All posts in “Laurens Vanthoor”

Best 911 RSR Narrowly Misses Podium at COTA

AUSTIN, Texas (May 7, 2017) – After a successful start to the season in the USA, the new Porsche 911 RSR narrowly missed out on securing its third podium result in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Circuit of the Americas in Austin. With the 510 hp racing car, which is a totally new development of Porsche Motorsport in Weissach, Patrick Pilet (France) and Dirk Werner (Germany) secured fourth in the GTLM class after holding the lead at one point. In the second 911 RSR fielded by the Porsche GT Team, Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and Wolf Henzler (Germany) took the flag in eighth place.
 
Patrick Pilet got off the line well at the 3.4-mile Grand Prix circuit near the capital of Texas. When several cars became entangled during the sprint to the first turn, Pilet managed to avoid the melee and launch a pursuit race from fourth place. First he snatched third and several laps later he overtook another competitor. After almost an hour of racing he was in the lead. This pace, however, could not go on. His teammate Dirk Werner, who took the wheel of the 911 RSR, was first shunted by a GTD car, and was then handed a 60-second penalty for running the red light at pit exit. As a result, all hopes for a possible podium finish were dashed. After two hours and forty minutes, Patrick Pilet finally took the checkered flag in fourth place.
 
The Turn 1 accident put an early end to the race for the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR shortly after the start. Wolf Henzler, who replaced Kévin Estre (France) at Austin so that the Frenchman could contest the WEC round in Spa, rejoined the race in fifth after the first stop for repairs. However, associated damages required longer repairs in the team garage. When Laurens Vanthoor finally returned to the racetrack, he was too far behind to make up any positions.
 
Round five of the IMSA SportsCar Championship will be contested on July 2 at Watkins Glen in upstate New York, following a break after the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

 
 
Steffen Höllwarth, Program Manager IMSA SportsCar Championship: “Everything actually ran according to plan with the 911. Our strategy to strengthen the car in the practices worked perfectly. We managed to take over the lead. In the middle stint, however, we were shunted by a GTD car, which affected the rear aerodynamics. The penalty for not seeing the lights in the pit lane was the final straw. Although we continued to fight our way back up, it was not enough for a podium. Now we have time to analyze the first third of the season. This is what we’ll do and after the summer break we’ll be back in full force.”
 
Patrick Pilet (911 RSR #911): “This race was pretty disappointing. We had the best chances to do well here, but it was our own fault that it didn’t succeed. We make mistakes that shouldn’t happen. I hope things go better for us at the next race in Watkins Glen.”
 
Dirk Werner (911 RSR #911): “We had the chance for a podium result here. It’s a shame that we didn’t managed to use it. At the exit of the pit lane I was alongside a BMW and I didn’t notice – for whatever reason – that the pit lights were red. The resulting penalty cost us the race, what’s more I had already been sent into a spin by a GTD car prior to this. All in all, it wasn’t a great race for us.”
 
Wolf Henzler (911 RSR #912): “I didn’t imagine my first race this season with the 911 RSR would be like this. In the very first corner after the start, a Ford and a Ferrari had a big encounter and that set off a chain reaction. When I sped up right behind a Corvette, it suddenly spun. I couldn’t avoid it and we collided. Our 911 RSR was so badly damaged that the resulting repairs cost us all chances of a good result.”
 
Laurens Vanthoor (911 RSR #912): “By the time I climbed into the car for my stint, the race was as good as over for us. That was not a great weekend for us. We’ll now go testing and hopefully we’ll return stronger after the summer break.”

Second Podium for New Porsche 911 RSR

LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 11, 2017)  At the Grand Prix of Long Beach, the new Porsche 911 RSR claimed its second podium result at its third race in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. On the spectacular city course in the port district, where the pits are just a stone’s throw away from where the docked ocean-liner giant “Queen Mary” lies anchored, Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and Kévin Estre (France) secured third place on Saturday with the No. 912 car. In the sister 510 hp 911 RSR fielded by the Porsche GT Team, last year’s winner Patrick Pilet (France) and Dirk Werner (Germany) finished sixth.

