• Page 1. Repeat Performance. Porsche Customer Teams Claim Back-to-Back Sebring Victories in All Classes. • Page 7. Successful Launch. Porsche Carrera Cup North America Makes High Marks in First Weekend. • Page 10. Double-Duty. Murry and Root Add Second Series to Carrera Cup North America at Sebring. • Page 11. Porsche Podium. Wright Debuts Root with Heylen to Earn Sebring Michelin Pilot Challenge Second-Place.
Repeat Performance. Porsche Customer Teams Claim Back-to-Back Sebring Victories in All Classes.
The Sebring International Raceway in Florida is a popular stage for Porsche and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring is a well-liked platform for the German sports car manufacturer. In its history, the marque leads nearly all performance categories at the 3,74-mile track including overall wins (18) and class victories. Class victories rose to 76 on Saturday, March 21 as Porsche customer teams won both the GTLM class with the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 RSR-19 and the GTD category with Pfaff Motorsports earning its first endurance victory in the No. 9 Porsche 911 GT3 R. It was the second Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in a row in which Porsche earned both class victories. In addition, it was the fourth-consecutive race win at the legendary circuit for the Porsche 911 RSR and third in a row for the 911 GT3 R.
Factory drivers played a key role in both classes as Mathieu Jaminet (France) and Matt Campbell (Australia) joined forces with Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Illinois) in the first North American customer-run Porsche 911 RSR-19 for the program’s first win in the top GT category. In the GTD class for vehicles complying with the FIA GT3 regulations, “works” driver Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium), Porsche development driver Lars Kern (Germany) and the Zacharie Robichon (Canada) won at the wheel of the No. 9 Porsche 911 GT3 R prepared by Pfaff Motorsports. Wright Motorsports rounded out the triumph for the sports car manufacturer from Stuttgart with second-place in the GTD division in the No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3 R race car with North America’s only Porsche factory driver Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California) leading the team of Jan Heylen (Belgium) and Trent Hindman (West Long Branch, New Jersey). Wright won the 2020 edition of the classic American endurance race.
Round three of the 2021 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will be contested on May 16 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Pascal Zurlinden, Director Factory Motorsport.
“We couldn’t have wished for a greater success for our fantastic customer teams. All in all, it was a banner weekend for Porsche. In the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, the 718 GT4 Clubsport set pole position and finished the race in second-place. At the debut of the Porsche Carrera Cup North America, 34 cars lined-up on the grid, including 23 brand-new 992-generation 911 GT3 Cup cars. This race gave fans a real treat. In the end, the Sebring class victories number 75 and 76 in the IMSA race are the crowning glory.”
Steffen Höllwarth, Head of GTLM Operations.
“That was a fantastic success at our Sebring home. It was the fourth class win in a row for our Porsche 911 RSR. And it was very special because this was the last time the GTLM class will race at Sebring.”
Sebastian Golz, Project Manager Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“A weekend couldn’t have ended better than this. All teams had the chance to finish on the podium. At the end of the day, there’s a one-two and a strong performance from Hardpoint EBM’s number 88 car.”
David MacNeil, Team Principal, WeatherTech Racing
“Porsche is known for racing cars at a technically perfect level. That’s why we decided to collaborate in the IMSA series. We’ve now harvested the fruits of this at only the second race. I’m very proud!”
Christian Ried, Team Principal, Proton Competition, Preprayer of the WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 RSR-19.
“Unbelievable! This was only our second race in the IMSA series. Our crew and all three drivers did a perfect job. At the end of the day, we kept our cool while the works teams shunted each other out of contention. We were very lucky to score third-place, but still, we deserved this win.”
Cooper MacNeil, Driver, No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 RSR.
“To have victory decided on the very last lap at a 12-hour race is just crazy! I’m ecstatic! Everyone in the team did a flawless job, and the Porsche 911 RSR was a real dream to drive in the race. I’m overwhelmed by this win.”
Laurens Vanthoor, Driver, No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“We made the most of our car’s great potential. We made no mistakes; we had no incidents and a perfect strategy. The caution phases at the end made things a little more exciting than we wanted. Prior to that, we’d eked out a decent advantage. But I stayed calm at the restart and made it to the finish line.”
