• Wheel of Fortune. Porsche “Works” and Customer Teams Chase Petit Le Mans Success.
• Job: Well Done. Sebastian Job Crowned Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup Champ. • Wright Rolling. Charlotte Yields Third Consecutive IMSA Podium for Wright Motorsports.
Event Story Lines.
Wheel of Fortune. Porsche “Works” and Customer Teams Chase Petit Le Mans Success.
The Porsche GT Team is looking to turn its fortunes at the site of its greatest achievement: the Petit Le Mans. In 2015, the Porsche GT Team triumphed in what was presumed to be unattainable, bettering a field of the world’s best prototype and GT machines to win one of the most challenging motorsport events on the planet. In a relentless deluge that ended the race early, the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR crossed the finish line first to carve its name into the history books as a “giant killer”. The 10-hour classic, which will be celebrating it 23rd running on October 17, will see the two-car GTLM class factory effort return to Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta looking to redeem a season of unrequited effort. In the customer-focused GTD class, Porsche privateer Wright Motorsports comes to the Braselton, Georgia-area on the opposite side of the pendulum having secured three consecutive podium finishes in recent IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races. The recognized patriarch of modern sports car racing, Porsche has a record-setting 24 class victories in the Petit Le Mans, including the unprecedented 2015 overall victory and three class victories in the one-make GTC category. Porsche has participated in every Petit Le Mans held since 1998.
The No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R leads a two-team contingent of race cars in the Pro-Am style GTD class. The Ohio-based operation headed by John Wright adds veteran Porsche pilot Jan Heylen (Belgium) to the cockpit mix with full-season regulars Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California) – North America’s only Porsche factory driver – and local driver Ryan Hardwick (Atlanta, Georgia). The trio started a three-race streak of top-threes here at the 2.54-mile, 12-turn track in a six-hour race on September 6. The consistent success has moved them into the championship hunt – tied for second-place – with three races remaining. The program had their highest finish of the season to-date – a second-place with Long/Hardwick – at the most recent round held on the October 10 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Returning to the series this weekend will be Pfaff Motorsports. The No. 9 “Plaid Porsche” of the Canadian Porsche dealer has been unable to compete due to restrictions involving COVID-19 since the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona in January. Their 500+ HP machine will be piloted by Zach Robichon (Canada), Dennis Olsen (Norway) and Porsche Test and Development Driver Lars Kern (Germany).
If 2020 has been a year of frustration, 2015 was a season of celebration. Then in its second season as a factory team in IMSA, the North American arm of the GTLM class “works” program, commanded the all-manufacturer class winning the Driver, Team and Manufacturer Championships culminated by the Petit Le Mans overall victory. After a trying season thus far in 2020, the two-car “works” team comes to “Petit” looking for redemption on the hills and valleys of one of the most dauntingly fast tracks on the planet. Nick Tandy (Great Britain) was part of that 2015 success in the wet. This weekend he will be teamed for ten-hours with full-season driving mate Frédéric Makowiecki (France) and endurance race addition Matt Campbell (Australia) in the No. 911. In 2019, Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) clinched the GTLM drivers’ championship at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. On Saturday, they will challenge for their first win of the season in 515 Hp No. 912 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR-19 with Mathieu Jaminet (France) providing support.
Patrick Long, Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“We love the thought of endurance racing because it allows us to expand on the strengths we have as a team. But we are also very realistic that our competition is getting stronger every weekend. There is no time to rest on our laurels. We can’t think that our results from the six-hour at Road Atlanta or the last few races is anything to just sit back and reflect on. We are looking ahead. We know we have to hit our marks. There is going to be heavy competition as the season’s conclusion starts to take shape and as a team, we have to keep racing hard all the way to the end of the year.”
