Today Porsche wins 2018 Petit Le Mans, the final round of the 2018 IMSA Weathertech SportsCar Championship.  In Braselton, Georgia, at famed Road Atlanta, the Porsche GT Team emerged victorious at the end of a grueling 10-hour endurance marathon.

Porsche wins 2018 Petit Le Mans: This photo depicts the wall-to-wall throng, a sea of humanity, crowded together on the grid at the 2018 Petit Le Mans. Credit: Porsche AGPorsche Finishes First in GTLM Class at the 2018 Motul Petit Le Mans

The No. 911 crossed the finish line first in class at the checkers to win the 2018 Motul Petit Le Mans.  This clinched the Porsche GT Team’s third GTLM class win of the season.

Porsche wins 2018 Petit Le Mans: pictured here are the ecstatic Makowiecki, Tandy and Pilet celebrating at the top of 2018 Petit Le Mans podium, with first-place trophies in hand, held high above their heads. Credit: Porsche AG
Makowiecki, Tandy and Pilet (l-r) at the top of the 2018 Petit Le Mans podium. Credit: Porsche AG

Piloted by  Frédéric Makowiecki (France), Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and Patrick Pilet (France), the No. 911 510-hp Porsche 911 RSR began the race P5 in class.  Then to all Porschephiles’ delight, the No. 911 RSR methodically worked its way up through the field.

Although, No. 911’s steady advance was like swimming against the raging current of brutal competition in the GTLM class, both today as well as throughout the entire neck-and-neck season.  This was fierce determination to just win, baby — in tandem with perfect team tactics.  Result:  A near-flawless race.

Porsche wins 2018 Petit Le Mans: Seen here at speed is the winning No. 911 on the Road Atlanta track curves. Credit: Porsche AG“It was a gripping race with highs and lows,” conceded Pascal Zurlinden, Director of GT Factory Motorsport.  “Minor errors on the racetrack cost us some time, but with perfect strategies and tire choices, we made it to the front of the field.

“After victories in Sebring and at Le Mans and now Petit Le Mans — the entire team simply did a perfect job,” Mr. Zurlinden continued, “and today we extended the contract with the squad for another three years. Now we’ll prepare for next season.”

Porsche wins 2018 Petit Le Mans: Posing here for a large group photo are the Porsche Motorsport GT Team drivers and crew with both 911 RSR cars in tribute Mobil 1 livery. Credit: Porsche AGThe No. 911 racecar was clad in legendary blue, red and orange Mobil 1 livery stripes (as was the sister No. 912 car).  This livery was chosen to evoke fond memories of the famed and fierce-looking 1998 911 GT1-98 from 20 years earlier.  We’re glad the result lived up to the nostalgic image.

So the third act of the 21st Don Panoz-originated Petit Le Mans cast the No. 911 in the role of grand-finale hero of this perennial epic.  That is when Makowiecki asserted Porsche’s dominance.  With about three hours left in the race’s countdown, Makowiecki scaled the podium’s precipice to a provisional P1 and never looked down from there.

Porsche wins 2018 Petit Le Mans: Here we're getting a glimpse of the frantic No. 911 driver change in the Road Atlanta pits. Credit: Porsche AGThen Tandy grabbed the baton for his anchor stint to glory — ultimately rocketing across the finish line to win his GTLM class, with a cozy 11.443-second margin down to the second step of the podium.

“What a crazy race!”  Nick Tandy called out.  “We were relegated from the front to the back and then came back to the front.  When you’re a lap down and still manage to win, it shows just how brilliantly the entire team worked.  Our focus was on ensuring that the car was still fast in cool temperatures at the end.  And it worked perfectly.  And that was the key to victory.”

Porsche wins 2018 Petit Le Mans: Seen here is the jubilant, celebrating No. 911 victory team after winning the race. Credit: Porsche AGDr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Vice President of Motorsport and GT Cars, voiced his own excitement:  “Patrick laid the foundations for this success with a strong double stint.  Nick and Fred then brought it home… Petit Le Mans was a huge race.  This victory fits perfectly with the successes that came just in time for Porsche’s 70th anniversary.”

