The Porsche GT Team has achieved maximum success at its final outing in the GTLM class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. In the highly dramatic twelve-hour race in Sebring, Britain’s Nick Tandy, Frédéric Makowiecki from France and Earl Bamber scored a victory with the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR.
The New Zealander celebrated twice after also clinching second place in the No. 912 car, which he shared with his teammates Laurens Vanthoor from Belgium and Neel Jani from Switzerland. After contesting a total of 75 races since 2014, the North American Porsche works team has achieved 21 wins and 56 podium results. In the GTD class, the customer team Wright Motorsports took first place with the Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Pascal Zurlinden (Director Factory Motorsport): “That’s just crazy. There’s no better way to wrap up a factory programme. At the end of our IMSA campaign, we secured three wins in a row at Road Atlanta, Laguna Seca and now Sebring. That’s phenomenal. Congratulations as well to our customer squad Wright Motorsports. And let’s not forget our one-two success today at the WEC in Bahrain. There, too, we managed to celebrate another class win with a customer team. It was an incredibly successful day for Porsche Motorsport.”
In an eventful twelve-hour race in Florida, the decision in the GTLM class went down to the wire to the final 15 minutes of the race. After the last of nine safety car phases, Tandy had manoeuvred himself into the slipstream of the leading BMW. Shortly after the last restart, the frontrunner sustained tyre damage in the aftermath of a collision between several GTD vehicles.
Tandy snatched the lead in his ca. 515 hp Porsche 911 RSR and held tight to his front spot to the flag. For the British racer and his teammate Makowiecki, this was the third victory in a row at the esteemed Sebring endurance classic.
Bamber, who drove stints in both works cars at the season finale of the North American sports car racing series, crossed the finish line in second place, just 9.025 seconds behind. The Porsche factory squad concluded the last season with the 911 RSR in the GTLM class ranking third in the championship.
“It feels somehow very strange to be called on to the podium as the winner and runner up at the same time,” said Bamber. “You don’t get that every day. I contributed only in a minor way to the victory of number 911 car, my main task was to do the stints in ‘my’ number 912 car. Our 911 RSR could never match the pace of the sister car, but we still didn’t give up. A one-two at the finale – there’s no better way to bid farewell to a racing series. It’ll remain in our memories forever.”
Huge celebrations as well in the pits of the Porsche customer team Wright Motorsports. Works driver Patrick Long, his American compatriot Ryan Hardwick and Belgium’s Jan Heylen brought the 500+hp 911 GT3 R with the starting number 16 over the finish line in first place. Despite the lack of grip at times and an unplanned change of the brakes, the strong trio maintained their composure in the fierce competition of the GTD class. The customer team from the US state of Ohio wrapped up the championship in second place, just two points shy of the title.
Shortly before the race, the works team bid the loyal fans of the Porsche 911 RSR farewell with a special spectacle. Five GTLM vehicles of the 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2020 generations turned three parade laps on the legendary circuit in Florida decked out in the much-loved liveries of Brumos, Mobil1, Coca-Cola and the special “Thank You” farewell wrap.
To the delight of spectators, the drivers Laurens Vanthoor, Frédéric Makowiecki, Patrick Long, Jonathan Benett and Cooper MacNeil performed wheel spins and let the engines roar. On Wednesday evening, Pascal Zurlinden (Director Factory Motorsport) and Head of Operations Steffen Höllwarth thanked all employees of the Core Autosport squad at an emotional team event.
Result GTLM class
1/ Tandy/Makowiecki/Bamber (GB/F/NZ), Porsche 911 RSR #911, 332 laps
2/ Vanthoor/Bamber/Jani (B/NZ/CH), Porsche 911 RSR #912, 332 laps
3/ Krohn/Edwards/Farfus (FIN/USA/BR), BMW M8 GTE #24, 331 laps
4/ Spengler/De Phillippi/Herta (CDN/USA/USA), BMW M8 GTE #25, 330 laps
5/ Garcia/Taylor/Catsburg (E/USA/NL), Corvette C8.R #3, 323 laps
6/ Gavin/Milner/Fässler (GB/USA/CH), Corvette C8.R #4, 293 laps