Ryan Hardwick, Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“I call Atlanta home, and I’ve been coming to watch this race for as long as I can remember. It’s always been a dream of mine to one day compete in this great race, and ultimately win it! Our team has some great momentum going right now and it couldn’t be happening at a better time. There are only three races left in the championship, and two of those are endurance rounds, which is where our Wright Motorsports team really shines. I’m also super pumped to have Jan Heylen back with us for these last couple of endurance races. I think we‘ve got the people and the tools in place to battle for the top spot on the podium this weekend and be right there in contention for the championship at season’s end.”
Steve Bortolotti, Team Manager, No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“I couldn’t be more excited to return to the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship this weekend for Motul Petit Le Mans. We had a solid test at CTMP on Saturday and are looking forward to a strong showing for Motul, Pfaff and Porsche at this historic event. Our team has been keeping busy within Canada since putting our IMSA program on hold in March, but we are thrilled to see the Motul Plaid Porsche back in action on one of North America’s best road courses at Road Atlanta.”
Lars Kern, Driver, No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“It’s just amazing to be back after such a long break. It has been a strange thing for me to be following IMSA and not see our car. I have been cheering for the GTLM factory guys and the Wright team but it is great to be back. We have some unfinished business after Daytona, so we are all really looking forward to going back racing in the U.S. Last year we finished third and we want to put the Pfaff car back on the podium. The Nürburgring 24 is just around the corner for Dennis and myself. Conditions have been super cold and rainy [in Germany]. It’s going to be great to race in Atlanta without skiing underwear! I am looking forward to a great weekend.”
Dennis Olsen, Driver, No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“I can't wait to get back to racing in IMSA again. After a long break it will be great seeing everyone at Pfaff Motorsport – it's been a long time coming, but I'm super confident about the weekend and stoked to work with the team again. I’m looking forward to exploring a new track and getting back to speed. The guys have put a huge effort into making this race happen, so from the drivers’ perspective we want to give it 110% and go for the win.”
Zach Robichon, Driver, No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“To say we're excited to be back would be an understatement. I’ve been looking forward to getting our Pfaff Porsche back on track since January! It will be a difficult task having missed so many races, but the team was able to shake the rust off in a short and positive test at CTMP last week. I’m sure this will help everyone and myself get back up to speed quickly after our time away from the championship."
Job: Well Done. Sebastian Job Crowned Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup Champ.
Sebastian Job has won the 2020 Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup championship. At the last race of the season on the simulated Monza Grand Prix circuit, the British sim driver from the Red Bull Racing Esport team took the championship trophy from the defending champion Joshua Rogers of the VRS Coanda Simsport program. The Australian had to settle for second-place in the virtual Porsche one-make series. Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup is run on the iRacing simulation platform with the digital version of the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car.
Heading into the season finale, Rogers still had a chance to wrest the crown from Jobs. In the qualifying, he underlined his ambitions and turned the fastest lap for the eighth time this year. His advantage over Job, however, was only four-thousandths of a second. Due to the reverse starting order in the sprint race, as stipulated by the regulations, the two rivals for the title stated the race from positions seven and eight. Jamie Fluke (Great Britain) spearheaded the field from pole position, with Spain’s Alejandro Sánchez and the British Red Bull Racing Esport driver Graham Carroll lining up behind him. In the first lap, Job and Roger treated viewers to some inspired duels. A few minutes later, the championship title was decided when a collision between two drivers in front of the title aspirants resulted in the cars touching. Job fell back to eleventh-place, with Rogers thrown down the field to 25th. Although the championship was in the bag, Job launched a breathtaking pursuit race and was ultimately rewarded with fifth-place. With Rogers finishing in 24th-positon, this result was enough for the British sim racer to claim the title after the sprint race. At the front of the pack, Carroll fended off Fluke, Sánchez and the Norwegian Tommy Östgaard to score his second win of the season.
