Porsche GT Team aims to continue its success streak at Watkins Glen
Stuttgart. After clinching three wins in a row, the Porsche GT Team travels as the leaders to round five of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen. At the upcoming six-hour race in the US State of New York, the works team has now set its sights on the next victory. Two ca. 510 hp Porsche 911 RSR tackle the fiercely contested GTLM class. Like the races at Daytona, Sebring and Road Atlanta, this long-distance classic close to the Canadian border counts towards the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup. As for the first two races of the season as well as Le Mans, the two factory cars will be decked out in a livery reminiscent of the legendary North American customer team, Brumos Racing. In the GTD class, the customer teams Pfaff Motorsports, Black Swan Racing and Park Place Motorsports each field a Porsche 911 GT3 R.
The racetrack with the name Watkins Glen International, often called “The Glen”, has a long and illustrious history. The first race was held in 1948 in dense forest around Seneca Lake after a motorsport-mad law student won the support of the local Chamber of Commerce. The result was a 10.6-kilometre circuit that has been extensively modified and modernised in recent decades. From 1961 to 1980, Watkins Glen hosted Formula One. The current circuit length is 5.472 kilometres. For this year’s race, a new spectator area has been built.
The Porsche drivers
The winners of the Sebring race, Patrick Pilet (France) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain), share the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR. The pair currently ranks third in the drivers’ classification. Their works driver colleagues in the No. 912 sister car, Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium), are leading the championship after winning the races at Long Beach and Mid-Ohio.
The Porsche customer teams
Three Porsche 911 GT3 R contest the GTD class for vehicles complying with the FIA GT3 regulations. Helming the No. 8 Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by Pfaff Motorsports is the Porsche development driver Lars Kern (Germany) and the two Canadians Scott Hargrove and Zacharie Robichon. Porsche works driver Patrick Long (USA) and his compatriots Patrick Lindsey and Nicholas Boulle share the cockpit of the No. 73 vehicle run by Park Place Motorsports. The customer team Black Swan Racing campaigns a 500+hp Porsche 911 GT3 R with works driver Dirk Werner, Marco Seefried from Germany and the American Marc Miller.
The Porsche vehicles
For its third racing season in North America, the Porsche 911 RSR has undergone further optimisation primarily in the setup. Depending on the size of the restrictor, the engine, which is positioned in front of the rear axle, puts out around 375 kW (510 hp). The large rear diffuser combined with a top-mounted rear wing provides aerodynamic efficiency and significant downforce. The 911 GT3 R was newly developed for the 2019 season. Improvements in the areas of aerodynamics and kinematics were systematically implemented from the insights garnered from the many race outings of its predecessor. The six-cylinder engine in the rear of the GT3 customer racer produces over 368 kW (500 hp).
The race takes off on Sunday, 29 June, at 9:45am local time (3:45pm CEST) and can be viewed live outside the USA and Canada on www.imsa.com.
Comments before the race
Pascal Zurlinden (Director GT Factory Motorsport): “We have won all titles in the FIA WEC with our Porsche 911 RSR. Our clear goal is to be just as successful in North America. We’ve won three out of four races so far and we’re leading the overall classification. At Watkins Glen we’d like to extend our advantage in the championship. If we continue to work as consistently and focussed as we have to now, then we’ll have good chances.”
Steffen Höllwarth (Programme Manager IMSA SportsCar Championship): “After our podium result at Le Mans, we’re now facing the next big challenge. After the race in France, the two Porsche 911 RSR were transported straight back to the USA. Our team has precious little time to prepare the cars for the upcoming race at Watkins Glen. I have no doubt that our experienced squad will accomplish this task and I hope that we can continue our winning streak in the IMSA championship.”
Sebastian Golz (Project Manager Porsche 911 GT3 R): “The Porsche 911 GT3 R has enormous potential. We saw this recently at Mid-Ohio when Pfaff Motorsports’ car led the field for a long stretch. Unfortunately, the big successes have failed to materialise as yet. We’re working systematically towards this with our customer teams. After our test at Watkins Glen we’re optimally prepared for the six-hour race.”
Patrick Pilet (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “The Porsche 911 RSR has always been fast on the spectacular Watkins Glen circuit. Last year we led the race for a long period of time and ultimately finished on the podium. We still haven’t won there yet. That’s exactly what we want to do this time and thus continue Porsche’s series of successes in North America this year.”
Nick Tandy (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “The race is six hours long and the heat is often a determining factor. On top of this, the circuit features many sweeping, fast corners. That makes it very strenuous for us drivers – but at the same time really fun. In my view, the fact that this race is longer than most of the others on the IMSA calendar gives us an advantage. The pit crew plays an even more important role when it comes to the pit stops and strategy. We’re particularly good in both of these disciplines.”
Earl Bamber (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “The IMSA season now enters the decisive phase. We now have a lot of races coming one after the other in short succession. We are determined to hold on to our championship lead. Laurens and I have recently enjoyed a really good run. We want to continue this at Watkins Glen. The track there is incredibly fast and a great challenge for drivers. I’m certain that we’ll be strong there with our Porsche 911 RSR.”
Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “After our campaign at the 24-hour races at Le Mans and the Nürburgring we’re returning to our day-to-day job in the IMSA series. I’m really looking forward to it. We’re leading the championship and we don’t want to lose that position. Watkins Glen has a lot of fast corners – which is great fun for all of us drivers.”
Lars Kern (Porsche 911 GT3 R #9): “This’ll be my third race for Pfaff Motorsports. The team has done a tremendous job over the last months, but we’re still not getting the results. That should change at Watkins Glen. We went testing on the fast circuit and have prepared ourselves perfectly. I really like this traditional course. I can hardly wait to contest my first race there.”
Patrick Long (Porsche 911 GT3 R #73): “I’m really looking forward to sharing a car with the newly-crowned Le Mans class winner Patrick Lindsey and Nicholas Boulle. The six-hour race at Watkins Glen has changed a lot over the years. It used to be a long-distance race, now it’s an all-out sprint. It’s really exhausting and pushes drivers and teams to their limits.”
Dirk Werner (Porsche 911 GT3 R #540): “The intense stage of the season continues without pause. The Watkins Glen race will be my sixth in just eight weeks. I’m thrilled that Tim Pappas has made it possible for his team and us drivers to take part in a great race such as Watkins Glen. I think we have good chances of claiming a podium spot there.”
This is the IMSA SportsCar Championship
The IMSA SportsCar Championship is a sports car race series that has been contested in the USA and Canada since 2014. The series originated from the merger of the American Le Mans Series and the Grand-Am Series. Sports prototypes and sports cars start in four different classes: GTLM (GT Le Mans), GTD (GT Daytona), Dpi (Daytona Prototype international) and LMP2 (Le Mans Prototype 2). The Porsche 911 RSR runs in the GTLM class, and the Porsche 911 GT3 R contests the GTD class.