The Porsche Works 911 RSR last race ever took place at Road Atlanta today, Saturday, October 1, 2016.  The race in question was the 19th Annual Petit Le Mans.  It was the season’s championship finale of the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series.

Porsche Works 911 RSR Last Race Ever:  Bittersweet Swan Song

In its past, the Porsche Works 911 RSR at the very peak of its successes enjoyed a fantastic overall victory at the 2015 Petit Le Mans.  This yielded Porsche three IMSA championship titles – top manufacturer, top drivers and top team.

Yes, you’re reading that right:  OVERALL.

At that time, the Porsche North America Works team consisting of Le Mans 24 overall co-winner Nick Tandy (in a 919) and Patrick Pilet drove the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR to 2015’s overall victory at Petit Le Mans.

Pilet went on at the end of that extraordinary season to win the drivers’ championship in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class.

Is such a seemingly impossible GT overall win unprecedented?  Nope.

The last time it happened was in 2003.  That year team owner Kevin Buckler’s TRG Porsche 911 GT3 RS won overall at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Click here to check out the new 2017 Porsche GT-class racecar.

Last Petit Le Mans for No. 912 and No. 911 Porsche Works 911 RSR

Porsche No. 912 Results

Today, however, the No. 912 Porsche Works 911 RSR closed the curtains on its Works career without a podium.  It landed 2 spots shy of that podium with a fifth-place finish in its last race ever.

The faster of the two Works Porsches, the No. 912 Porsche was piloted by Earl Bamber (New Zealand), Michael Christensen (Denmark) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France).  They contested the race in the five-manufacturer GTLM (GT Le Mans) class during the Porsche Works 911 RSR swan song.

Porsche Works 911 RSR last race: Porsche No. 912 left-front on track - 2016 Petit Le Mans Road Atlanta. Credit: PAG
Credit: Porsche AG

“It was rather strange to race my 911 RSR for the last time,” lamented Bamber.  “At the same time, I’m looking forward to its successor.”

“Our strategy was good, but we were handicapped by several breakages,” Marco Ujhasi confessed, Overall Project Manager GT Works Motorsport.  “With our 912 car we were no longer in a position to close the gap afterwards.  And then the caution phase didn’t allow us a chance.”

Porsche No. 911 Results

The other Works team of Richard Lietz (Austria), Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and defending IMSA GT champion Patrick Pilet (France) drove the No. 911 sister Porsche 911 RSR.

These boys were even more unlucky.

With only about four hours left in the 10-hour Road Atlanta enduro classic, the No. 911 RSR sustained major damage.  An errant sports prototype unsuccessfully defied the laws of physics by trying to occupy the same space in place and time with the No. 911.

The avoidable collision by the BAR1 LMPC-class car, piloted by Johnny Mowlem, shunted the Tandy-driven No. 911 out of its very last race from its third-place spot while the RSR was completing its 223 laps on the storied 2.54-mile Braselton, Georgia, road course.  This only makes the fact that this is the Porsche Works 911 RSR last race all the more unpleasant.

Porsche Works 911 RSR last race: Porsche No. 911 left-side on track - 2016 Petit Le Mans Road Atlanta. Credit: PAG.
Credit: Porsche AG

“We experienced an exciting race today,” said Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport.  “It’s a shame that we lost our number 911 contender through no fault of our own.  But the team fought hard and didn’t waste any time in getting the car back on its wheels so that it could at least drive the last two laps.”

Ujhasi chimed in:  “The accident with the 911 car, which left the car badly damaged, was annoying.  But it is simply part of the sporting spirit to repair the car so that it can at least go out and turn the last few laps.”

“The wrong decision of another driver cost us a possible top result today,” Nick Tandy muttered, as if scratching his head in disbelief at the Mowlem maneuver.  Tactfully not naming names, however, Tandy ever the professional continued, “He [the BAR1 LMPC pilot] wanted to overtake at a place where you normally can’t overtake.  It took me completely by surprise.”

As indeed this is the Porsche Works 911 RSR last race, Makowiecki summed up the season rather ruefully yet pithily:  “That wasn’t exactly an ideal finale.  We’ve achieved quite a bit this year by scoring two wins and six podiums.  But all in all Petit Le Mans was symbolic for the whole season – we often couldn’t match the pace of the opposition.”

Porsche Works 911 RSR last race — Porsche 911 RSR Race History

Nonetheless, there’s no shame to be found in the racing career of the 470-hp Porsche 911 RSR, which is based on the seventh generation of the iconic 911 sports car.

Click here to view this RSR’s replacement, new for 2017

Throughout that fleeting-yet-robust career since debuting in 2013, the Porsche Works 911 RSR chalked up the following impressive triumphs:

  • 73 races, all told  — in the IMSA SportsCar Championship in the USA and Canada, the WEC Sports Car World Endurance Championship and the European Le Mans Series
  • 21 victories
  • 8 championship titles

Despite this being the Porsche Works 911 RSR last race, many of those 21 victories were hard-fought and won during some of the greatest classic long-distance endurance slugfests:

  • Daytona
  • Le Mans
  • Petit Le Mans
  • Sebring
  • Watkins Glen

Ah, but lucky for all of us in the United States of America (traditionally the biggest regional sales market in the world for Porsche since the car-maker’s early days), the successor to the 911 RSR will debut before us at that Florida classic, the 24 Hours of Daytona, on January 28 & 29, 2017.

