MARKING 50 years after it first won the overall title at the 24 Hours of Daytona, Porsche last weekend fielded two of its 911 RSR race cars to take on one of motor sport’s most popular endurance races.
But while the brand led grid half a century ago, Porsche at this year’s race managed only top 10 finishes. The No. 912 911 RSR, driven by two-time overall Le Mans winner Earl Bamber, Laurens Vanthoor and Gianmaria Bruni, took sixth in the GTLM class while the No. 911 car shared by Patrick Pilet, Nick Tandy and Frederic Makowiecki landed in eighth spot.
The No. 911 car led the field during the early hours of the race but two pit stops for repairs hampered a top result. With Tandy on board, the RSR slid at high speed over the green strip at the Bus Stop chicane, which was still damp after a shower. The car them crashed into a stack of tires, and was so badly damaged that it had to be pushed straight into the workshop for repairs.
The crew managed to get Tandy back on the track after 20 minutes, but by which time he had lost 13 laps to the class leader and fell from fourth place to eighth. Another crash on the same spot during the night cost the team more time.
For its part, the No. 912 Porsche ran without issues. But the car was unable to match the pace of the frontrunners over the distance. Also, the caution phases at this year’s Daytona race were few, making it difficult to close the gap to the leaders as the field ran behind the safety car.
“We gained a lot of positive experiences in preparing for the race and at the start, also in terms of the performance of our 911 RSR. Unfortunately we weren’t able to implement this over the entire race distance. The whole team worked excellently and fought to the finish. The pit stops for repairs ran perfectly, yet we couldn’t do any more. That was not our race,” said Frank-Steffen Walliser, Porsche vice-president for motor sport and GT cars.
Pilet added this year’s Daytona race was “unusual” as it had “so few caution phases.”
As always, the recent 24 Hours of Daytona was run on the 5.729-kilometer Daytona International Speedway, which features two fast, banked turns and a tight infield. Porsche this year competed against BMW, Chevrolet, Ferrari and Ford.