• Welcome to the Clubsport. Porsche 911 GT2 RS and Cayman GT4 Clubsport Models Earn Pikes Peak Wins. • Coming Home. Porsche Looks to Get Back in Winner’s Circle at Home Track. • SRO Focus. Porsche Teams Look for Titles • First Laps. Works Driver Wehrlein Makes First Laps in Porsche 99X Electric Formula E Car.
Event Story Lines.
Welcome to the Clubsport. Porsche 911 GT2 RS and Cayman GT4 Models Earn Pikes Peak Wins.
Even entering the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb requires a special type of person. Recognized as one of the most dangerous motorsport events in North America, it is also viewed as one of its most eloquent. A mechanical and biological ballet that pits driver verse machine verse nature. In its 98-runnings, the race up “America’s Mountain” has chosen a select few to call “winners”; and make no mistake, the mountain itself plays a major role in who is crowned champion each year. It is a club reserved for a select few who can overcome Mother Nature, machinery and their own fears. In 2020, two Porsche drivers earned division titles in the “Race to the Clouds”: veteran David Donner (Colorado Springs, Colorado) added to one of the sport’s most prestigious resumes in a Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport while motocross and X Games medalist Blake “Bilko” Williams (native of Australia now living in Murrieta, California) took the Porsche Pikes Peak Trophy by Yokohama in his first appearance on August 30. Porsche now has 29 victories at the Colorado Springs, Colorado-area event – including two overall wins.
The 12.42-mile, two-lane road snakes over 156 turns as it climbs from its 9,390-foot starting line to the finish at 14,115-feet. The all-time race record is seven-minutes, 57.148-seconds set by Porsche factory driver Roman Dumas (France) in 2018 driving the electric Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak prototype race car. The current Time Attack 1 record for four-wheel drive, production-based cars is 9:23.721 established in 2019 by French rally racer Raphael Astier in a modified Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car which had been fitted with a turbocharger. Travis Pastrana (Annapolis, Maryland) holds the Porsche Pikes Peak Trophy by Yokohama course record in a Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport at 10:33.897 set the first year of the division, 2018.
Despite being moved from its traditional early summer date to the end of August and a ban on spectators due to the worldwide pandemic, the 98th Running of the Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb became one of the most exciting in recent memory. At the center of the story was a trio of Porsche 911 GT2 RS-based race cars, each manned by a Pikes Peak winner with deep ties to the German marque. Each looked capable of not only a Time Attack 1 Division win and record but possibly the overall “King of the Mountain” title for 2020 as well. While Donner’s time of 9:36.559 ultimately proved to be third-quickest behind two open wheel Pikes Peak specials, the local’s time was best of the nine cars entered in the class.
For the Time Attack Division winner, the COVID delay was a benefit. Put together in three weeks from concept to run, the No. 000 Porsche program didn’t even exist when the original race date passed. Donner is a three-time King of The Mountain having set the year’s best time in 1991, 2002 and 2005. The Coloradan’s link to Porsche dates back to his father, Robert, Jr., who piloted the legendary Porsche RSK to three victories (1959 – ’61) and an RS-61 to another division win in 1962. The livery that adorned the sleek aggressive lines of the “Triple Zero” 911 GT2 RS Clubsport was the brainchild of 000 Magazine creative director Justin Page. 000, pronounced triple-zero, is the Porsche-focused quarterly publication founded by Pete Stout.
A 2016 inductee into the Pikes Peak Hill Climb Museum Hall of Fame, Donner was one of two drivers allowed to carry the white windshield banner of a Hall of Fame member. The other was Jeff Zwart (Aspen, Colorado/Long Beach, California) who piloted the E-Motion Engineering-prepared No. 11 Mobil 1/Road Scholars Porsche 935-19 up to the finish line in a time of 9:43.921. Zwart’s effort in the Porsche 935 “Moby Dick”-inspired livery was good for second in class, fifth-place overall. The 935-19 is, at its heart, a Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport with bodywork visually reminiscent of the legendary Porsche 935 GT prototypes of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Zwart set the fastest time of the day in the fourth and final sector of the course. Zwart is an eight-time winner of the event (1994-’98, 2002, 2010, 2015), all in Porsche 911 models.
