It’s back to the track for Porsche. The start of the new IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season is about to get underway. The first race of the year marks Porsche’s double debut at the 54th running of the 24 Hours of Daytona on January 30 and 31, 2016.
Second only to Le Mans, the Florida sports-car classic is the most celebrated long-distance races in all of international motor racing. Porsche holds the record for the most manufacturers’ wins in the history of this prestigious race — an unprecedented 22 overall triumphs and 76 class victories.
Porsche takes up the challenge to notch up more class wins by running the new 911 RSR and new 911 GT3 R both for the first time at the Daytona International Speedway. While the Porsche North America works team contests the 911 RSR in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class, customer/privateer teams campaign the all-new 911 GT3 R in the GT Daytona (GTD) class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Porsche 911 RSR
The Porsche 911 RSR in its new Weissach livery has undergone several updates for this new season, particularly to the aerodynamics. The rear diffuser, for example, is now considerably larger. The position of the rear wing was moved further to the rear. In addition, the 470-hp 911 RSR, which has been developed on the basis of the 7th generation of the iconic 911 sports car, received a modified front spoiler lip as well as wider side sills.
“With the 911 RSR, on which we’ve made aerodynamic improvements to fit the new regulations,” says Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport, “we aim to defend the IMSA championship title in the GTLM class that we won last year, and at Daytona we want to perform much better than we did in 2015.”
“The fact that we’re fielding the new 911 RSR at Daytona for the first time at this very demanding race poses an even greater challenge for us, “adds Marco Ujhasi, Overall Project Leader GT Works Motorsport. “This makes it all the more important for the drivers and teams to quickly find their rhythm and to work together optimally over the 24-hour duration. This worked so well during our [ROAR] preparations that we’re feeling very confident for the race.”
“It’s a great feeling to start the season as the title defenders,” adds reigning IMSA GT Champion Patrick Pilet (France) (911 RSR, No. 911). But that doesn’t make the task with the new 911 RSR easier. Daytona poses a very special challenge; it’s somewhat of a yardstick for the rest of the season. Last year we experienced a lot of bad luck. This time I hope we can fight for victory to the finish.”
Porsche 911 GT3 R
Also based on the latest 911 chassis, the all-new 911 GT3 R will be campaigned by Porsche customer teams. The new racecar was tested at Daytona for the first time with the ultra-modern four-liter flat-six engine with direct fuel injection. Based on the production 911 GT3 RS sports car, the Weissach-designed 500-hp racing car was conceived and manufactured for FIA homologated GT3 race series worldwide.
“With the new 911 GT3 R, our customer teams have prepared very well for the start of the season at Daytona,” says Sascha Pilz, Manager GT Customer Racing. “We’ve received a great deal of positive feedback and at the Daytona tests we saw that they familiarized themselves quickly and effectively with the new car.”
“This race will definitely be an interesting experience. The new 911 GT3 R is a great racing car for customers,” concurs factory driver Wolf Henzler (Germany) (911 GT3 R, No. 23). “Its grip level is amazing and the car stays nice and stable even over the bumps and curbs. This is definitely a major success for the engineers at Weissach.”
“It’s been some years since I drove a GTD car at Daytona,” adds factory pilot Jörg Bergmeister (Germany) (911 GT3 R, No. 73). “But the new 911 GT3 R is a lot of fun. Daytona is a great start to the season. I’ve won there three times, and every year I can’t wait to contest this race.”
Sole American factory driver Patrick Long (911 GT3 R, No. 540) concludes, “The car performed well in tests with its good aerodynamics. It’s great on the straights and under braking. That’s very important at Daytona.”
Porsche Glory at Daytona
Porsche enjoyed its first of 22 outright victories in 1968 when Vic Elford, Hans Herrmann, Jochen Neerpasch, Jo Siffert and Rolf Stommelen piloted their Porsche 907 to the top of the podium. Overall victory was most recently garnered in 2010 by Joao Barbosa, Terry Borcheller, Ryan Dalziel and Mike Rockenfeller in their Porsche-Riley.
Porsche has earned a record 76 wins in the fiercely competitive GT classes. The most recent podium-topping achievement occurred in 2014 as Richard Lietz, Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy captured GTLM-class honors.
Coverage of the 2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona
The Rolex 24 at Daytona starts on Saturday, January 30, at 2:40 p.m. local time (20:40 hours CET). The sports-car marathon can be seen alternately on Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2 and at imsa.com. Complete entry lists, exact television-broadcast times, the blow-by-blow event schedule and ticket info can also be found at imsa.com.
The 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Race Schedule
Jan. 30 & 31 – Daytona International Speedway, Daytona, Florida *
Mar. 19 – Sebring International Raceway, Sebring, Florida *
Apr. 16 – Long Beach Street Circuit, Long Beach, California
May 1 – Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Monterey, California
Jun. 4 – Detroit Belle Isle, Detroit, Michigan (only GTD & Prototye classes)
Jul. 3 – Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen, New York *
Jul. 10 – Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Bowmanville, Ontario
Jul. 23 – Lime Rock Park, Lime Rock/Connecticut (only GTD & Prototye classes)
Aug. 7 – Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
Aug. 28 – Virginia International Raceway, Danville, Virginia
Sep. 17 – Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas
Oct. 1 – Petit Le Mans, Road Atlanta, Braselton, Georgia *
* These races count towards the North American Endurance Cup.