Archive for “March, 2017”

Brilliant Strategy But a Lot of Bad Luck for Porsche GT Team

SEBRING, Fla. (March 19, 2017) – At the 12 Hours of Sebring, the new Porsche 911 RSR was on course for a podium result until shortly before the finish. Then, a tire puncture and drive-through penalty put an end to Patrick Pilet’s spectacular late-race charge.

 

The Frenchman had fought his way through the field in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR and was poised to snatch the lead. After 334 laps on Sebring International Raceway, the legendary airfield circuit in the heart of Florida, the Porsche works driver and his teammates Dirk Werner (Germany) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France) ultimately had to settle for seventh place in the GTLM class. In the second 911 RSR fielded by the Porsche GT Team, Kévin Estre (France), Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and Richard Lietz (Austria) took the flag in eighth place.

 

The 65th edition of the 12 Hours of Sebring, which started in summer temperatures of over 77F, treated fans to gripping racing from start to finish, particularly in the strongly represented GTLM class, which was packed with drama. Before the final pit stop the field was still running close together. Right up until this time, Porsche’s strategy to setup the 911 so that it would perform at its best in the cooler hours of the evening unfolded brilliantly. But during a tire change, an impact wrench suddenly gave up the ghost, resulting in a longer pit stop than planned for the No. 911 car. As a consequence, Patrick Pilet fell down the field from second to fifth place.

 

The Frenchman, who started the season with a second-place finish with his teammates at the 24 Hours of Daytona, refused to give up. Putting in breathtaking overtaking maneuvers and turning the fastest race lap, he battled his way up the order in a very short time to retake second place and was within striking distance of the leader. His spirited final charge, however, came to an abrupt end 33 minutes before the finish. Due to a tire puncture, he had to come in for an unscheduled pit stop, and after the front left tire was changed he drove over the hose of the wheel gun. The drive-through penalty that he received for this destroyed all hopes of clinching his second podium result of the season.

 

Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport: “We witnessed a very dramatic race and up until 33 minutes before the end, everything was looking good. We had a tough fight for first place with the Corvette but then suffered a slow puncture on the front left tire. We had to pit and change the tire and after that we could forget about victory. With our number 912 car, the unplanned pit stop due to a leaking damper cost us three laps and all chances of winning. This car was also running very well.”

Patrick Pilet (911 RSR #911): “Our plan was to have the best car at the end of the race. This meant that it wasn’t so easy driving during the heat of the day, but once it cooled down we were very clearly the fastest on the track. The team did an excellent job. The strategy had been perfect. After the last pit stop we had a good chance to win. The tire puncture was annoying. It wasn’t pit crew error, it was just bad luck.”

Dirk Werner (911 RSR #911): “The pace of the car was very good and under normal circumstances it would have been enough to win here. Patrick was running in a very good position when he got the puncture. It’s hard to lose the fight for victory like this. Still, we had a great weekend and we put in a good race. The performance of the entire team was outstanding and we were so close to winning our first race.”

Frédéric Makowiecki (911 RSR #911): “It’s really disappointing. The team had done such a great job and we had a very good strategy. We knew that we would get stronger in the second half of the race when the temperatures cooled down, and that worked perfectly, too. Patrick’s flat tire cost us the victory. That was just simply unfortunate.”

Kévin Estre (911 RSR #912): “It was a tough race. Our car had the pace to run with the leaders. The track worked better for us in the second half of the race when it got cooler. Unfortunately, we then had the problem that cost us three laps. We were able to make up one of those laps, but we couldn’t do any more than that.”

Laurens Vanthoor (911 RSR # 912): “Our pace was very good. Unfortunately, we lost three laps because of a leaky damper. Because there were comparatively few caution phases, we weren’t able to make up much ground in the final hours.”

Richard Lietz (911 RSR # 912): “Sebring is merciless, but we knew this beforehand. We had a good car and I enjoyed driving here with my teammates. We did our very best, but unfortunately we had the problem with the rear left damper. Things like this can happen, particularly on a bumpy circuit like this one. We were well prepared, we did a great deal of testing here in Sebring, but sadly it ultimately wasn’t enough for a better result.”

 

Sebring Race Ends Early for CORE

CORE autosport put up a strong fight against one of the most grueling tracks in America at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida, the second round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

With a driver line up of experienced Sebring winners Jon Bennett, Colin Braun and Nic Jonsson, the team set out to take on the iconic Sebring International Raceway for the first time in the GT Daytona class with the No. 54 Composite Resources/Flex-Box Porsche 911 GT3 R. The GTD category has the largest car count within the WeatherTech series, boasting 21 entries at Sebring.

As the hours passed by, the team cycled through its driver lineup and stuck with its race plan. However, the ruthless track wasn’t going to let the team off that easy. With just over four hours to go, an engine temperature issue sent the team behind the wall for repairs.