Porsche Works 911 RSR last race: Porsche No. 73 left-rear on track - 2016 Petit Le Mans Road Atlanta. Credit: PAG
Credit: Porsche AG

GTD Class:  No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R Earns Impressive Runner-Up Step on Podium

The Porsche customer teams in the GTD (GT Daytona) class fared slightly better than the GTLM Porsche Works 911 RSR.  For the record, the customer teams run the 500-hp Porsche 911 GT3 R in the class.

Always-gracious-to-his-fans veteran Porsche Factory driver Jörg Bergmeister (Germany) teamed with American drivers Patrick Lindsey and Matthew McMurry in the Park Place Motorsports No. 73 Porsche 911 GT3 R.

The No. 73 car bested the Works drivers by wresting a second-place podium finish in their GTD class.  This impressive result comes on the heels of the team’s first win at Laguna Seca in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

“We are thrilled for our customer team, Park Place Motorsports, who took up the race with their 911 GT3 R from second on the grid and turned it into a second place on the podium after a tough fight,” beamed Dr. Walliser.

Bergmeister, McMurry & Lindsey on podium - 2016 Petit Le Mans Road Atlanta. Credit: PAG.
Bergmeister, McMurry and Lindsey (l-r) on second step of the GT Daytona podium. Credit: Porsche AG

Jörg Bergmeister tied it all up in a nice succinct season-finale bow:  “It’s fantastic, of course, to climb the podium again at the last race of the season.  Second place was certainly a little lucky.  But by working hard, the team has earned this success to finish the season.  Again this time, they didn’t give up when we were behind, but fought with us right to the very end to achieve this good result.”

All in all, this was the sixth podium finish since the No. 73 Park Place Porsche debuted this season.

GTLM and GTD Race Results

GTLM Class

  1.  Fisichella / Vilander / Calado (I/SF/GB), Ferrari 488 GTE, 398 laps
  2.  Hand /Müller / Bourdais (USA/D/F), Ford GT, 398
  3.  Gavin / Milner / Fässler (GB/USA/CH), Chevrolet Corvette, 398
  4.  Garcia / Magnussen / Rockenfeller (E/DK/D), Chevrolet Corvette, 397
  5.  Bamber / Makowiecki / Christensen (NZ/F/DK), Porsche 911 RSR, 395
  6.  Edwards / Luhr / Wittmer (USA/D/CAN), BMW M6, 391
  7.  Briscoe / Westbrook / Dixon (AUS/GB/NZ), Ford GT, 372
  8.  Serra /Pier Guidi / Bertolini (BRA/I/I), Ferrari 488 GTE, + 350
  9.  Auberlen / Werner / Farfus (USA/D/BRA), BMW M6, 317
  10.  Pilet / Tandy / Lietz (F/GB/A), Porsche 911 RSR, 229

GTD Class

  1.  Keating / Bleekemolen / Miller (USA/NL/USA), Dodge Viper, 385 laps
  2.  Bergmeister / Lindsey / McMurry (D/USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 384
  3.  Balzan / Nielsen / Segal (I/DK/USA), Ferrari 488, 384
  4.  Marsal / Palttala / Lawrence (USA/SF/USA), BMW M6, 384
  5.  Snow / Sellers / Miller (USA/USA/USA), Lamborghini GT3, 383
  6.  Aschenbach / Bell / v. Moltke (USA/USA/USA), Audi R8, 383
  7.  Riberas / Farnbacher / James (E/D/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 366

Final GTLM Results after 11 Races

Driver

  1.  Millner, Gavin, Corvette, 345 points
  2.  Briscoe, Westbrook, Ford, 328
  3.  Garcia, Magnussen, Chevrolet, 319
  4.  Bamber, Makowiecki, Porsche, 313
  5.  Fisichella, Vilander, Ferrari, 305
  6.  Hand, Müller, Ford, 301
  7.  Auberlen, Werner, BMW, 298
  8.  Pilet, Tandy, Porsche, 285
  9.  Edwards, Luhr, BMW, 267

Manufacturer

  1.  Chevrolet, 359 points
  2.  Ford, 341
  3.  Porsche, 330
  4.  Ferrari, 317
  5.  BMW, 314

Teams

  1.  No. 4 Corvette Racing, 345 points
  2.  No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, 328
  3.  No. 3 Corvette Racing, 319
  4.  No. 912 Porsche North America, 313
  5.  No. 62 Risi Competizione, 305
  6.  No. 25 BMW Team RLL, 301 & No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, 301
  7.  No. 911 Porsche North America, 285
  8.  No. 100 BMW Team RLL, 267
  9.  No. 68 Scuderia Corsa, 164

The first race of the 2017 IMSA SportsCar Championship will be contested on January 28 & 29, 2017, at the Daytona 24-Hour classic in Daytona, Florida, USA.