly-Moss and De Angelis early in the season. The pair of 45-minute races will be run on Saturday May 4 and Sunday May 5 with practice starting at the 2.358-mile, 13-turn natural terrain road course in Lexington, Ohio on Friday, May 3.

    Jeremy Shaw of IMSA Radio contributed to this story.

    Andy Kilcoyne, Director of Operations, Kelly-Moss Road and Race.
    “Kelly-Moss is incredibly proud of the 50 overall victory milestone in GT3 Cup Challenge. We work very hard at providing a learning-rich environment for all of our drivers and feel we have created a successful model that has evolved with the needs of our clients. Porsche has built a fantastic platform with the GT3 Cup Challenge single make series that we intend to align ourselves with for years to come. We would be remiss if we didn't thank our drivers for their time and effort put into podium finishes, race wins and championships. Results fuel our passion, and as a team, we are excited to push for another championship and the next 50 wins."

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    • Motorsports
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Porsche Motorsport Weekly Event Notes: Monday, April 29, 2019

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