The two-car Porsche GT Team has come on strong since returning from the traditional midseason break for IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship teams to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and both cars delivered on Saturday afternoon at Lime Rock Park, when the team finished 1-2 in the two-hour and 40-minute Northeast Grand Prix.
Leading the way in a race that featured the WeatherTech Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD) classes was 2015 WeatherTech Championship GTLM champion Patrick Pilet and Dirk Werner in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR.
Pilet crossed the stripe 14.5 seconds ahead of Laurens Vanthoor in the No. 912 Porsche that Gianmaria “Gimmi” Bruni started from the pole position. It was the first victory for the revolutionary new Porsche 911 RSR, the first one to be configured with the engine in front of the rear axle.
The No. 911 Porsche ran inside the top three positions throughout the race. Werner qualified third, but jumped to second at the start of the race and ran behind Bruni for the first 49 minutes of the race before taking the lead when Bruni came in for his first pit stop.
Werner pitted two laps later to turn the car over to Pilet, who rejoined the race in third place, but one spot ahead of Vanthoor in the No. 912. Pilet took the lead for the first time an hour and 17 minutes into the race once the first pit-stop cycle was completed.
Pilet lost the lead when he made his second and final pit stop, but reclaimed the top spot for the final time when Antonio Garcia pitted the No. 3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R from the lead. He would not be challenged the rest of the way en route to his eighth IMSA race victory.
“It means a lot,” Pilet said. “Since the first race of the season, we’ve fought for the victory but never achieved that. It was great because everybody worked so hard. It went smooth all weekend since first practice. Both cars were really quick, especially the 912. We managed to get a really good pace during the long runs and we knew it was a key here to be strong during the long runs and it went perfectly.”
It was Werner’s ninth career victory in IMSA history – including previous wins in both the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and American Le Mans Series – and his third in the WeatherTech Championship. Werner joined the Porsche GT Team this season after spending the past several seasons with BMW Team RLL.
“For me personally it’s a great day,” Werner said. “I just joined Porsche as a factory driver and to be the first together with Patrick, yeah, it’s a very good feeling. But it’s for the team and it feels good because they put in all the work, especially developing the car for such a long time, I think it’s over a year now.
“The car has been driven and tested and its sweet because the last couple of races I think we were already good enough to win, but we always had a little something go wrong. So now I am very happy, especially a 1-2 for Porsche and in GTD also to have two podiums. It’s a perfect day.”
It was the first win for the Porsche GT Team since last September’s race at Circuit of The Americas, which also was the last time the team swept the top two spots in GTLM.
A fierce battle for the final podium spot between Martin Tomczyk in the No. 24 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM and Garcia in the Corvette went to Tomczyk and his co-driver, John Edwards, by a slim margin. Garcia and co-driver Jan Magnussen wound up fourth in the No. 3 entry ahead of Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook, who rounded out the top five in the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT.
The No. 67 Ford GT also claimed the DEKRA Green Award. The award – developed in a partnership between IMSA, the Department of Energy (DOE), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International – recognizes the cleanest, fastest and most efficient GTLM car in each race.
Next up for the WeatherTech Championship is the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin on Sunday, Aug. 6. The two-hour and 40-minute race will include all four WeatherTech Championship classes.
Complete results are available at Results.IMSA.com.
Park Place Completes Porsche Sweep With GTD Victory At Lime Rock
Park Place Motorsports capped off a Porsche sweep Saturday at Lime Rock Park, with Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Lindsey driving the No. 73 Porsche 911 GT3.R to the GT Daytona (GTD) class victory in the Northeast Grand Prix.
It was the first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship win for Park Place since the Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in October, 2015, and completed a banner race for Porsche, which also went 1-2 in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class.
Bergmeister inherited the lead on the final series of green flag pit stops with 59 minutes remaining and went on to lead the race’s final 57 laps. The two hour, 40-minute race was run caution free for the first time in the WeatherTech Championship since another GT-only race at VIRginia International Raceway in 2015.
“Basically, we tried an undercut and pitted first for the last stop, so I knew it was going to be really difficult to manage the tires through a long stint,” said Bergmeister, who is no stranger to the top step of Lime Rock’s podium, winning in seven of 10 IMSA starts. “Once I got in the lead and passed Bryan (Sellers) I tried to be smooth and save the tires. He tried to do the same, but when Patrick (Long) came up and he was defending, I was able to check out a little bit.”
“It’s really just amazing, this is a really tough track to setup a car for and the Park Place guys did a stellar job,” added Lindsey. “And Joerg is just a master at this place, he brought it home in spectacular fashion. He made it look easy. It’s good to finally get a victory for Park Place and everybody back in Dallas.”
Bryan Sellers finished second, 3.473 seconds behind Bergmeister, in the No. 48 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 started by TOTAL Pole Award winner Madison Snow. The runner-up finish was the best finish this season Lamborghini and Paul Miller Racing.
Rounding out the podium was the No. 28 Porsche 911 GT3.R of Patrick Long and Daniel Morad. It was the second WeatherTech Championship start of the season for Long, who got the call to drive just one week ago, and his first for Alegra Motorsports. Long took the lead from polesitter Snow 35 minutes into the race and led the next 17 laps before losing the lead on the first round of pit stops.
The points-leading No. 63 Ferrari 488 GT3 of Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan finished sixth, the first time the duo missed the podium since the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona. Trouble for the team’s closest championship competitors, however, keeps the team atop the GTD standings with four races remaining.