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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship

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Rain mayhem robs Porsche of first IMSA win of the season

A lap record in qualifying, pole position, and a commanding lead in the race: despite this, the dream of claiming the maiden victory for the latest generation of the Porsche 911 RSR in the IMSA SportsCar Championship at round four of this year’s North American series remains unfulfilled.

After a strong performance from the No.912 vehicle driven by Laurens Vanthoor and Earl Bamber, which culminated in a 20-second lead, torrential rain threw a spanner in the works about 50 minutes before the end of the 2:40-hour event. Bamber spun and slid from the track.

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At the wheel of the No.911 Porsche, Frédéric Makowiecki and Nick Tandy at one point advanced to first place in the chaotic weather conditions, however, when the race restarted behind the safety car the vehicle had to pit. In a last-ditch effort to fight for class victory from third place under difficult conditions, Tandy slid from the track in the rain with no visibility. He and Makowiecki finished on fourth, with the sister car on fifth.

Starting driver Vanthoor took up the race in the No.912 RSR from pole position and initially lost the lead to Jordan Taylor’s No.3 Corvette. On lap 15, Vanthoor reversed the order and quickly pulled clear of Taylor. After ten consistently fast laps, he handed the No.912 to Earl Bamber. The New Zealander extended the lead to a good 20 seconds and, thanks as well to late pit stops, seemed to be on track for a sure win.

Then, with less than an hour left on the clock, the forecast rain set in and turned into a downpour. Bamber was caught off guard by the sheer volume of water and spun into the gravel. While attempting to get out, the 911 RSR, missing a wing mirror but otherwise unscathed, lost two laps and ultimately crossed the finish line in fifth.

“We had two great cars today." said Bamber "With the 912 we opted for the right tires to win, but the message about the rain didn’t reach me. I made a mistake and flew off the track. Now we have to look ahead and earn as many points as possible at the next race.”

In the sister car, Frédéric Makowiecki had started the race from P6. The Frenchman also managed to conserve the tires of his 911 RSR from lap ten and quickly moved up the order to lie in third place. The No.911 car was the last in the GTLM class to pit for the first time after lap 28.

Nick Tandy took over driving duties and rejoined the race in position four. On lap 31, however, the Briton had to let John Edwards’ BMW pass. Tandy promptly turned from the hunted to the hunter, and was in hot pursuit when the sky opened up. Although the chaos had allowed the outright Le Mans winner of 2015 to move into the lead by the time the race was stopped, the No.3 Corvette and the No.24 BMW had already been shod with rain tires. After the restart behind the safety car, Tandy had to make a pit stop and fell back to third. In his final attempt to fulfil the dream of a class win during the remaining seven minutes, he hit the wall on the last lap. As a safety measure, he was taken to the medical center for a check.

“We had another race where with a bit more luck we could have had a good result." Tandy said "In the end the conditions were too bad to keep racing. You see this when multiple cars have no chance to even control themselves on the straights. We lost all grip and aquaplaned off the road at high speed. Luckily, I’m okay and I’m very thankful to the team at Porsche Motorsport for building such strong cars.“

Race results

08/03/20

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