On the trail of Porsche legends
The ninth race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship brings the GTD Pro and GTD teams to the Virginia International Raceway close to the North-American east coast. The so-called VIR is the birthplace of IMSA GT races and the first victory in 1971 was won by a Porsche.
The Virginia International Raceway was created, like so many racetracks in the USA, after the years of street races. The foundations of the track were made on private property and its course was not planned. Instead, the track layout was designed according to the natural conditions of the landscape: Stones and trees were left where they were and the track naturally curved around them. Until 2013, a great oak tree was an elemental part of the track. Sadly, this tree was a victim of a storm. Its memory was preserved: The tree was so distinctive that a section of the track was named 'Oak Tree'.
Porsche also has precious memories of the VIR: When the IMSA held the first GT race on the racetrack in 1971, the Porsche 914-6 GT was also lined up in the starting grid. Peter Gregg and Hurley Haywood won the first race, along with the race in the following year with the Porsche 911 S. Since then, the track saw quite a few changes.
A trip down memory lane
The track begins directly after the pit exit and leads toward the u-shaped 'Horseshoe' right turn at a high velocity. After a slight turn to the left, the track heads into the third turn, through which the vehicles will need some space to navigate safely. The speed is further reduced in the following left-right combination, as the drivers hit hooks – fitting to the turn's name: Left Hook. After that, the track heads into a long stretch that is not quite straight, but also not very curvy. The participants can draw quite some speed out of their cars. They race toward the 'Oak Tree' turn at high speed, where they are forced to almost halve their speed. The way back leads across an actual straight, which is slowed down slightly by the 'Madison Avenue'. The final track section leads toward pit lane and around a slight turn back onto the start-finish straight.
In the last GT-only race of the IMSA, the Porsche Customer Racing Teams had achieved good standings with a total of three podiums across the two classes. We are excited to see if they can offer a repeat performance. If you want to watch, the Qualifying will be streamed by the IMSA on Saturday from 09.40 p.m. onwards. The race itself will be streamed on Sunday from 08.05 p.m. to 10.50 p.m..