Porsche put a punctuation mark on a successful two days of TUDOR United SportsCar Championship testing, topping the GT Le Mans (GTLM) charts in all four sessions and the GT Daytona (GTD) charts on Friday at Sebring International Raceway.
Each of Porsche North America’s two Porsche 911 RSRs led two sessions with Patrick Pilet driving the No. 911 entry he shares with co-drivers Nick Tandy and Richard Lietz to the fastest lap in class with a time of 1:59.395 (112.769 mph) in the final 45 minutes of Friday’s afternoon session. The two-day winter test is in preparation for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida on Saturday, March 15, the second round of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.
“We had a clear set of objectives entering the test,” said Owen Hayes, Porsche Motorsport North America director of operations. “While finding speed is always very nice, our main goal was to test the cars at one of, if not the, most physically demanding race courses in the world. To be able to work through our checklist of items to test without any major issues with either of the Porsche North America 911 RSRs was very encouraging.”
The clean sweep of testing adds to an already successful start to the 2014 TUDOR Championship season for Porsche after Tandy, Lietz and Pilet combined to drive the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR to victory in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona.
The Porsche North America No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR co-driven by Patrick Long, Michael Christensen and Joerg Bergmeister finished the test second in GTLM, with Bergmeister turning a lap of 1:59.867 (112.324 mph), also in the final session. The No. 93 SRT Motorsports SRT Viper GTS-R of Marc Goossens, Jonathan Bomarito and Jeroen Bleekemolen was third at 2:00.496 (111.738 mph).
Kevin Estre showed the way for Porsche in GTD, setting the fastest time in the No. 73 Porsche 911 GT America of Park Place Motorsports that he shares with Patrick Lindsey. His lap of 2:04.289 (108.328 mph) was a shade quicker than the 2:04.359 (108.267 mph) set in the final session by the No. 22 Porsche 911 GT America of Alex Job Racing shared by Cooper MacNeil, Leh Keen and Philipp Frommenwiler. Turner Motorsport rounded out the top three in GTD with Dane Cameron driving the No. 94 BMW Z4 he shares with co-drivers Paul Dalla Lana and Markus Palttala to a lap of 2:04.487 (108.156 mph).
“Sebring suits our Porsche a bit better than Daytona,” said Estre. “We found a good setup at this test, and I feel we’re in good shape for the race. We gave it our all out there. When we return, we’ll see if the other teams were holding back anything.”
• Team Falken Tire ran its new No. 17 Porsche 911 RSR for Wolf Henzler, Bryan Sellers and Marco Holzer. With the car not ready for the Rolex 24, the team sent several crewmen to Germany to help with final preparations. “Just when you think that you can’t get any more from the Porsche 911, Porsche takes it to another level,” said team manager Derrick Walker. “This is a sweet car. You can tell Porsche paid a lot of attention to details, working real hard to get a more refined car.”
• Matteo Malucelli, on track for the first time since an incident involving he and Memo Gidley in the Rolex 24, was seventh-fastest in Thursday’s session, running 2:00.913 (111.353 mph) in the No. 57 Ferrari F458 Italia of Krohn Racing co-driven by Nic Jonsson. Risi Competizione partnered with Krohn Racing at the test while its Ferrari is being repaired from the Daytona incident.
• Rum Bum Racing debuted in TUDOR Championship competition, partnering with Snow Racing to field a Porsche 911 GT America for Matt Plumb, Madison Snow and Jan Heylen. It’s the second start for the team in the top level of GT competition after finishing seventh in the 2013 Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Photo: Marcel ten Caat