• Page 1. Triple Threat. Three Porsche Customers Bring 911 GT3 Racers to IMSA Mid-Ohio. • Page 5. No Monaco Payoff. TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team Monaco Premiere Comes Up Short.
Triple Threat. Three Porsche Customers Bring 911 GT3 Racers to IMSA Mid-Ohio.
As the winningest manufacturer on the venerable Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Porsche has a formidable history to live up to at the midwestern track. The German sports car manufacturer will be represented by a true triple-threat of privateer entries when the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship travels to the Lexington, Ohio-area race circuit on Sunday, May 16. Current GTD championship point standing leader Wright Motorsports brings the No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3 R race car to its local track while Pfaff Motorsports has entered the No. 9 Porsche – each team led by a former winner of the race. Team Hardpoint EBM will focus on a single Porsche 911 GT3 R in Ohio, the No. 88, in the 14-car class of the 26-car field.
Since 2000, the German marque has earned 24 IMSA class wins on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course. Porsche has captured 18 overall wins since the track’s first race in 1972. In fact, 15 of the first 20 professional sports car races held at Mid-Ohio from its founding through 1988 were won by a Porsche. In 1989, with Italian Teo Fabi behind the wheel of a Porsche-powered March open wheel race car, it was the site of the only Indy car win for the company based in Stuttgart, Germany.
Leading the way for the Porsche teams in the first sprint race of the year is the No. 16 of GTD class points leader, Wright Motorsports. The local favorite, from nearby Batavia, Ohio, welcomes back Ryan Hardwick (Atlanta, Georgia) to the cockpit joining with North America’s only Porsche factory driver Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California). The longtime Porsche entrant – who has involvement across the Porsche Motorsport Pyramid in North America including the Porsche Carrera Cup North America Presented by the Cayman Islands, Michelin Pilot Challenge, SRO GT America and SRO GT World Challenge America – is leading the GTD point standings following a second-place finish to Pfaff Motorsports at the most recent round, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March.
For Hardwick, it is the first time back in the GT3-spec Porsche in full competition since an accident in preparation for the season-opening IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge event at the Daytona International Speedway in January. That was Hardwick’s second accident in as many days, the first shortly after winning his first career GTD pole position in the No. 16. The resulting concussion protocol forced him to step out of the car for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. He and Long recently tested at Mid-Ohio in preparation of this week’s event. Long won the GTD class, then known as GT2, in 2009 and has two class pole positions at the track. Hardwick/Long finished in third-place together at Mid-Ohio last year.
Pfaff Motorsports travels from Canada with Porsche factory driver Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and 2019 Sprint Championship winner Zacharie Robichon (Canada). The team scored its first major endurance victory in March at Sebring. However, this first “sprint” race of the year will put a premium on the pairing of Vanthoor and Robichon in the “Plaid Porsche”.
After entering two cars at Sebring, Team Hardpoint EBM returns to a single entry for Mid-Ohio. The duo of Katherine Legge (United Kingdom) and team principal Rob Ferriol (Fayetteville, North Carolina) will race the No. 88 Porsche 911 GT3 R. The two shared the cockpit along with Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Christina Nielsen (Denmark) to open the year at Daytona.
First on-track laps for the 510 hp-rear-engine Porsche 911 GT3 R race car will come on Friday, May 14 with qualifying on Saturday. The two-hour, 40-minute race – the first non-endurance event of the season – will take the green flag on Sunday at 2:40 p.m. EDT with live television on NBCSN starting at 2:30 p.m.
Patrick Long, Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“I love the Mid-Ohio culture and old school traditional road course layout. It's a home race for the WM crew and having Ryan back in the car brings double anticipation and excitement to this coming week.”
Ryan Hardwick, Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“It was an unplanned break that's for sure. But it felt really good to get back into the car. You know, it's a tough injury, a head injury. I felt like I was ready to go for Sebring. I was really wanting to get back into the car at Sebring again. You break your leg or your arm, or you have an injury like that, it's really simple. You know when you're physically healed or not. But with a head injury, man, it's tough to pinpoint. And I'm very thankful. I had a really great group of neurologists here in Atlanta at the Shepherd Center that I worked with as soon as I got back home from Daytona after my injury. They knew I wasn't quite ready. I was going through a gauntlet of physical therapy, cognitive therapy work, vision therapy, reaction time stuff. About four days a week, I was there working with these guys and they knew I wasn't where I needed to be. And hindsight, 20-20, looking back now I just finished my last round of tests and through their whole system just last week, right before I went to go get in the car at Mid-Ohio, and my scores on all these assessments last week compared to that week, leading up to Sebring are drastically different. I mean, I can look back and see now they were correct. Turns out these neurologists, know what they're talking about. And so it felt good to finally get back into the car. And I was really proud of the test and the results that I obtained over a couple of days there. By the second day that I got to drive, I was really outperforming what I was doing there last year. I'm sure our competition will be better, but I personally felt good not only with the injury, but just being out of the car for so long.”
