The two Porsche 963 start from positions six and eight
Pfaff Motorsport’s Porsche 911 GT3 R on P3 in the GTD-Pro class
GTD qualifying red-flagged after accident with AO Racing’s 911
Shortest race of the season takes off on Saturday at 2:05 pm local time
The No. 6 Porsche 963 tackles round three of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship from the grid position six. During the qualifying for the Long Beach Grand Prix in California, works driver Nick Tandy from the UK turned his fastest lap in 1:11.406 minutes. His brand colleague Felipe Nasr from Brazil claimed P8 in the 20-minute hunt for top times on the city circuit close to Los Angeles. In the GTD-Pro class, the Sebring-winning squad Pfaff Motorsports secured a promising grid spot, planting its Porsche 911 GT3 R on third place.
In sunny conditions and cool temperatures of around 17 degrees Celsius, the Porsche Penske Motorsport works team struggled to get the tyres of both LMDh prototypes within the ideal operating window. This had already become evident in the morning’s practice session and again at noon. Despite a mammoth effort from the qualifying drivers Tandy and Nasr, the gap to the fastest vehicles in the GTP class was significant. Given the lack of overtaking opportunities on the narrow US street circuit, the grid positions play a major role.
“We’re disappointed – no question about it,” says Thomas Laudenbach, clearly stating his impressions of the qualifying. The Vice President of Porsche Motorsport continues: “We started the race weekend with high hopes. However, we already noticed in the practice sessions that it was very difficult to get the Michelin tyres up to temperature, especially the front tyres. Hopefully, our engineers manage to significantly improve the setup for race day. The Sebring class winners Pfaff Motorsports tackle the GTD-Pro class from position three. That’s a great place to start to give the Porsche 911 GT3 R the best chances in the race.”
“Obviously, that’s not the result we’d hoped for,” concludes Jonathan Diuguid. The Managing Director of Porsche Penske Motorsport adds: “We’ve been off the pace since the first free practice. We’ll continue to work tirelessly and systematically on possible improvements. Let’s see what race day brings. One thing is clear: we’re too far from the top and we need to find out exactly why.”
Best Porsche 911 GT3 R tackles the GTD-Pro category from position three
The qualifying for the two GTD classes was stopped early after an accident involving PJ Hyett at the wheel of AO Racing’s Porsche 911 GT3 R. Despite the heavy impact of the bright green 911 with its dinosaur livery, the American was uninjured. The vehicle with the nickname “Rexy”, however, sustained severe damages and is unable to contest the race. In the Pro class, Frenchman Patrick Pilet heads into the Pro class from P3 in Pfaff Motorsports’ No. 9 car. In the GTD class, the two entries from Kelly-Moss with Riley and the 911 GT3 R fielded by Wright Motorsports start from positions 11, 14 and 15 respectively.
The 100-minute sprint race on the spectacular street course along the Pacific Coast gets underway on Saturday at 2:05 pm local time (11:05 pm CEST). Outside the USA and Canada, the entire race can be viewed live on the website https://imsa.com/tv.
Drivers’ comments after the qualifying Nick Tandy (Porsche 963 #6): “Over a flying lap, we’re too far off the competition. It’s always tricky when a team arrives at such a special track with a completely new car. Our Porsche 963 feels really good and it’s great fun racing through the streets of Long Beach. But the others are simply faster. Qualifying and racing are two different things. I’m sure the team will find some solutions by Saturday. I believe we’ll be closer over the distance.”
Felipe Nasr (Porsche 963 #7): “The qualifying was difficult for us. We simply couldn’t build up sufficient speed. We managed to make some progress during the practice sessions but there’s still a long way to go to catch up to the frontrunners. We know where there’s still room to improve. I hope the engineers come up with a good solution for this. In tomorrow’s race, we are determined to fight our way forward as far as possible. I hope we can achieve a top 3 result.”
Patrick Pilet (Porsche 911 GT3 R #9): “Our Porsche felt great in the first free practice but we still made some tweaks for the second session and learned a lot in the process. The team found an ideal solution: Our 911 was very strong in qualifying. On my first fast laps, I had to keep slowing down because of the yellow flags so that no one was endangered. My final lap was great again. I reached the eighth turn without any mistakes and really fast. And again, the yellow flags were there – what a shame! More would definitely have been possible. The car drives beautifully. I think our chances on race day look very good.”