The crew made quick work of the repairs and had the car back on track within 20 minutes, only losing one spot and rejoining the race in 16th with three hours to go.

The racing Gods had more bad luck in store for the team; with little more than an hour left in the race, Braun lost oil pressure and had to pull off the track. This ended the team’s quest for its fourth Sebring class victory.

CORE’s next opportunity to climb the GTD podium will be in three weeks’ time at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

 

Jon Bennett
Driver: No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 R
“It was an interesting and long day in the office here at Sebring. It started off with a lot of optimism. As the week went along, all of us—as a team—got faster. I think we were all looking forward to our first podium and our first finish with our new Porsche. We ran into a few problems today, and with a race that didn’t really have many cautions, it was hard for us to stay in the race. Nic and Colin were very fast. Colin posted the fastest lap in GTD several times this week. I think that shows promise.

 

“While the car is new to me, I continue to get faster as well. We’ll gather our notes and head to Long Beach. Both our team and Porsche have been very successful there so we’re looking forward to a good run.”

 

Colin Braun
Driver: No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 R
“Today wasn’t the result we all wanted or deserved. We had an unfortunate engine issue at the end of the race. The guys worked hard all week, but there were a lot of things outside of our control that we fought all weekend. Everyone at CORE kept digging and working hard throughout the event. Nic and Jon did a great job in the car today as well, but some weekends just aren’t your weekend. We had great pace and felt like we were in the mix. I felt like we had some decent race pace, but just never had track position and never had the yellows fall the way we needed them to. We got a lot of the race under our belt, so we have a lot of great notes and we can keep building as a team.”

 

Nic Jönsson
Driver: No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 R
“A big thanks to Jon and CORE autosport for inviting me back this weekend. It’s a first class operation around here. Unfortunately, this weekend hasn’t been what we were hoping for. We had the pace, but just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. We fought really hard to get caught up, but the yellows just fell in the wrong place for us and we weren’t able to get caught up. Six hours in or so, we started to lose power while I was in the car. After I handed the car over to Colin, it just got worse and we weren’t able to finish the race.

 

“To work with a group like this is always inspiring. There’s certainly potential to win here. They have shown before with their PC operation that they are a team to beat, and once they fully settle in to their new ride, they’ll be back at the top again.”

CORE Qualifies 19 at Sebring

CORE is Battle-Ready for Sebring

Unseasonably cold temperatures greeted teams as they descended upon Sebring International Raceway for the 65th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida and the second round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. After a full day of practice, things heated up on Friday, just in time for qualifying.

CORE autosport used the weekend’s four practice sessions to further shake down its new No. 54 Composite Resources/Flex-Box Porsche 911 GT3 R, and by qualifying, the team appeared to be pretty well settled into its GTD ride.

Jon Bennett was tapped with driving duties for the qualifying session and landed in 19th on the GTD grid. Bennett’s run at 2:03.672 (108.8mph) was a second faster than any of his other laps this weekend.

With three previous Sebring wins under CORE’s belt, Bennett and co-drivers Colin Braun and Nic Jönsson take on the legendary race starting at 10:40am ET on Saturday.

Coverage of the race is live on FS1 starting at 12:30pm ET and continues through the end of the race. Flag-to-flag coverage starts at 10:30 a.m. ET on FOX Sports GO with FS1 authentication.

 

Jon Bennett
Driver: No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 R

“Qualifying came at an important part of the weekend. We have done a lot of experimenting– both forward and backwards – with the car this weekend. I’m really proud of the team. When we got to qualifying, I had a really nice racecar underneath me and, after chatting with Colin a little bit, I was able to find more speed in the car. Being early in my first season in this car, it’s a bit of learning process. I’m quite happy with our progress. Of course, we always like to go faster, but I think I had a respectably competitive lap and it will fit well into our strategy going into the race tomorrow.”

 

CORE Takes Positive Momentum to Sebring

ROCK HILL, S.C. (March 14, 2017) – Though Daytona wasn’t the race the team had hoped for, CORE autosport took away many positives from its first GT Daytona event and is looking forward to getting on track again at Sebring International Raceway.

 

CORE is a three-time winner at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and most recently won the Prototype Challenge class last year. The team knows what it takes to win at the historic circuit, but is still on a learning curve with its new Porsche 911 GT3 R. Luckily, CORE took part in a two-day test at Sebring in February and posted the fastest GTD lap time each day.

 

Its performance at the test combined with the race-leading pace it showed at Daytona, have CORE looking forward to taking the green flag on March 18.

 

In the cockpit of the No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 R, full-season drivers Jon Bennett and Colin Braun welcome Nic Jönsson back to the driver line-up for Sebring.

 

 

Noteworthy:

  • CORE won the PC class at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 2012, 2014 and 2016.
  • Colin Braun earned the PC pole at Sebring in 2013 and 2016.
  • Jon Bennett finished second in PC in his Sebring debut (2011).
  • Nic Jönsson has twice finished on the Sebring podium with a Porsche (2003 and 2005). He won in a GTE-Am Ferrari in 2011.
  • The 12 Hours of Sebring is also the second round of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.

