The two Porsche 963s of the Porsche Penske Motorsport factory team entered in the 61st edition of the 24 Hours of Daytona suffered serious problems. On its debut in the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship, the new hybrid prototypes impressed with their performance, but lost touch with the leaders due to technical faults. After extensive repair work, however, the crews of the 500 kW (680 hp) GTP racing machines scored critical points in the North American championship. In the GTD class, the new Porsche 911 GT3 R had almost no chance of achieving high scores due to the unfavorable Balance of Performance ranking.
The 24 Hours of Daytona race started at 7:00 p.m. Saturday. Nick Tandy and Felipe Nasr were the first in the cockpits of the two Porsche 963s, and their performances looked promising. Unfortunately, the factory team quickly suffered its first setback: replacing the high-voltage battery dropped machine #7 in the peloton. Later the car had to be taken back to the pits to repair the damaged cooling system.
Nick Tandy in the number 6 car catapulted himself from ninth to the front in the early stages of the race. At night, he and his teammates – Mathieu Jaminet from France and Dane Cameron from the United States – even took the lead. Tandy, winner of the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans at the wheel of the Porsche 919 Hybrid, however, skidded, costing him three laps. On Sunday morning, the crew resumed the attack. Thanks to the best lap times, the Porsche 963 once again lined up with the leaders – but any hope of victory was dashed by a gearbox problem. Suddenly, the car shared by the trio Tandy, Jaminet and Cameron had to abandon the competition. The twin car driven by Matt Campbell (Australia), Felipe Nasr (Brazil) and Michael Christensen (Denmark) finished seventh in the GTP class.
Thomas Laudenbach. Vice President Porsche Motorsport
“We are disappointed, there is no doubt.After just over five hours, car number 7 was no longer in contention for victory due to a problem with the high voltage system. Later, in our machine number 6, there was a breakdown in the drive unit. We encountered some problems, but at the same time we were able to learn a lot. The good thing is that we know where we are and what we need to work on. Now we will systematically prepare for the next race in March at Sebring“.
Urs Kuratle, Plant Manager Porsche Motorsport LMDh.
“First, congratulations to Acura for winning the first race of the new GTP era. We were hoping for more, mainly because we were able to establish a fantastic pace at times. I would like to thank Multimatic and all the other partners. It’s been a long road for all of us and we’re finally at the gates of the GTP class. Compared to other weekends, this one was full of damage. Thank you to my colleagues in Weissach and those at the Mooresville and Mannheim bases for their tireless work. We deserved a better result, but we also learned a lot, which we will now use systematically“.
The new Porsche 911 GT3 R in the GT categories with no real chance of triumph
Customer teams who have entered the new Porsche 911 GT3 R in the GTD-Pro class have already realized the predicament during practice and qualifying. In the GT categories, where different manufacturers compete with vehicles with different concepts, the so-called Balance of Performance (BoP). At the season opener at Daytona, however, series governing body IMSA failed to achieve the desired effect: Weissach’s new GT3 machines were so severely limited in engine power that the seven cars competing in both GTD categories had virtually no chance of success.
The Pfaff Motorsports team, defending the GTD-Pro title, finished in fifth place after a valiant effort from works driver Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium), as well as Klaus Bachler (Austria) and Patrick Pilet (France). An identical car in MDK Motorsports colors took sixth place. The highest placed Porsche in the GTD class was owned by the Wright Motorsports team (number 16) and finished the race in ninth position.
“Due to the classification of our Porsche 911 GT3 R, we had a difficult starting position. Despite this, all the teams fought with all their might and therefore deserve the utmost respect. Pfaff Motorsports finished fifth in the GTD-Pro class, just one lap behind the winner – hats off! It is the most valuable morale in sport. Even though sometimes we can’t be ahead, we still don’t give up; instead we fight to the end, score points and continue in the next races“.
Sebastian Golz, Porsche 911 GT3 R project manager.
“It’s been a turbulent start to the season and we would have preferred it to end with another result. Everyone tried to make the best of the situation. Of the seven cars competing for our customers, six crossed the finish line. In this regard, the new 911 GT3 R made a great debut. The result is secondary this weekend, we could only coordinate the damage. Now we focus on the future. Sebring will be a challenge. We will use all the experience we gained with the new car at Daytona and work with the organizer on an updated BoP.“.
