After the qualifying comes the race. Unfortunately. Because what happened at the fifth round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship could not have been predicted by viewers and fans. The result of the qualifying was taken ad absurdum. But from the beginning.
Two sides of the same coin. Bad luck for Porsche in Alton.
Porsche secures front row of the grid in qualifying.
In practice, you don't really know what the optimal tactics for qualifying are until you cross the finish line but the experienced Porsche works team once again lived up to its name. At the start of the 15-minute session, Frédéric Makowiecki, behind the wheel of start number 911, and Laurens Vanthoor, in the 912 sister car, sat tight for a minute. Not to steam past the field from behind but to ensure a clear track for the next six laps. During the qualifying, they pushed ever closer to the limit and made optimum use of the track's relatively poor grip level after heavy rainfall.With a time of 1:40.389 minutes, Makowiecki was unstoppable, surpassing the pole lap that Vanthoor set last year by three-tenths of a second. The third pole position from five races so far this season once again underlined the strengths of the latest generation of the 911 RSR. And yet it was still not enough for Makowiecki/Tandy (starting place 1) and Vanthoor/Bamber (starting place 2) to clinch the victory.
When fate is in the driving seat.
Both works cars were capable of winning at the highest level due to their outstanding consistency and had initially been able to pull away from the field together until fate took the wheel.
After only 11 laps, Frédéric Makowiecki was already in the lead but had to make an unscheduled early pit stop due to a puncture. During a safety-car phase, start number 911 managed to work its way back to first position, even managing to gain an 18-second lead. But another puncture put an end to Makowiecki/Tandy's long awaited first victory in the new 911 RSR in the USA after more than 2:40 hours on the track. After the required pit stop, Tandy fell back to third place. Despite his attack and the fastest lap time of 1:41.333 minutes in the closing stages, he was unable to push his way forward and crossed the finish line in third place. "This is the saddest podium of my career," Makowiecki commented after the race.
The start number 912 of the reigning GTLM champions, Bamber and Vanthoor, did not fare much better. Shortly after the safety-car phase, the rear diffuser was damaged so badly in a close duel with a BMW that one pit stop was not enough. The necessary repairs knocked the car back three laps. Under these circumstances, fifth was the best position that could be hoped for.
An impressive pursuit in the GTD class.
The Porsche 911 GT3 of the Wright Motorsports customer team finished sixth in the GTD class in accordance with FIA GT3 regulations after a strong pursuit race. Patrick Long and Ryan Hardwick, with start number 16, consistently pushed their way forward throughout the race from starting in 12th position and, after finishing sixth in Alton, are currently ranked sixth overall.
Here we go again: Road Atlanta.
Before the sixth race of the season on 06 September at Road Atlanta, Porsche is sitting in third place in the manufacturer ranking. In the Drivers’ Championship, Laurens Vanthoor and Earl Bamber remain in second place. Let’s hope that we leave the bad luck behind in Sebring and that the Porsche works team can be rewarded for their great work with a victory.