Patrick Long, Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“It was a great end result after clawing back from an unfortunate penalty late in the race. The final restart was timing with traffic. Once we got into clear air, I thought we had something to fight for the win with the Pfaff car but in the end, it was just where the traffic caught you. Ultimately, a Porsche one-two is a great result. It is awesome to get the Wright car up into the championship lead and push forward into the rest of the season.”
Jan Heylen, Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“That is a good result with all the struggles we had today, including my mistake. For the championship, it was a great race. At the end of the day it was a good weekend. Of course you always want to win and it doesn’t always come your way. Well-deserved for the nine-car. I am happy that one of the Porsches won. I want to thank Ryan [Hardwick] and the whole team for their support. I look forward to coming back and doing it again.”
Trent Hindman, Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“Huge ‘thank you’ to the Wright Motorsports team, Johnny Wright and Ryan Hardwick for giving me the opportunity to run once again with these guys. It is an absolute pleasure. That was so close to a great result. We had a super-fast race car. At the end of the day, second puts these guys in a fantastic championship position. Of course, we always want to win but it is just good to see a Porsche upfront and to have Wright Motorsports in the hunt.”
Katherine Legge, Driver, No. 88 Team Hardpoint EBM Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“I’m really proud of the whole crew at Team Hardpoint EBM and this Richard Mille/Champion Porsche team. We worked really hard all week to make this car better and at the end we felt we deserved a podium; it just wasn’t meant to be. But our program is all about perseverance and we have a lot to build on moving forward. Christina and Bia did fantastic in their stints and our Porsche was really quick at the end of the race.”
Bia Figueiredo, Driver, No. 88 Team Hardpoint EBM Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“First of all, I’m super thankful to Team Hardpoint EBM, Katherine and Christina for inviting me to this race. I took last year off becoming a mom, and having a chance to come back here, I love this series. I was wondering if I was going to be slower after becoming a mom, and there’s no difference at all! I had a lot of fun and the performance was there. We struggled in practice to get up to speed and find a setup, even in qualifying, so if you’d have told me yesterday, we’d finish in the top five, that’s mega. We could visualize the podium, but five seconds later the drive-through message came through and disappointed all of us. There’s not much we can do about that, but I’m very thankful for the crew for all of their hard work. It was great. I’m super happy and thankful for our performance this weekend.”
Christina Nielsen, Driver, No. 88 Team Hardpoint EBM Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“We had a good car for the night, which gave Kat an opportunity to fight for the podium. It was a little bit more challenging during the day. It’s got to come to you and it did. It was nice to see that our engineers were on board with the setup there. It was just a great job by Team Hardpoint EBM and my teammates Katherine and Bia. It’s been a pleasure working with everyone and I think considering how short of a time we had to gel together I think it was quite impressive. This last moment unfortunately defines the final results, but I don’t want that to be the one thing that takes away all the good stuff that we produced. Going into the race, our expectations weren’t high. We’re going to go home and have a chat about what needs to be improved, both personally and with the team to keep getting better.”
Earl Bamber, Driver, No. 99 Team Hardpoint EBM Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“We had a tough week. We had damage in practice and we were recovering from that. We had a quick car; Rob was doing a fantastic job and was one of the quickest cars on track at the time. His incident set us back and we were trying to recover with a damaged car and I got caught up with another guy. That was sort of our day. It was awesome for the 88 to be fighting there for a podium at the end of the day. It’s the closest we’ve come. We’re still building and learning as a team and we’ve got a long way to go, but I think it’s positive.”
Trenton Estep, Driver, No. 99 Team Hardpoint EBM Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“All in all, it was a great weekend. These guys at Team Hardpoint EBM are unbelievable and they’ve given me this opportunity to drive this awesome Porsche. Granted, we didn’t have the best of luck on our side this weekend, but I had fun and my stints were clean. Thankfully, I didn’t get into too much trouble. I learned a lot throughout the whole experience and it was a good weekend.”
