Plenty to Celebrate for Porsche at Nürburgring 24 Between Victory and New Car Launch
Monday, May 14, 2018

Even before the prestigious 24 Hours of Nürburgring got under way last Saturday at the legendary German circuit, Porsche had cause for celebration.

On Friday, the manufacturer introduced the next-generation Porsche 911 GT3 R to the world. This car will make its competition debut in the 2019 Rolex 24 At Daytona as Porsche’s new offering for competitors in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona (GTD) class.

The rear-engine race car will be powered by a normally aspirated, four-liter, flat six-cylinder engine capable of producing up to 550 horsepower. Porsche noted that the engine is nearly identical to the powerplant used in its road-legal 911 GT3 RS production vehicle.

The manufacturer paid particular attention to aerodynamic refinements on the new 911 GT3 R, as well as optimization of safety features and lowered costs for servicing and spare parts. The new car already is available to be ordered, with deliveries anticipated in December 2018.

As the weekend progressed, the news got better for Porsche. A few hours after the new-for-2019 911 GT3 R was unveiled, two of the current-generation 911 GT3 Rs locked out the front row in qualifying for the 24 Hours of Nürburgring, led by Laurens Vanthoor in the No. 911 Manthey Racing entry.

On the heels of his first WeatherTech Championship victory in the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio just five days earlier, Vanthoor scored the pole position in the car he shared with Earl Bamber, his full-season WeatherTech Championship co-driver, as well as Kevin Estre and Romain Dumas. He was joined on the front row with Sven Muller in the No. 44 Falken Motorsports Porsche.

Meanwhile, another pair of full-time WeatherTech Championship teammates, Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet, reunited with Frederic Makowiecki at the Nürburgring for the first time since the trio won the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts in March. Makowiecki qualified sixth in the No. 912 Porsche that also included Richard Lietz in its driver lineup.

The No. 911 Porsche led from the start of the twice-around-the-clock race until Dumas encountered oil on the racetrack during the overnight hours, forcing him to spin and crash into one of the barriers, ending that team’s bid for victory.

However, the No. 912 machine overcame a puncture that cost the team at least four minutes to the leaders and picked up where its team car left off. Despite a red-flag stoppage for fog and sometimes treacherous conditions on a rainy Sunday, Makowiecki put together a heroic final stint in the car and held off the No. 4 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 – which included WeatherTech Championship regular Dirk Mueller in its driver lineup – to take the victory for the No. 912 squad.

“That was truly a race of the century,” said Porsche Vice President Motorsport and GT Cars, Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser. “It was simply indescribable under the circumstances with the rain, the red flag and that incredible final spurt.”

It was yet another crown jewel endurance race victory for Tandy, whose résumé already included victories in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, 24 Hours of Le Mans and Motul Petit Le Mans before this year’s wins at Sebring and Nürburgring.

“That was one of the most eventful races in my career,” Tandy said. “We experienced setbacks, but we knew that we had a winning car, a top team and top drivers. The restart towards the end played into our hands and Fred’s final stint was indicative of the entire race. Whenever we needed to, the team, drivers and car delivered a perfect performance.”

Pilet, the 2015 WeatherTech Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) champion, was particularly moved by the team’s ability to overcome the early setback to win.

“It’s unbelievable what we’ve achieved today,” said the Frenchman. “We started off with a puncture, fell far behind, but always believed in ourselves. Everyone pulled their weight. Only then is such a victory possible.”

Next up for Pilet, Tandy, Bamber, Vanthoor and many of their fellow GTLM competitors is the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 16-17.

The Porsche 911 GT3 R, meanwhile, will be in action in the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic at Detroit’s Belle Isle Park on Saturday, June 2, which will be televised live on FS2 starting at 12:30 p.m. ET. In addition to live IMSA Radio coverage on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio, a re-air of the WeatherTech Championship race will be available on FS1 on Sunday, June 3 at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Tickets are available now at DetroitGP.com.

Photo Courtesy of Porsche

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