The race set against a postcard-perfect backdrop of sun, sea and palms is regarded as the American equivalent to the Monaco Grand Prix for good reason. Despite the short race duration of just 100 minutes, the completely walled and fenced 1.968-mile street circuit demands everything from the drivers, and on the grandstands and balconies of high-rise apartments, keen sports car fans mingle with famous stars. The simple reason for the high number of prominent celebrities is that Hollywood is virtually just around the corner.

The race was as spectacular as the backdrop. After just one lap, the leading trio in the particularly competitive GTLM class clashed – which opened the door for Laurens Vanthoor. Taking up the race from the fourth grid spot, the Belgian, who was the winner of the 2016 Macau Grand Prix is no stranger to narrow city circuits, moved into the lead. Vanthoor held onto the top spot for almost 45 minutes until the first pit stop – no other GTLM vehicle stayed out on the track as long without a tire change. It was only while handing the 911 RSR off to Kévin Estre that the position was lost. Running in fifth place, the Frenchman then took up the chase again. In the final laps of a race that had seen no less than five safety car phases, events turned truly dramatic: Kévin Estre advanced to fourth place and kept his cool in the hairpin just before the finish line: In stop-and-go traffic he overtook another competitor in the last seconds to secure the second podium result for Porsche in North America’s premier racing series.

In the second 911 RSR with the starting number 911, two former Long Beach winners had to line up at the back of the field; Patrick Pilet (2016) and Dirk Werner (2015) were unable to take part in the qualifying session due to an accident during practice and were therefore relegated to the very back of the 35-strong field. Putting in a spirited drive, Patrick Pilet ploughed his way through the pack and as he came into the pits he was running in eighth position. Dirk Werner gained another four places during his stint and was even looking good for a podium spot. However, a drive-through penalty imposed by the stewards of the meeting for making contact with another competitor put a sudden halt to his charge.

Round four of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will be contested on May 6 at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport: “It takes a while to digest such a race. It was turbulent and difficult to keep oversight. Finishing in third place at the end was pretty good. Still, you’re left feeling that there could have been more. Thanks to a good strategy and fast pit stops we managed to gain ground, particularly with our number 911 car, which had started from the very back, but because of the drive-through penalty it wasn’t enough for a podium result.”
Marco Ujhasi, Overall Project Manager GT Works Motorsport: “That was a crazy race with highs and lows. We suffered a setback on Friday when our number 911 car that was damaged during practice, but the team worked brilliantly to repair the car in time to compete. The race started turbulently. We were able to take the lead at a relatively early stage, which suited our strategy perfectly. At the next safety car phase we then split the strategy, like most other teams, and that also worked well. As far as the result is concerned, we definitely did the best we could under the circumstances, but no one needs such a rollercoaster of feelings every weekend.”
Patrick Pilet (911 RSR #911): “That was a dramatic race with a lot of incidents. The safety car had to be deployed often. There were a lot of collisions and drive-through penalties, and then the front-runner loses the race in the final lap because several cars didn’t make it around the bend. That’s pretty crazy.”
Dirk Werner (911 RSR #911): “Patrick got us back in the race with great overtaking maneuvers. We were lucky with the caution phases and by mid-way through the race we were already running in the top four, but then we were handed a drive-through penalty and our fight for a podium spot was over. It’s a shame for the team who worked so hard through the night to repair our 911 RSR. Those guys certainly deserved a better result.”
Kévin Estre (911 RSR #912): “It was a difficult race. We actually did everything right with our strategy. We were leading, but then lost places due to the many safety car phases. In my first lap I was hit quite hard in the rear. After that I had hardly any downforce, but I kept fighting and was rewarded in the bizarre final lap.”
Laurens Vanthoor (911 RSR #912): “We actually didn’t expect to be on the podium, but we’re happy to take it home. My teammates told me a lot about Long Beach, but I hadn’t expected it to be quite so turbulent here.”

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.”