Porsche Penske Motorsport celebrates hard-fought one-two result in Indianapolis
After the strong qualifying performance on Saturday which resulted in both cars locking out the front grid row, Porsche Penske Motorsport lived up to its role as the favourite in Indianapolis on race day. However, on the way to the Porsche 963's maiden one-two achievement, the team and drivers had to overcome several major hurdles. Fans were treated to some gripping race action right from the start: Mathieu Jaminet squeezed past polesitter Matt Campbell in the sister car while braking for the first corner. This order remained unchanged until the first pit stop after about 35 minutes. During a yellow phase, both Porsche 963 came into the pits for a service before lining up at the front behind the safety car.
A little later, the stewards made a surprising decision: Because Felipe Nasr and Nick Tandy as the drivers of the two Porsche 963 had not adhered to the requirements during the so-called “class split” (sorting of vehicle classes during a safety car phase), the race directors issued a directive for the third-placed Cadillac to move to the top – a puzzling decision that caused many onlookers to shake their heads, but one that ultimately did not change the race result.
At the restart, Nasr initially pushed past his brand colleague Tandy and then set his sights on the leading car. For almost 30 minutes, the No. 7 vehicle attacked on almost every lap and put the leader under immense pressure. With success: With 63 minutes remaining on the clock, a minor driving error opened the door for both Porsche 963 to overtake. After the last pit stop, Nasr made a small error at the wheel of the leading ca. 515 kW (700 PS) hybrid prototype. On cold tyres, the Brazilian slid onto the grass and lost critical seconds, which put the sister car in the lead. Safely at the front, Tandy brought home a one-two result for Porsche Penske Motorsport.
“What a perfect day for Porsche, our squad, the development team and our partners,” says Thomas Laudenbach, Vice President Porsche Motorsport. “The performance of our two Porsche 963 was fascinating. We witnessed some terrific motor racing at the highest level and the first one-two success for Porsche Penske Motorsport. And it couldn’t have come at a better time – before the season finale at Road Atlanta, Porsche has taken the lead in the manufacturers’ standings. Our title chances in the team and driver championships are also intact. Bring on the season finale – we’re ready!”
“First and second is the best result imaginable,” says Urs Kuratle, Director Factory Motorsport LMDh. “To be able to experience such a success in Indianapolis at Roger Penske’s home race with him in the pits is something very special. The race was virtually perfect for us. We briefly lost ground during the safety car phase, but countered this again on the track. We’re now leading in the manufacturers’ championship, and, in third place, we still have good chances of clinching the team and drivers’ championship. That was a wonderful weekend. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this.”
For the Porsche customer teams in the top GTP class, the race did not yield the hoped-for results. JDC-Miller MotorSports’ Porsche 963 finished the race in eighth place, with the identical car from Proton Competition in ninth.
GTD classes: Pfaff Motorsport loses winning chance at the startIn the GTD Pro category, the Porsche 911 GT3 R campaigned by Pfaff Motorsports headed into the race from pole position. However, the chances of another class victory were lost a few seconds after the start. Shortly before the start, the Austrian Klaus Bachler switched lines at the wheel of the No. 9 vehicle. For this rule violation, the race director imposed a drive-through penalty and Bachler was unable to recoup the time lost. The Austrian and his French teammate Patrick Pilet finished the “Battle on the Bricks” in fourth place. In the GTD class, the customer cars fielded by Wright Motorsports, AO Racing and Kellymoss with Riley finished in the midfield.
In the manufacturers' standings, Porsche heads to the final round of the season next month with an eight-point lead at the top. Tandy/Jaminet rank third place in the drivers’ championship just five points shy of the leaders. Round eleven of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will be contested on 14 October at Road Atlanta in the US state of Georgia. The ten-hour season finale is called “Petit Le Mans”.
Drivers’ comments on the race
Mathieu Jaminet (Porsche 963 #6): “As expected, the start was close and spectacular. I was trapped between our sister car and the Cadillac. I thought about what the best solution might be in this situation and I decided to brake a little earlier. That was exactly the right course of action. I took the corner well, the others didn't. During my stint, I managed to maintain the lead. At one point things got a little exciting, but ultimately, we finished in first and second. It’s a banner day for Porsche and the entire team.”
Nick Tandy (Porsche 963 #6): “The event in Indianapolis is an absolute highlight for the team and the entire Penske group of companies. To achieve a double victory at this venue, of all places, is simply unparalleled. The fact that we’re now leading the manufacturers' championship is equally as impressive. Thanks to our success, we still have realistic chances of winning the drivers’ championship title. I’m absolutely thrilled with this win – it was very emotional.”
Felipe Nasr (Porsche 963 #7): “A double success at the home race is of course an ideal result. I managed to manoeuvre our car into the lead, but later lost this position during the pit stop. In the last stint, I was no longer able to really attack and had to settle for second place. It was a lot of fun lapping the slower traffic. There was a lot of action out there – great for the spectators.”
Mike Rockenfeller (Porsche 963 #5): “We experienced a difficult weekend – from the first practice session to the finish line. During the race, an Acura shunted me onto the grass, which was completely incomprehensible and stupid. That cost me two positions. I’ve known the guy driving the car for a very long time. I’ll see you in Atlanta!”
Harry Tincknell (Porsche 963 #59): “I’m very proud of everyone in our team. After the two works cars, we had the third fastest vehicle in the competition. Our pace was impressive. During the race, the aim was to negotiate our way safely through the huge field. I love that! Driving in heavy traffic is exactly what makes long-distance racing so fascinating for me. Unfortunately, a drive-through penalty set us back by around 45 seconds and as a result, we crossed the finish line in ninth place. I’m already looking forward to the ‘Petit Le Mans’.”