Team Norway-fører Dennis Olsen er klar for helgens klassiske 24-timersløp på Daytona, som også er åpningsløpet i det amerikanske IMSA-mesterskapet. Les mer i denne pressemeldingen på engelsk.
Porsche customer teams head to the opening round of the 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with big ambitions. A total of seven Porsche 911 GT3 R will line up on the grid to contest the tradition-steeped 24 Hours of Daytona.
At the official test runs, the so-called “Roar Before the 24” last weekend, the teams and Porsche engineers came up with a good setup and achieved promising grid positions for the 500+PS vehicles. Consequently, expectations are high for the endurance classic in the US state of Florida.
New class structure shines the spotlight on the Porsche 911 GT3 R
The organisers of the North American sports car racing series have established a new class structure for the 2022 season. The former GTLM category, in which the Porsche 911 RSR has harvested exceptional successes in recent years, has been replaced by the new GTD-Pro class. This category is reserved for GT3 vehicles built to FIA GT3 technical regulations – which includes the Porsche 911 GT3 R. In this class, only professional racing drivers are eligible to share a car. The GTD class regulations, however, remain unchanged: at each race, the driver crew must include at least one amateur driver – and two at the 24 Hours of Daytona. The Canadian customer squad Pfaff Motorsports won this class in 2021 and will now tackle the GTD-Pro category.
The race and the racetrack
The Daytona International Speedway in Florida, which opened in 1959, distinguishes itself from other tracks most notably by its steeply banked turns. The slope incline reaches up to 31 degrees in the oval passages of the 5.73-kilometre racetrack. This requires a special vehicle setup. Porsche is by far the most successful manufacturer at Daytona. The Stuttgart automobile manufacturer has achieved 18 overall wins as a constructor and four as an engine partner, with a further 78 class wins rounding off this success record. The classic event has been contested on the combination of the tri-oval and the infield road course since 1966.
“A total of 35 GT cars will race at Daytona. That’s an impressive number,” explains Sebastian Golz, Project Manager Porsche 911 GT3 R. “It’ll be exciting to see how the new regulations and classes evolve. With our seven customer teams and vehicles, we’ve been able to establish really strong combinations in the GTD-Pro and GTD classes. The basic speed and the double podium result in the qualifying race underline that we have created a solid basis at the ‘Roar Before the 24’, which we’ll now continue to build on.”
“Dealing with tyre pressure will be new and interesting,” adds Golz, with regard to the changed regulations for the 2022 season. “The minimum pressure that must be adhered to throws a new challenge at the engineers. The lower the tyre pressure, the better the performance. However, if it falls below the specified limit, you get a penalty. So, in the race, we have to make sure we drive as close to the specified limit as possible at all times. It’s a very thin line between top performance and a penalty.”
Two Porsche customer teams experienced this first-hand at the “Roar Before the 24”. As part of the test runs last weekend, a 100-minute qualifying race was held, which determined the grid positions for the 24-hour race. While the customer squads put in strong performances, WeatherTech Racing’s tyre pressure was too low and it cost the squad the second place. A 40-second penalty relegated the team down to fourth place. As a result, Pfaff Motorsports was shuffled one position up the grid and now starts from the first grid row of the GTD-Pro class. In the GTD category, Wright Motorsports concluded the qualifying race on third but subsequently lost this result when the pressure in the Michelin tyres was found to be too low. The team from the US state of Ohio now takes up the 24-hour race from P11.
The customer teams and drivers
In the new GTD-Pro class, the customer teams Pfaff Motorsports and WeatherTech Racing field one Porsche 911 GT3 R each for the whole 2022 season. The Asian KCMG squad has entered one 500+PS vehicle from Weissach exclusively in the 24 Hours of Daytona. Works driver Laurens Vanthoor from Belgium joins forces with Frenchman Patrick Pilet, Norway’s Dennis Olsen and Alexandre Imperatori from Switzerland in the No. 2 car for the team from Hong Kong. Three works drivers compete for Pfaff Motorsports: Matt Campbell from Australia, Mathieu Jaminet from France and Felipe Nasr from Brazil. For WeatherTech Racing, the Italian Matteo Cairoli, Julien Andlauer from France and Belgium’s Alessio Picariello share driving duties with the American amateur racer Cooper MacNeil.
Four customer teams contest the GTD category. Porsche 911 GT3 R racing cars which comply with the GT3 regulations are also fielded in this class. Wright Motorsports makes a bid for the class win with the Austrian works driver Richard Lietz. In 2021, the team won the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup, which includes the endurance classics in Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and the “Petit Le Mans” on the Road Atlanta circuit. Klaus Bachler from Austria competes for GMG Racing with the seasoned Dutch driver Jeroen Bleekemolen and two American amateur drivers. Katherine Legge from Great Britain again takes on the challenge for the Hardpoint crew. The former DTM driver shares the cockpit with three ambitious part-time racing drivers. Four American amateur racers contest the event for TGM.