Archive for “January, 2017”

911 RSR Takes Second Place in Race Debut

At the 24 Hours of Daytona, Porsche factory drivers Patrick Pilet, Fred Makowiecki and Dirk Werner secured second place with the 911 RSR for the Porsche GT Team factory squad. After 634 laps on the demanding Daytona International Speedway, they were just 2.988 seconds shy of claiming victory.

 

The 55th running of the Daytona 24-hour race proved tremendously challenging for drivers and teams, especially during Saturday night with steady rain and unusually cool temperatures. The race was repeatedly interrupted by safety car phases after many pilots lost control of their vehicles on the rain-soaked course and ended up trackside.

 

The longest of the 21 safety car phases lasted over two hours. In the early hours of Sunday morning, the race director made the decision for safety reasons due to the flooding on the racetrack. More than two hours – even the safety car ran out of fuel.

 

In the first race hours on the storied racetrack featuring two fast banked corners and a twisty infield, the 510 hp 911 RSR racers, designed from scratch by Porsche Motorsport in Weissach, lost time and positions due to six unscheduled tire changes. After the problem with the right front tires was solved by further optimizing the setup, both 911 RSR began to re-establish their rhythm. When heavier rain made conditions even more difficult, they fought their way to the top of the GTLM class and led the field over many laps on the 5.729-kilometre-long speedway.

 

Sports car fans did not let the bad weather spoil their fun and witnessed breathtaking fights for positions over the entire race distance, with constantly changing cars in the lead.

 

The race showed that the level of competition in the GTLM class is enormous. None of the vehicles of the five automobile manufacturers contesting this category could build a convincing lead over the course of the race. When the sun came up on Sunday, the field was as close as it had been the night before. Both 911 RSR had turned consistently fast laps to secure a good starting position, only to have an unscheduled pit stop for repairs on the right front suspension throw the No. 912 vehicle out of contention for a podium spot. Kévin Estre (France), Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and Richard Lietz (Austria) ultimately took the flag in sixth place.

 

However, their team colleague Patrick Pilet crowned his impressive final stint after an ongoing four-way battle with Ford, Ferrari and Chevrolet with a well-deserved second place. Thanks to this result, he secured a good position for Porsche in the North American Endurance Cup, for which the long distance classics of Sebring, Watkins Glen and Petit Le Mans in addition to Daytona count.

 

Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport: “That was an incredible race and a great debut for our new 911 RSR. We were only two seconds off victory after 24 hours, but that doesn’t matter in this case. It was an extremely tough race, a fantastic fight for victory. Despite the bad weather conditions, the fans were treated to everything that makes racing so exciting. Both 911 RSR made it to the finish well and without any real problems.”

 

Marco Ujhasi, Overall Project Manager GT Works Motorsport: “I’m incredibly proud of my boys. The entire team spent 18 months giving their utmost so that we could tackle this race with a competitive car. Whether in Weissach, with our tire partner Michelin, or with our squad, every single person did everything they could. Today we reaped the rewards for this.

 

“It was an extremely gripping race to the finish. In the beginning we had some slight problems with the tires because we first had to find out where our limit was with the setup for the decisive final phase, but we never gave up and we fought back. The fighting spirit shown in the team made this possible. I’m incredibly proud of our works driver squad. They are our greatest asset. These guys don’t make any mistakes and always deliver top performances.”

 

Patrick Pilet (911 RSR #911): “That was a typical Daytona race. I knew that not a lot would happen in the first 20 hours and the decision always goes down to the wire. That’s why I didn’t take too many risks, and didn’t fight for every position come what may. I possibly made some team member nervous by taking this approach, but I knew exactly how things work here. Then during the last two hours I pulled out all stops and squeezed every last ounce out of the 911 RSR. Now I’m pleased. It was the maiden outing for our new car and the one little drawback was that we didn’t win. Still, it was an important step. Now I’m looking forward to Sebring.”

 

Dirk Werner (911 RSR #911): “That was a very emotional race for me; my first as a Porsche works driver. It certainly wasn’t for the fainthearted, particularly in the final phase. Patrick really gave everything he had and a couple of times I thought he might even win, but only a fraction was missing at the flag. Still, it was virtually a perfect race. The team worked really well together and the potential of the new 911 RSR makes us very optimistic. I take my hat off to the people who developed this car.”