The second round of the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship will take place on March 18 in Sebring (USA). The day before, the Porsche 963 will make its FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) debut at the same location.
Drivers’ comments on the race
Nick Tandy (Porsche 963 #6)
“This race on the one hand was fantastic, on the other hand it toughened us up incredibly. There were many positives and as many negatives. We had a strong pace, but we still have a lot of work to do. But that’s pretty normal for a new machine in a new class, with a new team and new riders. Nevertheless, we mostly feel disappointment now and need to focus on the positives as soon as possible – and there are a lot of them!“.
Felipe Nasr (Porsche 963 #7):
“Unfortunately, we struggled with flaws – first the battery, then the cooling system. The engine overheated and we had to drive back to the garage. We learned a lot from this race. Now we will definitely progress and gain valuable experiences. The team never gave up and neither did the drivers. But that just wasn’t enough to pull it off this time. I hope the next one will be better!“.
Klaus Bachler (Porsche 911 GT3 R n°9)
“If someone had told us before the race that despite the current BoP standings, we would finish fifth in the GTD-Pro class, I would have thought that was really good. The team did a great job, we did almost as many laps as the leading cars at the finish. From this point of view, we can be very satisfied with the result. It was my first race with Pfaff Motorsports and I had a lot to learn. We start the season with a good number of points. I’m sure at Sebring we can fight for a class win again“.
Jan Heylen (Porsche 911 GT3 R #16)
“I am very proud of the Wright Motorsports team and all that we have accomplished. The 24 hour race was very long for us, especially since we had no chance of winning. Despite this, we placed in the top ten of our class and scored key points in the championship. Hope things go better for us at Sebring“.
1. Blomqvist/Braun/Castroneves/Pagenaud (UK/US/Brazil/France), Acura ARX-06 #60, 783 laps
2. Taylor/Albuquerque/Deletraz/Hartley (USA/Portugal/Switzerland/New Zealand), Acura ARX-06 #10, 783 laps
3. Bourdais/van der Zande/Dixon (France/Netherlands/New Zealand), Cadillac V-LMDh #01, 783 laps
7. Campbell/Nasr/Christensen (Australia/Brazil/Denmark), #7 Porsche 963, 749 laps
not finished: Tandy/Jaminet/Cameron (UK/France/USA), #6 Porsche 963, 700 laps
1. MacNeil/Juncadella/Gounon/Engel (USA/Spain/Belgium/Germany), Mercedes-AMG GT3 #79, 729 laps
2. Garcia/Taylor/Milner (Spain/US/US), Corvette C8.R GTD #3, 729 laps
3. Hawksworth/Barnicoat/Conway (UK/UK/UK), Lexus RC F GT3 #14, 729 laps
5. Bachler/Pilet/Vanthoor (Austria/France/Belgium), #9 Porsche 911 GT3 R, 728 laps
6. Kvamme/Estep/Magnussen/Hart (US/US/DK/US), Porsche 911 GT3 R n°53, 717 laps
1. De Angelis/Sörensen/James/Turner (Canada/Denmark/US/UK), #27 Aston Martin Vantage GT3, 729 laps
2. Potter/Lally/Pumpelly/Thiim (US/US/US/Denmark), Aston Martin Vantage GT3 #44, 729 laps
3. Iribe/Schandorff/Millroy/Kirchhöfer (USA/Denmark/UK/Switzerland), McLaren 720S GT3 #70, 729 laps
9. Hardwick/Heylen/Robichon/Olsen (USA/Belgium/Canada/Norway), #16 Porsche 911 GT3 R, 723 laps
11. Brynjolfsson/Hindman/Root/Estre (US/US/US/France), Porsche 911 GT3 R n°77, 719 laps
14. Hyett/Jeannette/Priaulx/Tincknell (US/US/UK/UK), #80 Porsche 911 GT3 R, 710 laps
16. Metni/van Berlo/Evans/Andlauer (USA/Netherlands/New Zealand/France), #91 Porsche 911 GT3 R, 699 laps
not finished: Brule/Udell/Davis/Bleekemolen (US/US/US/Netherlands), #92 Porsche 911 GT3 R, 278 laps
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