The streak of bad luck followed Joshua Rogers into the main event. The Australian spun while braking for the second chicane and fell back to 28th-place. At the lead, Carroll outpaced Fluke and Östgaard at the start. However, it took only two laps for Job to plough from fifth and chase down the leaders. In the fight for victory, Östgaard threw caution to the wind and squeezed past Job with an impressive out braking maneuver. The newly crowned champion fell back to sixth-place but soon fought his way back into the leading pack. After a gripping wheel-to-wheel battle with Östgaard, Carroll once again took the winner’s trophy. Behind him, the Norwegian missed the braking point for the first chicane. He was handed a slow-down penalty, which relegated him to third-place behind Job. Recovering from his early mishap, Joshua Rogers made up 19 positions to take the flag in fifth-place.
In 2021, the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup heads into its third season, with the first round scheduled to be run on January 9 at the virtual Interlagos Grand Prix circuit in Brazil. The racing calendar is made up of ten rounds running through late April run on the iRacing simulation platform and contested at venues such as the Nürburgring-Nordschleife, the Circuit des 24 Heures in Le Mans and the Formula 1 street circuit of Montréal.
Marco Ujhasi, Manager Esports Porsche Motorsport.
“Congratulations to Sebastian Job on his well-deserved title victory. He was super-fast over the entire season and impressed with his incredible consistency. The level of driving skill in the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup was extremely high this year. This makes us all the more excited about next season, which begins in early January. My special thanks to iRacing and all of our partners for their great support.”
Sebastian Job, Red Bull Racing Esports.
“It’ll take a while before I realize that I’ve won the title. I would never have thought it possible when I started sim racing. I’m lost for words. It was fantastic to cross the finish line with my teammate Graham Carroll. Now I can’t wait for the next season, which will start soon.”
Joshua Rogers, VRS Coanda Simsport.
“First of all, congratulations to Seb Job, he really deserves the title. Obviously, I’m a little disappointed, but at the same time, I’m satisfied. The sprint race didn’t go as I’d planned. In the main race, I started from 24th and finished on fifth – that was a fun way to conclude the season.”
Wright Rolling. Charlotte Yields Third Consecutive IMSA Podium for Wright Motorsports.
Wright Motorsports continued its success streak in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship on Saturday, October 10. In the one-hour, 40-minute sprint race on the Charlotte Roval, works driver Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California) and his teammate Ryan Hardwick (Atlanta, Georgia) earned a hard-fought second-place finish in the GTD class under difficult wet conditions. This marks the third straight podium result for the Porsche customer team based in Batavia, Ohio. The challenges for the Porsche GT Team – the official factory operation competing in the GTLM class – continued at round eight of North America’s premier sports car racing series. For both Porsche 911 RSR race cars, the evening event in Concord, North Carolina ended after just 20 minutes as a result of damage to both cars.
The first race of the IMSA series at the combination oval and road course started an hour later than planned due to delays in the previous NASCAR Xfinity Series event. Facing heavy rain and poor visibility, Frédéric Makowiecki (France) initially managed to defend his second starting position in the No. 911 car, with Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) working his way from sixth-place on the grid to fourth in the No. 912. However, after just four laps, the Belgian hit the track barriers with his ca. 515 hp GTLM car. The damages to the rear of the defending champion’s 911 RSR were too serious to continue, and the car he shares with Earl Bamber (New Zealand) was out of the race after just ten minutes.
In the meantime, the Frenchman Makowiecki battled against several rivals and spun in the first corner on the seventh lap. Like his teammate Vanthoor, the resulting contact with the track barriers caused considerable damage, in this case to the front of the car. The damages to the No. 911 contender were also so severe that repairs needed to get the car back into the 100-minute sprint race would have taken longer than the remaining time would have warranted. The Porsche GT Team had to withdraw the second RSR from the race after around 20 minutes before Nick Tandy (Great Britain) could take the wheel for his first stint.
