Unwavering will to win in Sebring: the Porsche Customer Racing Teams.
Porsche customer racing teams gathered in the Sunshine State Florida for the Super Sebring Weekend of the World Endurance Championship WEC and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – and proved their will to win.
With two races and two race series, the Super Sebring Weekend is an annual highlight for everyone: in just one weekend, countless teams gather on the Sebring International Raceway to participate in thrilling competitions against each other. Beside the manufacturer teams with their LMDh vehicles in the Hypercar class of the WEC and the GTP class of the IMSA, the customer racing teams entered the contests for spots on the podium with their GT vehicles.
Four 911 in the top ten of the 1000 Miles of Sebring.
In the WEC, the Iron Dames team fully-staffed with women went into a long, dominant lead against 13 other vehicles of the GTE AM class, after having started from the pole of the GTE Am grid. After three hours, the team aimed to continue this dominant performance, but the uneven track of the Sebring International Raceway forced the pink Porsche 911 RSR out of the curve and into the greenery. It was the very same curve that caused issues for multiple vehicles. On the way back onto the track, the Iron Dames lost their rear and caused one of the five Full Course Yellow phases. With that, they fell behind in the rankings, but did not lose their will to win: Throughout the race, the Iron Dames fought their way back into the top 10 of the LMGTE Am class and finally onto eighth spot. A strong performance of the drivers Sarah Bovy, Michelle Gatting and Rahel Frey.
Meanwhile, their team colleagues Claudio Schiavoni, Matteo Cressoni and Alessio Picariello of the Iron Lynx team started from the 13th position of the GTE Am class – between three other Porsche 911 RSR teams. Within three hours, the team worked its way through the middle grid forward without major incidents until they reached the sixth spot. In the hours four to six, the team fell behind again on eighth spot, but by utilizing a solid strategy and a good pacing, they returned to sixth spot two hours before the final flag fell. This is also where they remained until they crossed the finish line.
On the starting grid in front of the Iron Lynx customer racing team was the GR Racing Team with Michael Wainwright, Riccardo Pera and Benjamin Barker. They too worked their way through the field, in front of the Iron Lynx team at first, and after the second hour behind them again. Due to the many yellow phases, the team finally lined up behind the third spot and honed in on it. Right before the race concluded, they couldn’t defend their position further and finally crossed the finish line on seventh spot.
From sixth spot on the starting grid, the Project 1 – AO Racing 911 RSR entered the race. Their first three hours were turbulent with a drop to 12th spot of the 1000 Miles of Sebring. Still, they proved to be tough competition. They defended their position to keep the chance for a comeback, and attacked where they could. Finally, the tenacity of P.J. Hyett, Gunnar Jeannette and Matteo Cairoli paid off: they pushed forward and closed in on the top ten. But they too couldn’t evade the consequences of the FCY phases and fell back on twelfth spot, where they finished the race.
Pretty much a staple of the World Endurance Championship: the Dempsey-Proton Racing Team. They started out from the eleventh spot of the LMGTE Am grid and immediately chose to attack. Within the first two hours, they utilized the yellow phases and moments in-between effectively, and proved their experience. The result: in the third hour, they had come in on second place of the GTE Am rankings and were still aiming for first spot. However, they also were busy defending their spot against the following car. In the end, it was not enough for the first spot, but still, the second place on the podium was won.
The performances of the Porsche customer racing teams prove that they will not back down from tough duels with the competition in the 2023 season.
A twelve-hour rollercoaster of emotions in the IMSA.
On the Saturday after the 1000 Miles of Sebring, the vehicles of the IMSA GTD-Pro and GTD classes entered the grid for the 12 Hours of Sebring. Characteristic for the 71st edition of the 12-hour race were the many changes of placements in the GTD-Pro and GTD classes. Still, one of the Porsche customer racing teams proved how significant firm calmness can be in a race.
Pfaff Motorsports experienced an accident during the qualifying on the previous day, leading many to doubt that the team would even appear for the starting grid. But after eleven hours of repairs, the fans could discover the red plaid of the Porsche 911 GT3 R of Pfaff Motorsports in the middle of the field – and it delivered an unparalleled comeback. Klaus Bachler from Austria and Patrick Pilet from France received support from Porsche factory driver Laurens Vanthoor for their run.
Patrick Pilet was in the seat for the final stint of the Pfaff Motorsport vehicle and for almost two hours, drove through the grid of other GTD-Pro vehicles – unimpressed by accidents and yellow phases. Finally, it was the accident of both Porsche GTD vehicles that proved to be a blessing for Pfaff: the following FCY phase helped Pilet save a lot of fuel, which carried him through the final 19 minutes of the race and on to the first spot of the GTD-Pro category.
Meanwhile, the team Kelly-Moss with Riley won the third spot in the GTD class – an impressive performance for the newly-founded team with the drivers Julien Andlauer, David Brule and Alec Udell. The second vehicle of the team and the two Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R crossed the finish line on the spots six, seven and eight respectively.
Beside the red plaid 911 of Pfaff Motorsports, the bright green Porsche 911 GT3 R belonging to AO racing caught the eye of many spectators. The lovingly dubbed “Rexy” finished on 16th spot in the GTD class.
All in all, the Super Sebring Weekend was a full success for the customer racing teams and promises more thrilling battles throughout the IMSA and WEC season. The WEC teams Project 1 – AO, Dempsey-Proton, Proton Competition, Iron Lynx, Iron Dames and GR Racing will next be competing on April 16 in Portugal. Meanwhile, the IMSA teams will be entering the grid on April 15 in Long Beach, USA for the next race.