Leading the pack for most of the week was former 24 Hours of Daytona overall and class winner David Donohue (West Chester, Pennsylvania) driving a Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport. The past division-winner brought the track-only derivative of the turbocharged, flat-six road car to Pikes Peak tuned by veteran, record-holding BBi Autosport. His qualifying time on Friday, August 28 gave Donohue the best spot on the run order for Sunday morning. However, a long delay to remove ice at the finish line moved all competitors out of the prime time of the day when temperatures have warmed the surface but not given way to the afternoon heat. Donohue took the green flag 12th in line, directly after the four entrants of the one-make Porsche division. Despite having his first two sector times quicker than that Donner would put in, the bright yellow Porsche slide off the track and damaged the left-rear wheel too badly to continue. Donohue was not injured in the incident.
Four participants ran in the Porsche Pikes Peak Trophy by Yokohama Division. With each participant racing variants of the Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport, the competition was again intense. However, it was veteran “Bilko” Williams that set the pace for the one-make division in a car prepared by Nolasport. The New Orleans-based Porsche prep and race shop has extensive experience with the Porsche GT4-entry having commanded the SRO GT4 America series thus far in 2020. His lap of 10:52.622 was not enough to reset the Division record in its third year but it bested veteran George Hess III (Colorado Springs, Colorado) who ran a time of 11:06.789 in the No. 744 and Kathryn Mead (Austin, Texas) – the only woman in the race this year – who ran a 11:36.345 in the No. 50. Mead was uniquely honored as the “Rookie of the Year” for 2020. William’s red and black Yokohama-livered Cayman was also quicker than Charlie “Chas” Wirken’s No. 903. The Pikes Peak rookie raced up the Mountain in 11:55.228.
David Donner, Driver, No. 000 Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport.
“It was typical ‘race day’ conditions on Pikes Peak: very slippery or loose with gravel from the previous night’s rain. I hadn’t been crossed up during any testing or practice but race day saw full corrections and excitement the entire run. This program was established less than three weeks ago and we won from good old fashion experience and professionalism with all involved. How remarkable is it to take a stock racing Porsche and run it up Pikes Peak And finish with such a fast time? Wow! What a huge accomplishment for 000 Magazine and all of our sponsors; Meguiar’s, Chopard, Champion Porsche, Michelin, Heuberger, Porsche Motorsport and many others… especially my family.”
Jeff Zwart, Driver, No. 11 Mobil 1/Road Scholars Porsche 935-19.
“It was an incredible week driving the 935 but race day is a different thing. You have to lay it on the line. I knew I hadn’t driven the first sector committed enough. I knew I had lost quite a bit of time so I kept pushing harder. The car kept feeling better and better. At the top, I pushed super, super hard. Joey Seely with E-Motion Engineering had given me an incredible setup that worked great everywhere on the Mountain but especially on the top and we set the fastest overall time on the day in the final sector. We came up short on time but we got a podium and top-five overall. It was a special day to have two Porsches in the top-five overall. It was very special to me to make an international debut for the 935. I am very proud of my team. The Michelin tires worked incredibly well and it was great to team up with long-term partner Mobil 1.”
Jeff Zwart, About the Porsche Pikes Peak Trophy.
“I was really proud of the competitors this year. Everybody really settled in and had a great run on the day. Not a single driver set a wheel wrong. Proud of Blake Williams for his run to the summit. It was a great group of drivers and we look forward to maintaining the momentum next year.”
Betim Berisha, Principal, BBi Autosport, No. 911 Porsche Colorado Springs-Porsche of The Main Line Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport.
“We learned a lot. We showed our poise and our potential as a team. I want to thank the Porsche Motorsport crew as well as Porsche Colorado Springs, Porsche of The Main Line and our technical partners Yokohama Tire and Performance Friction Brakes for all the support. We will be back bigger and faster next year.”
Coming Home. Porsche Looks to Get Back in Winner’s Circle at Home Track.