Rob Ferriol, Driver, No. 99 Team Hardpoint EBM Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“The name of the game in all of these long races is perseverance. I give immense credit to the 88 car. Kat, Christina and Bia drove a phenomenal race with no mistakes, kept their heads down and kept pushing. To see them bring home a top-five finish is really cool for me personally, I’m proud of all of them. I think there was a podium there. They can stand proud. I have to give all the rest of the credit to the crew on our 99 car. Earl and I didn’t make their lives very easy today. They had to put the car back together a couple of times, and finally one big time. All that said, to still be able to come home P10, finish the race, take the checker and see the guys proud of their work and that car coming home, that’ll have to be enough for us until Mid-Ohio.”
Successful Launch. Porsche Carrera Cup North America Makes High Marks in First Weekend.
Porsche Carrera Cup is widely recognized as one of the most competitive motorsport formats in the world. With the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars – both the newest type 992 and previous generation 991.2 – forming the classes, the one-make championship is a battle between equal race cars. The difference? The driver and team. This generates the kind of strong competition that was witnessed at Sebring International Raceway, March 17 – 19, when Porsche Carrera Cup North America made its competition debut with a pair of 45-minute races. The parity across each of the field’s three classes – Pro, Pro-Am and Pro-Am 991 – was proven as battle for positions raged from front to back with the Pro and Pro-Am 991 classes having two different winners in both rounds. Seb Priaulx (United Kingdom) winning Round 1 on Thursday, March 18 and Kay van Berlo (Netherlands) taking the top-step of the Pro podium on Friday, March 19. Only Alan Metni (Austin, Texas) swept the weekend in Pro-Am class driving the No. 99 Kelly-Moss Road & Race Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car.
While Priaulx leaves the first weekend with a ten-point lead in the overall standings ahead of van Berlo, the difference is a result of Thursday qualifying where the driver from Guernsey in the United Kingdom set the first and second-quickest lap times giving him pole position for both rounds. Each pole position is worth an additional five-points.
Metni put 50 points in the bank on the opening-weekend to establish himself as the clear target for his fellow Pro-Am class drivers – competitors 40-years-old and older – for the remainder of the season. The Texan is ahead of Thomas Collingwood (Canada) who finished in fourth-place on Thursday and second-place on Friday to capture 34 total points. The driver of the No. 69 BGB Motorsports Porsche is ahead of Tim Pappas (Boston, Massachusetts) who has 29 point in the No. 54 JDX Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup and Efrin Castro (Dominican Republic) in the No. 65 Team Hardpoint EBM machine two-points further back. Chattanooga, Tennessee’s Curt Swearingin, who has earned a total of 26 markers in the No. 17 ACI Motorsports car, rounds out the top-five.
Pro-Am 991 – for drivers campaigning the previous generation Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car, type 991.2 – is a tie at the top as both Kurt Hunt (Atlanta, Georgia) and Matt Halcome (Dalls, Georgia) traded the first and second-places in the two events. Hunt drove the No. 24 ACI Motorsports Porsche to the victory in Round 1 and second-place in Round Two. Halcome’s No. 55 Goldcrest Motorsports-prepared Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, type 991.2, finished in second-place on Thursday but fought back for the win on Friday. Grady Willingham (Birmingham, Alabama) sits in third-place with 31 points in the No. 21 Goldcrest car. Jeffrey Majkrzak (Orono, Minnesota) accumulated 29-points over the course of the weekend to leave Sebring in fourth-place in the initial point standings followed by his Goldcrest teammate Joe Still (Huntsville, Alabama) in the No. 8 with 20 points to make the top-five.
Kelly-Moss Road & Race sits atop the Entrants Championship standings having earned victory and pole position points for a total of 50 markers. 331RS Motorsport (37), Team Hardpoint EBM (32), JDX Racing (31) and BGB Motorsports (23) are third through fifth-place after the first two rounds of the 16 race schedule.
The 3.74-mile, 17-turn circuit in central Florida hosted 34 race versions of the iconic Porsche 911 GT3 road car. Split with 23 of the type 992 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car – making their first appearance in customer racing teams’ hands this weekend – and 11 of the previous generation 991.2 models, the competition was heated amidst the three classes: Pro, Pro-Am and Pro-Am 991 throughout. Pro and Pro-Am use the newest car – the first 23 delivered in the world – while the Pro-Am 991 category uses the previous generation car that set the standard for one-make racing worldwide since 2017.
Dr. Daniel Armbruster, president & CEO, Porsche Motorsport North America.