Katherine Legge, Driver, No. 88 Team Hardpoint EBM Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“I’m very much looking forward to going back to Mid-Ohio, it is a track that brings a smile to your face when you are driving it. I have fond memories of my NASCAR debut and an IMSA podium there, but I actually haven’t raced there very much at all. It is tricky to be fast there, so Rob and I will be looking to build on Sebring results and find a setup we both like. We raced the same car in Daytona, so teaming up isn’t entirely new, and I’m looking forward to working with Rob. Hopefully we can get a good result for the team, and for Richard Mille, and build on that moving forward.”
No Monaco Payoff. TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team Monaco Premiere Comes Up Short.
The racing debut of the Porsche 99X Electric race car on the Grand Prix circuit in Monaco did not yield the anticipated strong performance. After scoring podium results in Rome and Valencia, expectations were high within the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team entering round seven of the 2021ABB FIA Formula E World Championship. However, in the picturesque setting of the Principality on the Côte d’Azur, the positive trend of recent weeks did not continue at the Monaco E-Prix on Saturday, May 8. André Lotterer (Germany) crossed the finish line in ninth-place driving the No. 36 Porsche 99X Electric, only to be handed a time penalty due to a collision shortly before the checkered flag which relegated him back to 17th-place. His teammate Pascal Wehrlein (Germany) piloting the identical No. 99 TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team Porsche 99X Electric racer, had to pull into the pits shortly before the end of the race after becoming entangled in a collision caused by another competitor.
The 24-car race for electric race cars through the streets of Monte Carlo was the highlight of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship. Fierce battles for positions, spectacular overtaking maneuvers and gripping action from start to finish – the 2.06-mile (3.32-kilometer) circuit with its unparalleled fascination is the perfect venue for the innovative electric racing series.
Full of confidence, Wehrlein took up the race from eighth-place after narrowly missing the Super Pole by just five-hundredths of a second at the wheel of his Porsche 99X Electric. However, when the world’s fastest city traffic came to a halt in the first lap at the entry to the famous hairpin bend in front of the Hotel Fairmont, he was shuffled down the order to 15th. Over the remaining 45-minutes, he was unable to make up the lost ground. Shortly before the flag, a pursuer hit the rear of his car and the resulting tire puncture forced him to end his race in the pits.
Lotterer started from 19th-posiiton and thus had almost the whole field in front of him. With very little chance to overtake on the narrow circuit, he made the best out of the situation. When he selected attack mode for the second time in his Porsche 99X Electric, he managed to move up into twelfth-place. Towards the end of the race, he succeeded in overtaking several competitors and ultimately even took home championship points for ninth-place. However, he was subsequently handed a five-second time penalty for making contact with a competitor in the final lap.
The next race for the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team is the Puebla E-Prix in Mexico on June 19/20 with races 8 and 9 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.
Amiel Lindesay, Head of Operations Formula E.
“Pascal did a good job in qualifying and only just missed out on Super Pole. The start wasn’t ideal. When he got stuck in the middle of traffic at the hairpin, a top placing was out of reach in this initial phase. The qualifying didn’t go well for André but he did a mega job coming from 19th to ninth in the race – not many manage that in Monaco. Unfortunately, the time penalty robbed him of the rewards he deserved. We have six weeks until the next races in Mexico. We’ll use this time to prepare for the challenges of the second half of the season.”
André Lotterer, Driver, No. 36 TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team Porsche 99X Electric.
“Things didn’t really come together for me in qualifying, but it went much better in the race. At the start, I stayed out of any trouble and tried to conserve energy and get into a good rhythm. I succeeded. We really wanted to finish in the points, which is a pretty ambitious goal when you start from 19th on the grid, especially in Monaco. And we would’ve made it, too, had it not been for the time penalty at the end. Hopefully, things will go better for us in Mexico.”
Pascal Wehrlein, Driver, No. 36 TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team Porsche 99X Electric.
“It was a disappointing weekend all in all, at least in view of the result, but once again we underlined our potential. Our speed was pretty good, especially in qualifying. My start wasn’t great. I was shunted from behind in the hairpin. As a result, my car sustained quite a few damages. I’m now looking forward to the two new opportunities that are coming up at the doubleheader in Puebla.”
Image courtesy of Porsche Cars North America.