A race at its North American home track, Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta (MRRA), might be just what the Porsche GT Team needs to capture its first race victory of the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. In fact, the pair of factory Porsche 911 RSR-19 race cars will have two tries at the 2.54-mile, Braselton, Georgia-area track to tick the win column. The 12-turn circuit northeast of the state capital of Georgia is near Porsche Cars North America (PCNA) headquarters in Atlanta giving a hometown feel to the events. The Michelin Endurance Challenge Weekend will be highlighted by the six-hour Tirerack.com Grand Prix at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on September 5. The “make-up” race for the annual Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen (New York) will proceed the ten-hour Motul Petit Le Mans on October 17. The two “works” Porsche entries of Fred Makowiecki (France) / Nick Tandy (Great Britain) in No. 911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR-19 and Earl Bamber (New Zealand) / Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) in the No. 912, will fight for GTLM class honors. The No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R of Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California) and Ryan Hardwick (Atlanta, Georgia) will represent long storied Porsche privateer entrant tradition in the GTD class.
Despite the lack of a GTLM class victory thus far, Porsche remains deep in the battle to defend its 2019 IMSA Driver, Team and Manufacturer titles in the class. Bamber and Vanthoor are currently second in the Drivers’ Championship with 146 points, 19 behind the No. 3 Corvette factory drivers. The No. 912 is the same amount behind in the Team Championship. Another three points back are Makowiecki / Tandy in fourth-position. Porsche is in fourth-place of the Manufacturer’s title with 156 points to Corvette’s 170.
Porsche has a strong history at its home race track. Famously, the factory team with Tandy, Patrick Pilet (France) and Richard Lietz (Austria) won the race overall in 2015. Tandy repeated with a class win in 2018 sharing duties with Pilet and current team partner Makowiecki. Bamthor – the popular pairing of Bamber and Vanthoor – secured their first IMSA title at Road Atlanta in 2019.
While Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta will hold the 23rd running of the Petit Le Mans on October 17, two races in a season at MRRA have not been uncommon. In fact, nine times two IMSA races have been held at the track in a single season. Further, this is not the first time that a six-hour IMSA race has been held in Braselton. In 1974, Al Holbert and Elliot Forbes-Robinson drove a Porsche Carrera RSR to victory in the only other time the six-hour distance has been held at Road Atlanta.
Practice for the TireRack.com Grand Prix at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta will get underway on Friday, September 4 with qualifying for the GT cars on Friday evening starting at 6:35 p.m. ET. The six-hour WeatherTech Championship race will take the green flag at 11:35 a.m. ET / 8:35 a.m. PT on Saturday, September 5 with the checkered flag scheduled to fall at 5:35 p.m. ET. The full race can be viewed live in the United States with TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. NBC Sports will broadcast the first hour live from 11:30 a.m. ET and the remainder of the race beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET through the post-race ceremonies.
SRO Focus. Porsche Teams Look for Titles
With two event weekends remaining in the 2020 season of the SRO GT World Challenge America and SRO GT4 America championships, points are becoming the focus for contenders while wins remain the only target for others.
In the single driver, 50-minute GT4 America Sprint rounds at Road America, Spencer Pumpelly (Atlanta, Georgia) returned the No. 66 TRG Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport to the winner’s circle. The veteran driver and team have been podium finisher and contenders throughout the season but it had been since the first race back after the COVID-19 lockdown – VIRginia International Raceway – that the team had last visited victory lane. The program continues to look toward the 2020 SRO GT4 America Sprint Championship title for Drivers, Team and Porsche.
Nolasport brought four Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport race cars to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin spread across the Sprint and SprintX series. In addition, a fifth Porsche GT4 car was prepared for the 98th Running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado. Blake “Bilko” Williams took the No. 22 Yokohama Tire-supported machine to the Porsche Pikes Peak Trophy Division victory with a time of 10-minutes, 52.622-seconds up “America’s Mountain”.
In Wisconsin, the No. 7 Nolasport Porsche 718 GT4 Cayman Clubsport of Zac Anderson and Sean Gibbons continued their winning ways in the Am class earning two victories in the three 60-minute SprintX races.
Wright Motorsports also continued its strong performance in the Am category, this time in the SRO GT World Challenge America for GT3-spec cars. Porsche Young Driver Academy North America graduate Max Root and IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA alum Fred Poordad took the class victory in both 90-minute races over the weekend. Race 1 also supplied a third-place finish overall for the longtime Porsche entrant.
