Preview, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Round 3, Sebring (USA)

Preview, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Round 3, Sebring (USA)

Porsche aims to top the leaderboard at round three of the season

After a successful restart to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Porsche is eager to take the lead of the manufacturers’ classification at round three in Sebring (USA). After yielding two podium results in the GTLM class from the first two races held at America’s motor racing stronghold, Daytona, the factory squad of the sports car manufacturer is just one point off the lead with the ca. 515 hp Porsche 911 RSR. At the second race in Florida within two weeks, two works-run RSR from Weissach as well as a customer vehicle will be fielded. In the GTD class, Wright
Motorsports campaigns a 911 GT3 R.

 

The race

The Sebring International Raceway throws major challenges at man and machine. About one third of the 6.02-kilometre racetrack consists of old concrete slabs, which were previously part of the runway at the former Hendricks Army Airfield. These washboard-like sections of the track cause hefty vibrations. Due to this special feature, the racetrack about 100 kilometres south of Orlando is often mentioned on social media with the hashtag #RespectTheBumps. For the engineers of the works team, the
emphasis is on finding a suitable setup for the kinematics of the 911 RSR. Porsche is the most successful manufacturer on the storied circuit, which has regularly hosted endurance races since 1950. So far, the Stuttgart marque has netted 18 outright wins and 72 class victories at Sebring. In the last two years, the Porsche 911 RSR has dominated the GTLM class at the twelve-hour race. The “Sebring 240” on 18 July is contested over just two hours and 40 minutes. The long-distance classic over twelve hours, originally scheduled for March, has been pushed to 14 November at the same venue as a season finale.

 

The Porsche GT Team drivers

Works drivers Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) share driving duties in the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR. The reigning GTLM-class champions have scored second place at the first two rounds of the season in Daytona and currently lead the drivers’ championship. Briton Nick Tandy and Frédéric Makowiecki from France are keen to claim their first win of the season with the No. 911 sister car. The pair concluded the 24-hour race at the end of January and the race over 2:40 hours in Daytona on 4 July in third place. In the manufacturers’ classification, Porsche currently ranks third, just one point behind the joint leaders BMW and Corvette. At round three in Sebring, the North American factory squad now aims to bring home the first IMSA win with the new Porsche 911 RSR.

 

The customer team

In the GTD class, the seasoned customer team Wright Motorsports again fields a 500+hp Porsche 911 GT3 R at the third round of the North American sports car series. The squad from the U.S. state of Ohio entrust the cockpit to works driver Patrick Long and his compatriot Ryan Hardwick. The team currently ranks fourth in the class for vehicles compliant with the GT3 regulations.

 

Live streaming of the race

Round three of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Sebring takes off on Saturday, 18 July, at 5:35 p.m. local time (11:35 p.m. CEST). The race over 2:40 hours can be viewed outside the USA and Canada on www.imsa.com.  

 

The schedule (local time, CEST: -6 hours)

Friday, 17 July

6.00 - 7:00 p.m. – Free practice

 

Saturday, 18 July

10:00 - 11:15 a.m. – Free practice

1:55 - 2:10 p.m. – Qualifying GTD

2:20 - 2:35 p.m. – Qualifying GTLM

2:45 - 3:00 p.m. – Qualifying DPi/LMP2

5:35 - 8:15 p.m. – Race

 

The Porsche 911 RSR

The new Porsche 911 RSR (2019 model year) celebrated its debut in the IMSA SportsCar Championship at the 24 Hours of Daytona. The vehicle from Weissach, which produces around 515 hp depending on the air restrictor, is based on the high-performance 911 GT3 RS* road-going sports car. Compared to its extremely successful predecessor model, the car received improvements, most notably to areas such as driveability, efficiency, ergonomics and serviceability. About 95 percent of all components are new. The 911 RSR is powered by a 4.2-litre, six-cylinder boxer engine.

 

This is the IMSA SportsCar Championship

The IMSA SportsCar Championship was founded in the USA and Canada in 2013 after the merger of the American Le Mans Series and the Grand-Am Series. A year later the new sports car race series, which is organised by the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), was contested for the first time. Sports prototypes and sports cars start in four different classes: GTLM (GT Le Mans), GTD (GT Daytona), Dpi (Daytona Prototype international) and LMP2 (Le Mans Prototype 2). The new Porsche 911 RSR is fielded in the GTLM class, and the Porsche 911 GT3 R contests the GTD class. The Porsche GT Team tackles the 2020 season in North America as the title defenders in the manufacturers’, drivers’ and team classifications.

 

Comments prior to the race

Pascal Zurlinden (Director Factory Motorsport): “We claimed podium spots at the first two races in Daytona and by now we’re the only manufacturer to finish on the podium at all races. The 2020 season has started very well. Now there’s just one thing missing: We want to achieve the first win in the USA for the 2019-spec Porsche 911 RSR. Our factory squad in North America did an exceptional job under difficult conditions recently. I’m sure that our team will put in another strong performance at Sebring. I’m particularly pleased that the IMSA management and the local authorities have managed to make real motor racing possible again with a well thought-out health-protection concept. A huge thank you to all involved.”

 

Steffen Höllwarth (Head of Operations IMSA Championship): “The IMSA races now come in quick succession. After the successful Daytona events, we’re travelling to our next mission in Sebring feeling very good. We’ve won the twelve-hour race on this track in the past two years. However, the weather conditions were different because the long-distance classic was contested in the cooler month of March. Like at Daytona recently, we have to be prepared for heat and thunderstorms at the Sebring Sebring International Raceway. Due to the compact weekend programme, it’ll be important to sort ourselves out in the first free practice. There’s barely any time for detailed analyses or extensive setup changes. If you’re fast from the get-go, you have the best chance of beating the tough competition in the GTLM class.”

 

Nick Tandy (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “We’re coming to Sebring as the winners of the last two twelve-hour events. That feels great. We’re extremely motivated. Sebring is one of my all-time favourites. We want to continue our good run on this ‘mogul terrain’ as seamlessly as possible. Our new 2019-spec Porsche 911 RSR is sure to cope very well with the special Sebring conditions. We aim to score the first win of the season.”

 

Frédéric Makowiecki (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “At the last two races in Daytona, we were a bit off with our strategy, and that impacted the result. But, there is no doubt that our Porsche 911 RSR has everything it needs to succeed in the cutthroat GTLM-class competition. We aim to prove this at the next race by continuing our winning streak there and taking the lead with the latest version of the RSR for the first time in the 2020 season. Sebring is our track!”

 

Earl Bamber (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “After two double podium results for the Porsche 911 RSR at the first two rounds of the season, our goal is clear: we want to clinch the first win. The signs look good. Our car is definitely competitive. Porsche has won the Sebring 12 Hours in recent years, and our tests there with the new vehicle ran well. The heat will certainly be difficult to cope with. The name of the game on this extremely challenging and bumpy racetrack is to maintain full concentration at all times. That’ll be a key factor to a possible success.”

   

Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “In view of the heat forecast for Sebring, it’ll be extremely exhausting. At Daytona recently, it was very warm, but there were more opportunities there for us drivers to catch our breath. That is certainly not the case at Sebring. Because of these conditions, the teams might opt for an additional driver change. On the other hand, we’re now in the lead after two second places. If we keep finishing second and defend the title, I could easily live with that.”

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