 

Frédéric Makowiecki (911 RSR #911): “Congratulations to the entire team. What a great start to the season. The time that was invested in developing the new 911 RSR has paid off. The concept is good and it works. Of course not everything ran smoothly today, but we never gave up and we always fought back. One thing is certain – we’re back in the game.”

 

Kévin Estre (911 RSR #912): “That was a really cool race. Seven cars within ten seconds after 24 hours – you don’t get that very often. We were there when it counted, but not quite enough to have a say in the fight for victory. The whole team did their utmost. Daytona was just the beginning.”

 

Laurens Vanthoor (911 RSR # 912): “Daytona was my first race for Porsche, my first with the 911 RSR and the first in the USA. Everything actually went well, even though there’s room for improvement as far as the result goes. But I didn’t make any mistakes and that’s important. I wasn’t totally happy with my performance, I can do better, but I still have a bit of time. The car has potential and that makes me optimistic for the rest of the season.”

 

Richard Lietz (911 RSR # 912): “That was a great debut for the new 911 RSR. The car ran almost perfectly. The entire squad again worked together like clockwork. This gives Porsche a great foundation for the rest of the season. Now I’m curious to see how we perform at Sebring.”

CORE Leads Class Before Daytona Exit

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 29, 2017) – In its GT Daytona class debut, CORE autosport’s Porsche 911 GT3 R ran up front for the first half of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, before retiring because of crash damage. The team made it to the halfway point of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opener, before contact forced it to take the car back to the garage.

 

Drivers Jon Bennett, Colin Braun, Nic Jönsson and Patrick Long faced adverse conditions in each of their stints. Bennett started the car from 25th followed by Jönsson. When it was Jönsson’s turn to pass the car to Long, a light rain began to fall. The rain continued to vary in intensity, which made tire choice a tricky decision.

 

As the sun went down, temperatures dropped and the rain held steady. Drivers likened the Daytona International Raceway circuit to an ice skating rink, even on wet tires. Despite this, the No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 R led a total of 22 laps in the highly competitive and 27-car strong GTD field.

 

Almost precisely at the halfway mark, Jönsson was hit from behind entering the Bus Stop. This sent him spinning into the wall. The Porsche sustained heavy damage to both the front and rear of the car. Upon closer inspection in the garage, it was determined the car would be unable to continue. Fortunately, Jönsson was able to walk away from the incident unharmed.

 

The early exit was disappointing for CORE, but nonetheless, the team was buoyed by their performance as rookies in the GTD class. CORE now looks forward to the 12 Hours of Sebring, March 16 – 18, in Sebring, Florida.

 

 

Jon Bennett
Driver: No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 R

“It was wonderful to start our first race with the Porsche 911 GT3 R. Our qualifying wasn’t the greatest, but we had a good place to start the race in terms of being able to see what was going on. We took a conservative approach at the start. Then once things started to settle down after a lap or two, we started chipping away. I ultimately got to a really good pace for myself after the start and kept the car basically on the lead lap. Nic, Pat and Colin did a great job moving us up in the order, in addition to some great strategy by the team. In short order, we were near the top of the list. In fact, when the sun fell, Colin had our car in the lead in our first race and we held that lead for quite a long time.

 

“It just wasn’t meant to be. The rain was quite challenging. The car was new to all of us and it was a bit tricky drive. The conditions were some of the most difficult I’ve seen, especially when Nic took the car after my stint. We were struggling to find balance, but Nic did a great job. In the middle of the night, Nic unfortunately was hit from behind and there was nothing that he could do. He was just a victim of circumstances. We have a bit of a broken racecar, but it’ll get mended up quickly. My hat’s off to the crew for their hard work. We’ll be back strong for Sebring.”

 

Colin Braun
Driver: No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 R

“It was really treacherous for a big portion of our race out there. Nic did a great job in the car, but unfortunately, he got collected by someone. Nic and Jon both did a great job, and we led some laps and stuck to our plan there.

 

“There was so much mist in the air and everything was so cold. At night, it’s really tough to get the temperature in the tire. I’ve done this 13 years now, and it seems there’s always more heartbreak than there is time on the podium. Now we’ll go on to Sebring and I know that we have a fast car and are capable of running with these guys.”

