Dirk Werner, Matt Campbell and Dennis Olsen clinched victory in the opening round of the 2019 Intercontinental GT Challenge at the twelve-hour race in Bathurst (Australia) on the spectacular Mount Panorama racetrack. While neither of the two works-supported Porsche 911 GT3 Rs could repeat the result this last weekend in Round 2 at Laguna Seca, one of the new cars did finish on the podium.
Park Place Motorsports fielded the #911 Porsche 911 GT3 R, a new version of the stalwart GT racer from Stuttgart. In the cockpit of the #911 Park Place Motorsports car were Romain Dumas, Sven Müller and Mathieu Jaminet, while Dirk Werner, Matt Campbell and Dennis Olsen shared the wheel of the #912 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, who were the winners in Bathurst.
In qualifying at Laguna Seca, Matt Campbell (#912) posted the fifth quickest time in the pole shootout while Mathieu Jaminet in the identical (#911) secured eighth place. At the end of the 15-minute shootout, Campbell was a mere two-tenths of a second shy of securing a spot on the front row of the grid. In the morning qualifying session, Mathieu Jaminet posted the fastest lap time of the entire field, but he was unable to capitalise on this in the shootout.
Facing the GT3 cars from seven other manufacturers, the new Porsche 911 GT3 R proved to have the most consistent pace over the distance, however the drivers were unable to fully use this advantage due to the lack of overtaking opportunities. The No. 911 car moved into the lead for the first time after around three hours of racing and the #911 Porsche even looked on course for a win, but after the pit stops it was often held up over long stretches by slower cars. As a result, this prevented the final driver Sven Müller from fighting for overall victory.
Bad luck struck the Bathurst winners, as around the halfway point in the race, Dirk Werner pulled into the pits with a defective gearshift component. Until then, Werner had led the field over many laps, but as a result of this faulty component, the #912 Porsche was forced to retire early. Over the entire eight hours of the race, there were no incidents, no caution phases and not one safety car phase.
Patrick Lindsey (team owner Park Place Motorsports) said after the race, “From unloading the vehicles at the track to the chequered flag, our team did a super clean job. The drivers drove an immaculate and impressive race. We absolutely deserve this podium result. The collaboration with Wright Motorsports worked brilliantly, and this synergy resulted in two very strong cars in the race. For this reason, I’m very sorry that the number 912 car had to retire early.”
From the driver’s seat, Romain Dumas (#911) had this to say, “A podium spot is really good, but more would have been possible. It was a tough fight over the distance and we weren’t far off a win.”
John Wright (team boss Wright Motorsports) gave this response, “The combination of the two American customer squads, Park Place Motorsports and Wright Motorsports, worked excellently. The result of this intensive and open cooperation was very obvious in the pace of the two Porsche 911 GT3 R at Laguna Seca. Of course, we’re disappointed that the race ended early for us. We would definitely have had a good chance of winning.”
Following their early retirement, Dirk Werner (#912) said, “It’s really disappointing. We’d fallen behind at the beginning and had to work our way up through the field and I was leading at the halfway mark when the defect occurred. Our car was very fast, the team worked perfectly. We could have controlled the race from the front, but unfortunately we couldn’t reap the rewards of our good work this time.”
2019 Intercontinental GT Challenge: Round 2 race result
|1||27||Ferrari 488 GT3||Foster/Slade/Molina||327|
|2||999||Mercedes AMG GT3||Marciello/Buhk/Götz||327|
|3||911||Porsche 911 GT3||Dumas/Müller/Jaminet||327|
|DNF||912||Porsche 911 GT3||Werner/Olsen/Campbell||168|
The 2019 Intercontinental GT Challenge calendar is made up of five endurance races on five continents. While the teams were only permitted to field 2018-spec GT3 cars at the season-opening round in Bathurst (Australia), the latest spec is sanctioned for the Laguna Seca (USA), Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium), Suzuka (Japan) races and the season finale in Kyalami (South Africa).
2019 Intercontinental GT Challenge driver standings (after two rounds)
2019 GT3 Manufacturer standings (after two rounds)
Round 3 of the 2019 Intercontinental GT Challenge will be the TOTAL 24 Hours of Spa, held on 25-28 July. Stay tuned as this exciting series hots up through the year.
Edited by: Glen Smale
Images by: Porsche Motorsport