 

 

Jon Bennett
Driver: No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 R

 

“It was exciting to start a new chapter at Daytona with the Porsche 911 GT3 R. The transition to the new car required much effort in a short time to match the efficiency we expected from our PC program. With a new program and almost 30 class competitors, I was impressed to see our car in P1 roughly eight hours into the race. Unfortunately, a mistake by another competitor ended our run about 10 hours into the event. Overall, it was a promising start for our new Porsche GTD program.

 

“Post Daytona, our team continues to work on cockpit ergonomics and more driver change aids to ensure quick stops. We all left the Sebring test with optimism and excitement for the upcoming 12-hour race. We made big gains in improving the Porsche’s handling on the challenging surface at Sebring. We also learned some new set-up tricks that will sharpen our Porsche’s handling at the historic, and rough, Sebring circuit.

 

“Sebring’s rough surface is one of the biggest differences compared to Daytona. The darkness at Sebring is another challenge compared to Daytona, which is almost completely lit at night.

 

“Time is precious in the days leading up to the Sebring 12-Hour.  Our days are full with track time and meetings. That said, we always make time Friday night to sneak out into the infield and simply enjoy being at the racetrack and with the diehard Sebring race fans who enjoy our sport.”

 

 

Colin Braun
Driver: No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 R

“I’m very proud of the effort by CORE autosport to transition from PC to GTD. We were leading laps and competitive and right up there at the front. I think that goes to show the strength of CORE autosport and the competitiveness that we have. Unfortunately, a mistake by another driver took us out of the race. It was a big hit, but our crew is the best in the business and had the car ready for the Sebring test two weeks later.

 

“We had a great test at Sebring and were the quickest car both days. Not that, that means a whole lot, but it gives us good momentum to roll into the race weekend with and shows that we’re comfortable with the car. We worked through our test plan and things we wanted to learn. Up to then, we’d done all our testing and racing at Daytona, so it was nice to work on the car someplace besides a roval.

 

“We’re facing a lot of changes at Sebring: we’re running a different Continental Tire compound, all of our notes from previous Sebring races don’t apply, and you couldn’t pick two more different track than Daytona and Sebring. That’s the fun and challenge of a new car though; everywhere we go, we’re starting from scratch. We’ve got a lot of support from the guys at Porsche and hopefully they can point us in the right direction. Plus we know from Daytona we have a solid lineup that works well together with Jon, Nic and myself.”

 

 

Nic Jönsson
Driver: No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 R

“If you look back at the big picture from Daytona, we were continuously picking up speed in a car that was new to the team. The crew did a phenomenal job preparing the car for the race and we were able to run the pace that we wanted to. Unfortunately, someone made a mistake and took us out of the race, but coming away from Daytona I think everyone had a very positive attitude. The pace was there and the guys all did a great job on the pit stops.

 

“The car was pretty good right off the truck for the Sebring test. We worked through a lot of the management systems on the car and getting attuned to the tire. We made good progress with Porsche’s help and came away with a very positive result and a good idea what we need to do to have a good race.

 

“At Sebring, you have to be a little more aggressive from the get-go. The equipment is so much more reliable, that it’s almost a 12-hour sprint race. I think the plan is to stay on the lead lap, stay out of trouble, keep the car healthy and take care of your brakes. The last three hours is when everyone is going to start pushing really hard and you need to take care of your car so you still have all your aerodynamic pieces onboard and you want good brakes.”

 

Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring | March 16 – 19

Track Length: 3.74miles, 17 turns

Race Length: 12 Hours

 

SCHEDULE (All times Eastern)

Thursday, March 16

11:10am – 12:10pm: Practice #1 (All Classes)

3:15pm – 4:15pm: Practice #2 (All Classes)

7:30pm – 9:00pm: Practice #3 (All Classes)

Friday, March 17

9:20am – 10:20am: Practice #4 (All Classes)

11:45am – 12:30pm: Driver Autograph Session

1:00pm – 1:15pm: Qualifying (GTD Class)

Saturday, March 18

8:00am – 8:20am: Warm Up (All Classes)

9:15am – 10:10am: Open Grid / Fan Walk

10:50am – 10:40pm Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring

 

TV SCHEDULE (All times Eastern)

LIVE Qualifying:

Friday, March 16

1:00pm – 2:30pm: IMSA.com

LIVE Race U.S.:

Saturday, March 17

10:30am – 11:00pm: FOX Sports Go

12:30pm – 11:00pm: FS1

Full flag-to-flag coverage is available on FOX Sports GO with FS1 authentication

 

LIVE Race International:

Saturday, March 17

10:30am – 11:00pm: IMSA.com

 

LIVE In-Car Cameras & Commentary:

IMSA.com