 

 

Nic Jonsson
Driver: Porsche 911 GT3 R

“We had a very well-balanced car. The CORE guys gave us a really great car along with Porsche. I hadn’t driven the car a lot, so we decided to get going with it and get a good handle on it. We had a good pace and advanced to the lead at one point. The rain made the conditions very difficult, but Colin led for a while and Jon did a great job out there. When I got back in, I just carried on in the same style. We were one of the top three cars out there speed-wise.

 

“In my second stint, I got held up by another GTD car in Turn Six, so I had to check up, but then another car got a good run on me and then a Prototype approached fast from the back. The spotter alerted me, but the next thing I knew, I just got hit really, really hard from behind, right into the wall, several times. It was unfortunate; we had such a great car. A big thanks to Porsche Motorsport North America and CORE for all of their hard work.”

 

 

Patrick Long
Driver: No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 R

“I ran in mixed conditions – cold weather, rain and dark. That is the sort of trifecta of difficulty for a driver. The team did a great job giving me a versatile setup and keeping me calm. I enjoyed being with these guys. It’s a shame that we’re out early, but they’ll fight back. I look forward to following them the whole season.

 

“Every time I run with CORE autosport, it’s everything you could ever ask for. You have everything at your disposal so that you can put forth the best effort.”

CORE Ready to Take Green Flag at Daytona

Crystal clear skies at Daytona International Raceway presented the perfect arena for CORE autosport to make its GT Daytona debut in its new No. 54 Composite Resources/Flex-Box Porsche 911 GT3 R.

The opening day of the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the first round of the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship also featured three practice sessions and a full day of activity as the team finessed its setup for the race.

For the 15-minute GTD qualifying session, Jon Bennett was tapped for driving duties and executed a strong run against the massive 27-car field. Bennett ended his first-ever GTD qualifying session 25th on the grid.

Bennett will take the green flag in Saturday’s 24-hour race and share driving duties with Colin Braun, Nic Jonsson and Patrick Long.

The team has one final practice session tomorrow at 10am ET.

The green flag drops at 2:30 pm ET Saturday. Live coverage starts at 2 pm ET on FOX with continuing coverage on FS1 and FS2.

 

Jon Bennett
No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 R
“I’m happy to return to Daytona this year with a Porsche GT3 R running in GTD. We certainly do not lack competition this year, so I’m looking forward to a very competitive Rolex 24 and IMSA season. Personally, I’m still a bit in the learning curve mode. Track conditions were a bit challenging today and our grip was challenging. The good news is, this is a super long race, and probably the race that emphasizes qualifying performance the least. We’re in a strong position for a good finish with Colin, Patrick and Nic on board as well as our excellent crew.

 

“I have been a fan of Porsche and 911s since I was in grade school, so to be driving a competition-bred 911 at Daytona is an honor. Porsche has such a long history of success here and its an honor to sort of pick up the tradition in 2017 and hopefully add a page to their winning record.
“It’s been wonderful, in the lead up to this race, getting to know Patrick Long and Nic Jönsson better. We have great chemistry already and we’re going to be a force to reckon with. It’s a long race and the first step is picking your battles carefully.”

CORE Launches GTD Program at Daytona

ROCK HILL, S.C. (Jan. 24, 2017) – CORE autosport’s first foray into the IMSA WeatherTech Championship GT Daytona category will take place this week in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The legendary twice around-the-clock race is the 2017 IMSA season opener.

 

In September of 2016, CORE announced it would move to the GTD category with a Porsche 911 GT3 R. Since then, the team has been hard at work prepping for 2017 and taken part in three IMSA-sanctioned tests at Daytona International Speedway with its new car.

 

Joining full-season drivers Jon Bennett and Colin Braun for the 24-hour race are sportscar ace Nic Jönsson and Porsche factory driver Patrick Long. The lineup is already quite comfortable together. Jonsson and Braun were teammates in the 2006-2007 GRAND-AM seasons and finished on the podium together at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2007. Jönsson and Long drove a Porsche together at the 2006 Petit Le Mans and in 2013 Braun and Long drove a Porsche GT3 RSR together for CORE in two rounds of the American Le Mans Series.

 

The familiarity will serve CORE well as it faces stiff competition in the popular GTD category. The class has 26 entries from nine different manufacturers, some of them with factory backing.