Porsche wins 2018 Petit Le Mans: Seen here from its right side is the No. 912 speeding down the track, with a blurry German flag in f.g. Credit: Porsche AGUnfortunately, the No. 912 sister car wasn’t as lucky.

Shared by Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium), Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and newcomer Mathieu Jaminet (France), the No. 912 racecar commenced the race as a serious contender for victory across the first 71 laps.

However, an early puncture threw a monkey wrench in it all.  Then a drive-through penalty sounded the death knell, tumbling the trio headlong down the field.  The No. 912 racecar tried every angle.  All for naught.

That’s because the sickly relentless GTLM competition thwarted all noble attempts.  Despite this tenacious resistance, though, the No. 912 racecar persevered to finish only one minute behind the winning No. 911 sister car.

Kudos.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.

“We definitely had a winning car today.  That’s why it was extremely disappointing to receive a drive-through penalty,” vented Bamber, with some understandable emotion.  “It ruined our chances of winning.”

Porsche Finishes Just Shy of the Podium in GTD Class at the 2018 Motul Petit Le Mans

Meanwhile, Porsche in the GTD class experienced similarly mind-blowing melodramas.

Veteran sole-American Porsche Works driver — as well as all-around good guy and family man — Patrick Long (USA) fought the good fight in GTD alongside Porsche Selected Driver Christina Nielsen from Denmark and Germany’s Robert Renauer.

Porsche wins 2018 Petit Le Mans: Pictured here is a speedy driver change in No. 58's Road Atlanta pit box for the Wright Motorsports 911 GT3 R of Long, Nielsen, Renauer. Credit: Porsche AGNot unlike the Factory No. 912 team, the trio in their No. 58 Wright Motorsports 500-hp Porsche 911 GT3 R also suffered a drive-through penalty.  It too spelled curtains for the team, which finished a hair off the podium in fourth place.

Porsche wins 2018 Petit Le Mans: Seen here is a photograph of the black-and-red No. 73 Park Place car, viewed from its left side, on the Road Atlanta track during the 2018 Petit Le Mans. Credit: Porsche AGBut the worst luck of all befell the No. 73 GTD-class Porsche 911 GT3 R.  Fielded by Park Place Motorsports for the 2018 Petit Le Mans, the No. 73 car grudgingly retired early in the fray after only 122 laps.  Wolf Henzler (Germany) shared the grief with Americans Timothy Pappas and Spencer Pumpelly.

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Race result

GTLM class

  1. Tandy/Pilet/Makowiecki (GB/F/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 419 laps
  2. Milner/Gavin/Fässler (USA/GB/CH), Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, 419 laps
  3. Krohn/Edwards/Mostert (FIN/USA/AUS), BMW M8 GTE, 419 laps
  4. Sims/De Phillippi/Auberlen (GB/USA/USA), BMW M8 GTE, 419 laps
  5. Briscoe/Westbrook/Dixon (AUS/GB/USA), Ford GT, 419 laps
  6. Vanthoor/Bamber/Jaminet (B/NZ/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 419 laps
  7. Hand/Müller/Bourdais (USA/D/F), Ford GT, 418 laps
  8. Magnussen/Garcia/Fässler (DK/E/CH), Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, 417 laps
  9. Vilander/Molina/Bertolini (FIN/E/I), Ferrari 488 GTE, 416 laps

GTD class

  1. MacNeil/Serra/Jeannette (USA/BRA/USA), Ferrari 488 GT3, 407 laps
  2. Legge/Parente/Hindman (GB/P/USA), Acura NSX GT3, 407 laps
  3. Sellers/Snow/Lewis (USA/USA/USA), Lamborghini Huracan GT3, 406 laps
  4. Long/Nielsen/Renauer (USA/DK/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 406 laps
  5. Henzler/Pumpelly/Pappas (D/USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 122 laps

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