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The Pfaff Motorsport #9 drivers Klaus Bachler and Patrick Pilet holding their third spot trophies.


Through the rain into the sun

Slow start

The ninth run of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship brought the GTD Pro and GTD classes to Alton, Virginia. There, five Porsche Customer Racing Teams entered the third-last race for points in the 2023 season. Beneath a cloudy sky, yet warm 29° Celsius and high humidity, the teams entered Virginia International Raceway.

In the GTD Pro class, Pfaff Motorsports #9 started from fourth spot of their class and tenth overall with Patrick Pilet. The Porsche 911 GT3 R of the GTD classes entered from the following start placements: AO Racing #80 with PJ Hyett from 11th spot (16th overall), Kelly-Moss with Riley #91 with Alan Metni from 12th (17th overall), Wright Motorsports #77 with Alan Brynjolfsson from 13th of his class (18th overall), and Kelly-Moss with Riley #91 with David Brule from class position 14 (19th overall).


As the green flag was swung, all vehicles entered the first turns without any issues. For the four Porsche vehicles of the GTD class, nothing changed in terms of positions. This meant that they could anticipate a though battle through the grid. At the same time, Patrick Pilet #9 fell behind by one spot in the GTD Pro class. With that, the Pfaff Motorsports Team had to wait for the right time – the class mix had placed a GTD vehicle between Pilet and the fourth placed car of the GTD Pro class.


Patrick Pilet in the number nine had few chances to pass in the first few minutes. Luck was also not on the side of the Kelly-Moss with Riley Team: The Porsche 911 GT3 R #92 had crashed agains the tire barrier in turn six. Parts were strewn across the track and the vehicle was also stuck in the middle of the turn. Luckily, driver David Brule was unharmed. The result: full course yellow after ten race minutes.

The Porsche 911 GT3 R #92 of Kelly-Moss with Riley in a turn ahead of the Pfaff Motorsports #9.
Kelly-Moss with Riley #92.

Going in for the attack

The track was cleared with two hours and 15 minutes of remaining race time still on the clock. Patrick Pilet could use the dense grid to his advantage and returned to the tenth overall position. The next GTD vehicle was close to reach, giving him chances at further passing maneuvers. Shorty after, Alan Metni #91 of Kelly-Moss with Riley began to close in on the BMW ahead of him.


Shortly after the final two race hours had begun, the GTD vehicles entered pitlane first. For AO Racing, Sebastian Priaulx stepped behind the wheel of the Porsche 911 GT3 R #80, while Kay van Berlo entered the #91 for Kelly-Moss with Riley. Trent Hindman switched out Alan Brynjolfson in the Wright Motorsports #77.


As the first of the GTD Pro class, Patrick Pilet decided to stop by the pit. He returned on ninth position of the overall grid and fifth spot of the GTD Pro class. This gave him the chance to improve his position in the GTD Pro class: The fourth-placed participant of this class was just ahead of him.


After the pit stop and driver change in the #77, Trent Hindman of Wright Motorsports got the chance to catch up to the Aston Martin on the overall position 16. Priaulx and Kay van Berlo also benefited from the stops: Priaulx had reached 14th position in the #80, and Berlo in the #91 was roughly four seconds behind him.


With a bit more than one and a half hours of race time left, the next Full Course Yellow phase was announced: The Aston Martin #78 had failed and driven straight into a tire pile. At this time, rain also began to fall – lucky timing for all participants. As a result, they drove at reduced speed onto the wet track with their slicks.

The Wright Motorsports Porsche #77 from above.
Wright Motorsports #77.

Getting ahead

The rain ended and due to the heat, the water mostly evaporated. Just a few moments later, the track was cleared again. Due to a pit stop during the yellow phase, the last three GTD Pro vehicles – including Klaus Bachler in the #9 – were at the back of the grid. After the green flag, he immediately cashed in the fourth class position. A bit further at the front, Kay van Berlo in the #91 Kelly-Moss with Riley sped up and took the 12th overall position behind the #77 sister car.


In the Pfaff Motorsports #9 Porsche 911 GT3 R, Klaus Bachler went in for the next passing maneuver: He passed the GTD Pro Mercedes-AMG on third class position. During this move, his right front fender bumped against the left rear fender of his opponent. While Bachler lost a bit of material, he could continue racing without issue. The collision was reviewed by race control and remained without consequences for the Porsche driver.


Shortly after, Priaulx #80 and van Berlo #91 were in close quarters with an opposing vehicle. While Priaulx was close behind the competition in the pink "Roxy", van Berlo was directly next to them. On a long straight, van Berlo was passed by the opponent and Priaulx. Sebastian Priaulx also passed the opponent and therefore reached the 13th overall position, while Kay van Berlo fell behind on 15th.


As one hour of race time remained, Klaus Bachler and the Pfaff Motorsports Team opted for an early last pit stop. Despite an exchange of the front of the 911 GT3 R was planned, the team opted not to commence with the switch to save as much time as possible. Though this still threw Bachler behind onto fourth position of the GTD Pro class, but it was yet to be seen if this strategy would be successful in the long run.


After the remaining GT vehicles had completed their last pit stop, the Porsche Customer Racing Teams were on the following overall positions: Klaus Bachler #9 on eighth position (class position three), Sebastian Priaulx #80 on ninth (class position six), Kay van Berlo #91 on 10th position (class position seven), and Trent Hindman #77 on 11th position (class position eight).


With just a little more than 40 remaining minutes to the race, the pink AO Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R closed in on the GTD Pro sister car on the eighth overall position. Sebastian Priaulx passed the number nine of Pfaff Motorsports with "Roxy" and only seemed to increase in speed. Kay van Berlo also got the most out of the final race minutes to pass by the Pfaff Motorsports #9 and reach the ninth overall position.

The pink AO Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R #80 in a close-up from the front.
AO Racing #80.

Against the odds

Trent Hindman in the #77 Wright Motorsports car was less successful: He was being tracked by the opposing McLaren over the course of a longer time and was finally passed on a straight. 12th overall position and ninth class position for Hindman. Still, he passed Klaus Bachler for the 11th overall position a few minutes later. The damage from the earlier collision with the Mercedes-AMG had left its mark on the Pfaff Motorsports Porsche and Bachler had to give his all to not lose too much time per lap.


Kay van Berlo came under strong pressure in the last minutes of the race: The McLaren behind him constantly attempted to pass. But the Kelly-Moss with Riley #91 countered its attempts for three rounds. But as the final two laps remained, van Berlo slipped slightly and was passed.


The checkered Flag was finally swung above the finish line. Despite the unfavorable starting conditions, the Porsche Teams achieved three top 10 positions in the overall and the third spot of the podium in the GTD Pro class.


The results of the Challenge at VIR:

8. AO Racing #80: Sebastian Priaulx, PJ Hyett (6th position of the GTD class)

10. Kelly-Moss with Riley #91: Kay van Berlo, Alan Metni (8th position of the GTD class)

11. Wright Motorsports #77: Trent Hindman, Alan Brynjolfsson (9th. position of the GTD class)

12. Pfaff Motorsports #9: Klaus Bachler, Patrick Pilet (3rd position of the GTD Pro class)

DNF Kelly-Moss with Riley #92: David Brule, Alec Udell


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