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29 Jan 2018

Porsche clinch 6th and 8th place at the 2018 Daytona 24 Hours

Congratulations to the Porsche works teams who battled through.

Fifty years after Porsche’s first overall victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona, the Porsche GT Team fielded two 911 RSRs at the long distance classic in Florida. The 510 hp racer with the starting number 912, driven by two-time overall Le Mans winner Earl Bamber (New Zealand), Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and Gianmaria Bruni (Italy), finished sixth in the strongly contested GTLM class.

The second 911 RSR with the starting number 911, in which Patrick Pilet (France), Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France) led the field at one point in the first third of the race, took the flag in eighth. Two pit stops for repairs after leaving the track in the Bus Stop chicane hampered a top result. 

Facing strong opposition from BMW, Chevrolet, Ferrari and Ford, they were able to build on their good qualifying performance and maintain contact to the frontrunners on the tradition-steeped, challenging racetrack featuring two banked turns and a tight infield. After a brief downpour five hours into the race, the strategists at the pit wall made their move: unlike most of their rivals, the Porsche pilots did not switch to wet tyres but continued on slicks.

Although their lap times were initially slower, they were spared from stopping twice for tyre changes. Thanks to this perfect strategy and his remarkable performance on a wet then slowly drying circuit, Patrick Pilet moved into the lead of the GT field after six hours. He only lost the front spot when he eventually came in for a scheduled driver change. 

The pursuit that his teammate Nick Tandy then launched to retake the lead did not last long. After eight hours and 293 laps, the 2015 outright Le Mans winner lost control of his car in the Bus Stop chicane, slid at high speed over the still wet green strip next to the track, and impacted heavily with a stack of tyres. His 911 was so badly damaged that it had to be pushed straight into the garage for repairs after returning to the pits.

The crew of mechanics immediately set to work and managed to get Tandy back on the track after 20 minutes. However, the 13 laps that he lost to the class leaders because of this incident proved impossible to regain. The dream of the 78th class win for Porsche was buried. His second impact at the same spot during the night cost more valuable time, but proved inconsequential due to the already significant gap. 

The race for the #912 Porsche 911 RSR, shared by Earl Bamber, Laurens Vanthoor and Gianmaria Bruni, ran without issues. The trio made no major mistakes, however they were unable to match the pace of the frontrunners over the distance. In addition, the caution phases at this year’s Daytona race were few and far between, making it impossible to close the gap to the leaders behind the safety car. 

Race result, GTLM class

1. Westbrook/Briscoe/Dixon (GB/USA/NZL), Ford GT, 783 laps
2. Hand/Müller/Bourdais (USA/D/F), Ford GT, 783
3. Magnussen/Garcia/Rockenfeller (DK/E/D), Chevrolet Corvette, 781
4. Gavin/Milner/Fässler (GB/USA/CH), Chevrolet Corvette, 780
5. Vilander/Pier Guidi/Calado/Rigon (SF/I/I/I), Ferrari 488, 774
6. Bamber/Vanthoor/Bruni (NZ/B/I), Porsche 911 RSR, 774
7. Krohn/Edwards/Catsburg/Farfus (SF/USA/NL/BRA), BMW M8, 774
8. Pilet/Tandy/Makowiecki (F/GB/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 753
9. Sims/de Phillippi/Auberlen/Eng (GB/USA/USA/A), BMW M8, 731

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