However, the privateer entrant Wright Motorsports continued its streak of success in the Pro-Am style class. Hardwick had qualified the 500+hp Porsche 911 GT3 R in a strong fifth position in for the final GT-only race of the season. In the first 30 minutes of the race, the amateur driver lost a little ground in the No. 16 car before handing the car over to North Americas only Porsche factory driver at the first pit stop. Long quickly sliced his way through the field and crossed the finish line in second-place, Closing on the leader in the closing moment of the race, Long was just a narrow 1.497-seconds behind the class winner. In the overall standings, the duo has advanced to second-place.
In the GTLM class of the manufacturers’ championship, Porsche ranks in third-place after eight rounds. In the drivers’ classification, the two crews Makowiecki/Tandy and Bamber/Vanthoor lie in fifth and sixth-place respectively.
Round nine of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the so-called Petit Le Mans, is scheduled for October 17 at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia.
Patrick Long, Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“That was an unbelievable race. Ovals at night in the rain are a trifecta of things that challenge drivers in many aspects. Ryan did a great job keeping his composure, turning a clean car over to us. We made a lot of time up in our pit stops. We got into the groove and tried to manage tire pressures. It was hard to battle Mario and Jack. Then on the restart, we had a chance with Bill, who was the car to beat this evening. It was great points day for us an unbelievable effort by the team to have us up there fighting for the victory at the end.
Ryan Hardwick, Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“That was quite possibly the most difficult race I’ve ever competed in! The Charlotte Roval presents enough challenges itself to the teams and drivers as far as combining all the different track surfaces, the extreme banking and the concrete walls everywhere. Then you throw in the added difficulty of limited visibility from the darkness of night, as well as an absolute downpour of rain from a tropical depression that lasted the entire race! I think every driver and team would agree that this event was one we will all remember for a long time. Our Wright Motorsports guys gave Pat and I a great car to drive, and we absolutely nailed the single pit stop of the race, gaining four positions in the process! Momentum is a great thing to have in any situation, and in racing, it’s very hard to beat. Right now, the momentum is definitely on our side, and it couldn’t be happening at a more important time with only three races to go in the season. We are all extremely focused on taking this championship fight right down to the very last lap of the season at Sebring. I’m looking also forward to heading back to my hometown track for the Petit Le Mans next weekend and keeping this momentum rolling!
Steffen Höllwarth, Head of Operations IMSA Championship.
“We had big plans and the race started well but then the event came to an abrupt halt for us after just 20 minutes. Both vehicles hit the barriers in heavy rain. We weren’t able to do the necessary repairs within the short time available. That’s bitter for our entire team. We have a lot of work to do before the next race.”
Frédéric Makowiecki, Driver, No. 911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“First, I have to let this sink in. I’m deeply disappointed. After the qualifying, things seemed really good. The second grid spot looked promising for the race. But heavy rain threw a spanner in the works. We had massive problems with aquaplaning and the car just couldn’t be controlled. We’ve had difficulties in heavy rain throughout the year.”
Nick Tandy, Driver, No. 911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“I didn’t turn a single race lap so I can’t really comment on the events. Let me focus on the positive. I very much enjoyed the fact that we discovered uncharted territory in the IMSA series with the Charlotte Roval. The course is a huge challenge. That became very obvious today. Now we’ll throw ourselves into preparing for the upcoming race at Road Atlanta.”
Laurens Vanthoor, Driver, No. 912 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“Crash in qualifying, crash in the race. Quite honestly, that was my worst performance in years. I don’t know what happened. It just didn’t work. We had hardly any grip in the rain. We had nothing to lose so I tried everything to match the pace of the leaders. Unfortunately, it went terribly wrong.”
Earl Bamber, Driver, No. 912 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“Not our day. Rain is always associated with difficulty for us. We had massive aquaplaning on the extremely wet track. The car very quickly ended up in one of the walls that stand very close to the track edge at Charlotte. Now we’re looking forward to Petit Le Mans. The race runs over ten hours. That should suit us better – at least if it stays dry in Georgia.”
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