 

Noteworthy:

  • CORE won the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona in the PC class.
  • Colin Braun made his professional racing debut at Daytona in a Porsche GT3 Cup when he drove for Team 16 in 2005.
  • Between them, the No. 54 driver lineup has 42 starts at the Rolex 24 and three victories.
  • Jon Bennett is a nominee for this year’s RRDC Bob Snodgrass Award, which recognizes exemplary team owners.
  • In addition to its 2014 victory, CORE finished runner-up in PC in 2015. The team retired with engine failure in the 2016 race.
  • Flex-Box once again teams with CORE for the 2017 IMSA season. The partnership is in its fourth year.

 

Jon Bennett
Driver: No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 R

“The Rolex 24 is a special race and can set the tone for the new season. This year, it’s a special honor to be piloting a Porsche GT3 R. Porsche has a long history of success at Daytona and we look forward to making our mark.

 

“Our new Porsche is quite similar to our Prototype Challenge car in many ways. The GT3 R makes incredible power and has an impressive amount of downforce. The driver change process is new and something we’ve had to reengineer.

 

“We didn’t realize how polished our PC operation was. Our team has come to expect a high level of execution and it has been a huge challenge to develop the same level of detail in 90 days. I am amazed at the dedication and long hours our team has invested to optimize our new Porsche program.”

 

 

Colin Braun
Driver: No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 R

“We all got along really well at the Roar. I’ve worked with Jon for a long time. Many years ago, back when I first got into DP racing in GRAND-AM, I worked with Nic for quite a long time. Pat and I have worked together on and off during different times in our careers. I knew everyone’s personality and wasn’t surprised that we all got along well.

 

“I did the Rolex 24 at Daytona when I was 16. Here we are now and I think this is my 13th consecutive 24-hour race. Daytona was my first big professional car race. It’s fun to flash back to the first few times I came to the track and was thinking about what an amazing opportunity it was when I was 16. Every time I come to Daytona, it reminds me not to take things for granted and to enjoy the moment, because it’s a cool job.

 

“GTD is such a competitive class and the cars have become so reliable, that it will absolutely be a sprint race in the last couple hours. I’m sure there’s going to be a handful of cars in the thick of the battle and if we do things right, we’ll be in the mix. It’s tough to say who will have an upper hand. We’ve got quite a few new makes in the series and until we get into the last couple hours, we won’t see the true performance of the new cars.”

 

 

Nic Jönsson
Driver: No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 R

“Everything went really well at the Roar. For me, it was the first time in a Porsche since 2007, so it’s been awhile since I’ve been in a rear-engine car. Pat and I used to be teammates in 2006 with a Porsche. Colin I’ve known since he was eight and I’ve worked with his dad in different programs. Jon was very welcoming as was the rest of the team. They’re very professional.

 

“Daytona is a unique 24-hour race, because it’s lit up like a stadium, so it’s never truly dark. Turns Three and Five are probably the darkest places on the track. I don’t really have a favorite time to be driving; anytime is a good time at Daytona when you’re in a race car!

 

“As far as the GTD class is concerned, I don’t think the talent has ever been this stacked before. There are teams with factory backing, there are teams with very talented driver lineups. The competition is going to be stiffer than ever. It’ll come down to who can keep it on track without making any mistakes or an unscheduled pit stop. CORE is absolutely up to the challenge. I feel very fortunate to be with an organization full of people who want to be here and gel very well together. I think that is a key recipe to success.”

 

 

Patrick Long
Driver: No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 R

“The talent pool in GTD is stacked. New manufacturers have brought factory driver lineups. There are a ton of entries and lots of big names, so it’s forcing everybody to raise their game.

 

“The 911 GT3 R may not have the quickest top speed, but we think our ability to keep the tires underneath us, to be reliable, and our braking efficiency are advantages. Daytona is known for really demanding braking. The 911 has always been strong at Daytona and I think that is a big reason why.

 

“Colin, Jon and Nic are guys I have known for a long time. I’ve race with them and against. There was no transition time needed. We got right to business. The leadership and structure that Jeff Braun (engineer) asks of his drivers: you get to work right away.

 

“CORE needs no introduction. They are champions and race winners. The team’s infrastructure and crew on the 54 car is still there and it’s been great to be back with the team. I’m looking forward to watching them factor in all season.”