- California hosts round three of the IMSA series
- Porsche Penske Motorsport targets a top result with the 963
- Short 100-minute race on the narrow city street circuit
- Customer teams field five 911 GT3 R in the GT classes
The Porsche Penske Motorsport switches from long distance to sprint mode with the Porsche 963 in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship: next up on the calendar is the Long Beach event – which is the shortest race of the season at just 100 minutes long. In the US state of California, the two factory hybrid prototypes in the GTP category face their first street course. Four Porsche customer teams take on the competition in the GTD-Pro and GTD classes with five Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Stuttgart. Porsche Penske Motorsport travels to round three of the North American IMSA series in Long Beach feeling highly motivated. After the dramatic 12-hour race in Sebring, the factory squad is now determined to bring home a top result from the Pacific Coast of the United States with the Porsche 963. However, the contrasts could hardly be greater: Next up after the two longest races of the year comes the shortest event of the season – with the short 100-minute sprint on the 3.167-kilometre city circuit held as part of the IndyCar Grand Prix weekend. Qualifying for the event is particularly critical: overtaking on the Long Beach Street Circuit is rare and when all goes well, the teams come into the pits only once.
“After the spectacle in Sebring, our Porsche Penske Motorsport now faces the next highlight,” explains Thomas Laudenbach, Vice President Porsche Motorsport. “Racing on the streets around Long Beach has a very different character compared to the first two events of the season at Daytona and Sebring. It’ll be an intense sprint. We’ve worked meticulously to prepare our two Porsche 963 for this special challenge. After narrowly missing out on our first victory at Sebring, we have a clear goal for Long Beach. I’m looking forward to an exciting race in the GTD classes and I’m certain that our customer teams can be winners with the Porsche 911 GT3 R.”
“First we tackled the two endurance races in Florida over 24 and 12 hours, next up is the short sprint in Long Beach – the challenges in the early part of the IMSA season could hardly be more different,” exclaims Urs Kuratle. The Director Factory Motorsport LMDh adds: “We drew important conclusions from our outing in Sebring. Now we finally want to reap the rewards in Long Beach. Our two Porsche Penske Motorsport squads again face another intense weekend: while the IMSA team competes in California, the WEC crew will be tackling round two of the world championship in Portimão. We aim to score maximum points on both sides of the Atlantic.”
Jonathan Diuguid, Managing Director Porsche Penske Motorsport: “We are ready to tackle something different this week, with the first sprint race of the year at Long Beach. These types of races play out totally different than the endurance events, so as a team we need to have a different mindset and a different type of preparation in the shop. For us, we are encouraged by the speed we had in Sebring and hope that can transfer over to Long Beach. This is an important race for us as well, because we will be sharing the weekend with our Team Penske counterparts in INDYCAR, so there will be a lot of eyes on how we perform. Our goal is to qualify up front, minimize mistakes and hopefully bring home the win at one of the legendary races in North America.”
The IMSA race
Round three of this year’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will be contested on the Long Beach Grand Prix Circuit. The 3.167-kilometre city circuit features eleven turns and is regarded as the American equivalent of the Monaco Grand Prix. The course runs in a clockwise direction around the Long Beach Convention Center. Its special features include the sweeping start-finish straight along the Pacific coast and the sharp right-hander at the end of the lap. The temporary circuit has served as a racetrack since 1975 and hosted Formula 1 eight times between 1976 and 1983. On the third weekend in April, the popular American IndyCar series will be contested at Long Beach, in which Team Penske is also represented with a team.
The Porsche teams and drivers
Four regular IMSA drivers share the cockpits of the two Porsche 963 fielded by the Porsche Penske Motorsport factory squad in the GTP class. Nick Tandy from the UK and Frenchman Mathieu Jaminet helm the No. 6 vehicle, with the No. 7 sister car shared by Australian Matt Campbell and Felipe Nasr from Brazil.
In the GTD-Pro class, Austria’s Klaus Bachler and Patrick Pilet from France drive Pfaff Motorsports’ No. 9 Porsche 911 GT3 R. In the GTD category, Kelly-Moss with Riley fields two of the ca. 416 kW (565 PS) Porsche. Sharing driving duties in the No. 91 car are Alan Metni from the USA and the Porsche North America selected driver, Kay van Berlo from the Netherlands. Two Americans David Brule and Alec Udel drive No. 92 entry campaigned by the customer team from the US state of Wisconsin.
Alan Brynjolfsson and Trent Hindman from America compete for Wright Motorsports as the regular drivers in the No. 77 Porsche. AO Racing relies on PJ Hyett from the USA and Sebastian Priaulx from the UK. Thanks to its distinctive dinosaur livery, their bright green No. 80 Porsche 911 GT3 R has been nicknamed “Rexy”.
An overview of the teams and drivers
GTP-class (Porsche 963):
Porsche Penske Motorsport (#6): Mathieu Jaminet (F), Nick Tandy (UK)
Porsche Penske Motorsport (#7): Matt Campbell (AUS), Felipe Nasr (BR)
GTD-Pro class (Porsche 911 GT3 R):
Pfaff Motorsports (#9): Klaus Bachler (A), Patrick Pilet (F)
GTD-class (Porsche 911 GT3 R):
Wright Motorsports (#77): Alan Brynjolfsson (USA), Trent Hindman (USA)
AO Racing (#80): PJ Hyett (USA), Sebastian Priaulx (UK)
Kelly-Moss with Riley (#91): Alan Metni (USA), Kay van Berlo (NL)
Kelly-Moss with Riley (#92): David Brule (USA), Alec Udel (USA)
The schedule (local time, CEST -9 hours)
Friday, 14 April
9:00 am – 10:00 am: Free practice 1
12:45 pm – 2:30 pm: Free practice 2
5:15 pm – 5:30 pm: Qualifying GTD-Pro/GTD
5:40 pm – 6:00 pm: Qualifying GTP
Saturday, 15 April
2:05 pm – 3:45 pm: Race (100 minutes)
Drivers’ comments ahead of the race
Nick Tandy (Porsche 963 #6): “Long Beach should be fantastic in a GTP car. I’ve been lucky enough to compete there a lot but never in a prototype – that’s going to be exciting. Plus, we share the weekend with our Penske friends from the IndyCar series. Perhaps we could swap information which would assist both teams.”
Felipe Nasr (Porsche 963 #7): “We’re about to face the first street course of the season set against the unique backdrop of Long Beach. The circuit is super technical with several pretty tight corners but it’s also very exciting. I always enjoy going there, especially with its great vibes from the Californian fans. With many other series competing there, the level of grip usually increases during the weekend. This factor is the key to finding the best setup for the car. We learned a lot in Sebring, now we have to continue this work. We aim to climb to the top of the podium with our Porsche 963 soon.”
Klaus Bachler (Porsche 911 GT3 R #9): “I’ve never competed in Long Beach so again I’m stepping into new territory. However, there is one advantage: because it’s a temporary street course, nobody has been able to test and practice there before the race. I’ll definitely prepare well. Luckily, I have a great teammate with Patrick Pilet at my side. He knows the track and can share a few tips with me. I like street circuits and I’m super excited about the race weekend.”