In the GT Sports Club (GTSC) event for GT2 cars, 311RS Motorsports’ Ryan Gates won Race 1 of the two race weekend and narrowly missed out on victory in Race 2 driving the No. 311 Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport racer.
Fred Poordad, Driver, No. 20 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“The team did a great job of giving us a car that was really competitive. Max drove outstanding in both races. In race one we both did a good job but in race two I was ailing a little bit and we weren’t able to cap off what was an amazing first stint by Max. It was a great team effort but we have some things left to work on going forward.”
Max Root, Driver, No. 20 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“We had some steam rolling in to Road America from Sonoma. We were excited to get on track and everything went smoothly all weekend. We had a great showing on Saturday with good speed for both of us and the car had a lot of speed. On Sunday we had a good first stint but we had a few issues during the second stint. Overall it was a good weekend and we are going to walk away with some points.”
Zac Anderson, Driver, No. 7 Nolasport Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport.
“We had pretty close to a perfect weekend. I’ll lose a couple nights worth of sleep trying to figure out how we can optimize our driver change... you just never know when your next opportunity to win will come, so when you throw one away it’s tough. That was our only mistake all weekend. Hopefully we can get that dialed in for COTA, and potentially go for a ‘threepeat’ at our home track! Huge thanks to Porsche Fresno for getting us to Wisconsin, Sean Gibbons and OGH Motorsports for trusting me in their machinery and Nolasport for crafting an incredible Porsche race car. Jason Hart and Scott Besst are the wizards at this and I can’t thank them enough, either!”
Sean Gibbons, Driver, No. 7 Nolasport Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport.
“Incredible weekend here at Road America! The Nolasport team did such a fantastic job and gave us an amazing Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport. Zac did a great job driving the car. For me, it was the fastest I’ve been here, so to come home with two wins and a second-place finish, and to increase our lead in the championship, was amazing. I couldn’t ask for a better weekend.”
First Laps. Works Driver Wehrlein Makes First Laps in Porsche 99X Electric Formula E Car.
Pascal Wehrlein (Germany) has completed his first miles behind the wheel of the Porsche 99X Electric race car. The new regular driver for the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team took to the track for the first time in his new car during a two-day test in Germany. Porsche works driver André Lotterer (Germany) joined his new teammate for the first test following the German sports car manufacturer’s debut season in the all-electric racing series. They both completed an extensive program that provided the team with important findings regarding the development of the new powertrain planned for Season 7.
In total, Lotterer and Wehrlein covered 427.5-miles (688 kilometers) in the Porsche 99X Electric. The tests in Germany came just days after the end of the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team’s rookie season and marked the start of preparations for the coming year. The first race of Season 7 is scheduled for January 16, 2021 in Santiago, Chile.
Amiel Lindesay, Head of Operations Formula E.
“It was a very successful first test – so soon after the end of our first Formula E season. We tested the powertrain for the coming year and made some valuable findings. Everything we have to sort for Season 7 is moving in the right direction. This is confirmed by both the data we have gathered and the feedback from the drivers. Details in the areas of hardware and software will make all the difference. We are on track, but still have a lot of work ahead of us. It was obviously also a nice moment to see Pascal Wehrlein sitting behind the wheel of the Porsche 99X Electric for the first time. He is coming in from a different team and brings his experience with him. His feedback was very positive and we are looking forward to working with him.”
André Lotterer, Driver, TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team.
"The break after the races in Berlin was a short one. It was an extremely productive test and, at the same time, it was interesting to see what experience Pascal has brought with him from his time in Formula E. The cooperation with him has been good and the development for Season 7 gives me great optimism.”
Pascal Wehrlein, Driver, TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team.
“The team has given me a warm welcome. I felt right at home from the word go. It was nice to be back in a Formula E car after almost six months away. It is a fantastic feeling to experience the acceleration and forces. There was obviously a lot for me to learn in a new team and with the new car. Generally speaking, I have a very good feeling in the Porsche 99X Electric. I must now continue to get used to everything.”
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- Image courtesy of Porsche/Marc Urbano