“The narrow point spread and close competition this entire weekend shows we are on the right path with the plan and implementation of Porsche Carrera Cup North America. However, motorsport is about more than numbers; it is about people. We want to thank everyone that put so much effort making the first weekend into what I believe we would all consider an early success. The initial feedback we have received from drivers, entrants, mechanics and our marketing partners gave us a clear indication that our approach is the correct one. We will go back and reflect on what we learned and what we can do better. Then we will return to work with a unified goal to fine-tune every aspect for rounds three and four.”
Double-Duty. Murry and Root Add Second Series to Carrera Cup North America at Sebring.
Two of the Porsche Junior Program North America drivers pulled double-duty at Sebring International Raceway over the March 17 – 20 race weekend. Dylan Murry (Cumming, Georgia) and Maxwell Root (San Diego, California) each raced the new Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car in the Pro class in the debut rounds of the Porsche one-make championship and in one of the other major IMSA events of the weekend.
Murry piloted the No. 38 BGB Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car to fifth and 11th-places respectively in Rounds 1 and 2 of the Porsche Carrera Cup North America. On Saturday, he joined the driver lineup in the No. 91 Riley Motorsports LMP3 prototype with Jeroen Bleekemolen (Netherlands) and Jim Cox (USA) for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. He finished a close second-place after extended runs in the lead of the 69th running of the classic international endurance race.
Despite limited testing, Root showed his usual speed on two fronts this weekend as well. The 2018 Hurley Haywood Scholarship winner and Porsche Young Driver Academy graduate was a late addition to the Moorespeed-Wright Motorsports combination in the Porsche Carrera Cup North America. The new alliance didn’t find the results it hoped for in the debut of the new series, new car and new team with the Californian finishing in 34th and 33rd in Rounds 1 and 2. However, the Michelin Pilot Challenge event was a different matter. If the Moorespeed-Wright program was late in coming the ride in the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport was even later. Root was brought in to team with Jan Heylen (Belgium) in the GT4-spec car the week of the event, and he did not disappoint. Root raced to the overall pole position for Friday’s two-hour race on the 3.74-mile Sebring circuit, led for much of the event and the duo took the checkered flag in second-place.
Porsche Podium. Wright Debuts Root with Heylen to Earn Sebring Michelin Pilot Challenge Second-Place.
After an impressive qualifying session at Sebring International Raceway, where he secured pole position by almost a full second in his IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge debut, Max Root (San Diego, California) led the field to green on the morning of Friday, March 19. He wasted no time in pulling away in the race for GT4-spec road-based race cars in the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport, leading his entire stint. The Porsche Junior Program North America driver – who is also racing the No. 7 Moorespeed-Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car in the new Porsche Carrera Cup North America – finished his run and passed the driving duties off to Jan Heylen (Belgium), joining in second, the Porsche ace quickly retook the lead of the race. He held position to the final rounds of pit stops, and rejoined in the top-three, as the cars in first and second-place attempted a one-stop fuel strategy in the two-hour race. With five-minutes remaining, Heylen moved forward into second-place. As the leader began to drop oil onto the track, Heylen was forced to slow to avoid going off the circuit in the closing moments. Despite being shown a black flag for mechanical issues – meaning the car had to pit – the leading entry stayed on track and took the checkered flag in first-place. No post-race penalty was assessed and the Wright Motorsports mid-engine Porsche finished in second-place.
Jan Heylen, Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport.
“I am disappointed we didn’t win the race, obviously. We led most of the race and it looked like we were going to come out on top. We saw toward the end that the Camaro was going to go long [on a fuel stint] without making an extra stop. It was a good effort on their part. Certainly not something that was in the cards for us. At the end we started chasing them and I think we still could have won the race but the Camaro started spitting oil. I lost the car at three big moments behind them… almost going off track as they were dumping oil. It wasn’t worth the risk to get too close to them and potentially damage our race and the result. So we just hung back there. Good points for the championship. Very happy to have done the race with Max. Happy to be on the podium with him.”
Max Root, Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport.
“It was a good race. I had a strong opening stint. The Wright boys set up the car pretty amazingly. I handed it off to Jan and he did a great stint there. I think we did everything we could. Thank you to everyone at Porsche and Wright Motorsports.”
- Image courtesy of Porsche Cars North America