American Le Mans Series, round 8 in Laguna Seca, USA
Stuttgart. It beat them all – on the track and at the gas pump. At its first outing on the West Coast of the USA, the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid beat all other GT vehicles in Laguna Seca.
With Porsche works drivers Romain Dumas (France) and Richard Lietz (Austria) at the wheel, it turned the fastest race lap on the challenging course in Monterey/California and conquered the six hour distance with just three pit stops, while its fastest opponents in the GT class had to stop five times: An impressive demonstration of Porsche Intelligent Performance.
Porsche’s strong performance at the riveting eighth round of the American Le Mans Series was rounded off by Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA):
With the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, the title defenders won the GT class in a photo finish final and secured their first win of the season featuring the world’s fastest sports cars. For Porsche, this marked victory number three after Mid-Ohio and Baltimore.
Interest from the fans for the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid was enormous in California, as well. And the way the innovative sports car from Weissach – which started from the rear of the grid and was not eligible for points – chased through the field in just a few laps to snatch the lead caused a sensation in the grandstands.
The Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid convinced with its consistently fast lap times and low fuel consumption and finished ahead of all other GT vehicles thanks to its ground-breaking drive concept.
“The start phase was huge fun, because it was relatively easy to overtake the slower competitors,” said Romain Dumas. “But it’s even more fun because we can apply superior tactics thanks to the lower fuel consumption. We are much more flexible and we made the most of this today.”
Richard Lietz stated: “We had the least pit stops of all the teams and showed clearly what the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid can do. We didn’t experience one technical problem and left all the other GT vehicles behind us. Our expectations have been far exceeded.”
Thrills and spills also characterized the fight for victory in the fiercely-contested GT class as always.
Spectacular tussles for positions on the track and in the pits as well as frequent changes at the lead were played out over the entire race – and in the last two hours, long after darkness had fallen on the Laguna Seca Raceway, events began to heat up: In the penultimate lap, Joerg Bergmeister squeezed past a BMW into second place with his Porsche 911 GT3 RSR fielded by Flying Lizard Motorsports.
But the most successful GT pilot in the American Le Mans Series wasn’t yet finished.
He wanted victory – and in the final lap he pushed fast the leading Ferrari.
“That was our first win this season. We did it at last and it was high time for that,” said Joerg Bergmeister. “We didn’t have the fastest car in the field today, but we fought to the flag. That paid off. To go from third to first in the last laps – you don’t experience this every day in such a strongly-supported series.”
Patrick Long added: “Joerg won the race today. Our tactic was to keep out of any squabbles as much as possible and to have the car in one piece at the end to fight for victory. This worked, but the driving style of several competitors was clearly too tough today. It almost cost us the race.”
In the second Porsche 911 GT3 RSR fielded by Flying Lizard Motorsports, Porsche factory pilot Marco Holzer (Germany) joined forces with American Seth Neiman to bring home ninth place.
“The track was new for me and has to be one of the most beautiful in the USA. The race was a fantastic experience,” he said. “I’m pleased that we finished well. It was great fun.”
Sascha Maassen (Germany) and Bryce Miller (USA) saw the flag in tenth with Paul Miller Racing’s Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.
After wins from Mid-Ohio and Baltimore, luck evaded Wolf Henzler in Laguna Seca.
The Porsche works driver from Germany had taken over the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR from his teammate Bryan Sellers (USA) and was lying within striking distance of the top when a rival hit his rear shortly before the halfway point of the race.
The impact damaged the water pump and put a stop to Falken Tire’s recent run of successes.
“Such a retirement is of course hugely disappointing, especially after our wins of the last weeks,” Wolf Henzler said. “Now we have to roll up our sleeves and try to turn the best season for our team so far into a happy ending at Road Atlanta.”