Six hours of excitement and drama – and the greatest success of the season for Porsche in the Tudor United SportsCar Championship: On the storied race track in Watkins Glen, Porsche celebrated a double GTLM-class victory with the classic 911 sports car at an eventful race.
After 157 laps on the 5.472-kilometre circuit in the US state of New York, Porsche works driver Wolf Henzler (Germany) and his American teammate Bryan Sellers won the fifth round of the popular US sports car championship with the 470 hp 911 RSR campaigned by the Falken Tire customer team. Clinching second place for Porsche North America was the newly-crowned Le Mans winner Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Jörg Bergmeister (Germany). And top honours in the Michelin Green-X Challenge also went to Porsche: The 911 RSR manned by Patrick Pilet (France) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain), which is based on the seventh generation of the iconic 911 sports car, was distinguished as the GT car with the best overall efficiency. The Porsche 911 RSR features the smallest engine capacity in the GT field. Its road-going 911 GT3 sibling is also appreciated by customers all over the world for its excellent ratio of performance to fuel consumption.
Patrick Pilet was the first to turn heads at the traditional six-hour race. The Porsche works driver from France took up the race from the fifth grid spot in his class and on a wet track promptly swept into the lead in the first lap with sensational overtaking manoeuvres. Driving on slicks he then proceeded to pull ahead of his pursuers in the first hour of the race to hold the lead by almost a minute. Also in the first lap, Earl Bamber had to overcome the first setback: when an opponent spun directly in front of him, he was unable to avoid contact and damaged the front splitter which was later replaced. Down by a lap, he took up the chase. But the drama didn’t stop there. No sooner had the rain stopped and the track begun to dry when even heavier showers returned. The result was multiple accidents which saw the safety car deployed. At one point the track was covered in so much water that for safety reasons the field was red-flagged and had to return to the pits.
The final decision only came in the last race hour. Wolf Henzler moved up into the top spot because, unlike his competitors, when the race went green again it was not necessary for him to make another pit stop. Patrick Pilet was running a promising second place. But just before the next caution phase, the Frenchman had to hand his 911 RSR off to Nick Tandy, otherwise he would have exceeded his permitted driving time and incurred a penalty. After this unscheduled pit stop a podium spot seemed out of reach. But Earl Bamber came to rescue. On a wet track, in a spectacular manoeuvre, he overtook precisely the opponent with whom he had become entangled in the first lap and crowned his first start at Watkins Glen with second place.
In the GTD class, Americans Andy Lally and John Potter joined forces with Marco Seefried (Austria) to score second place. They contested the race for the Magnus Racing customer team in the Porsche 911 GT America, a vehicle developed specifically for the Tudor United SportsCar Championship.