2015 Tudor USCC: 24 Hours of Daytona race report
Porsche North America Racing were unable to repeat last year’s victory at the 2015 24 Hours of Daytona, the opening race of this year’s Tudor United SportsCar Championship.
Despite showing strong pace, the factory Porsche 911 RSRs were hampered by a number of incidents as the no. 911 machine led the Weissach charge, taking the chequered flag in fifth.
After a difficult qualifying session, Nick Tandy started the no. 911 car (which he would share with Patrick Pilet and Marc Lieb) on Saturday afternoon, surging through the field in the opening 30 minutes and snatching the lead during his opening stint.
Frédéric Makowiecki in the no. 912 RSR was not so lucky, bringing his Porsche back to pits on lap two with a broken alternator, necessitating a long stop that lost the car six laps.
Incredibly, by the time midnight fell upon Daytona International Speedway, the no. 912 Porsche in the hands of Makowiecki, Jörg Bergmeister and Earl Bamber had made it back onto the lead lap and was vying with the no. 911 car for second and third.
As ever, the action in the GTLM class was frantic and close fought, with both factory Porsche 911 RSRs looking good as the race approached half distance. However, all that would change just short of the 12-hour mark.
Running in close formation, the two 911 RSRs approached a lapped GTD class Aston Martin. Lieb, at the wheel of no. 911, was baulked causing Bamber in the no. 912 car to take to the grass in avoiding action.
Spinning across the damp infield grass, Bamber hit the side of Lieb’s car at the turn two hairpin, causing heavy damage to both works Porsches. No. 912 would be in the pits for 18 laps, with no. 911 losing a further 64 laps to the GTLM-leading Corvettes.
This left the Team Falken Porsche 911 RSR as Weissach’s sole hope for Daytona victory. Factory drivers, Wolf Henzler and Patrick Long, along with Bryan Sellers had been right in the thick of the GTLM battle, leading the race during the first hour.
With just four competitors left on the lead lap, the Falken Porsche ran comfortably in leading quartet until, on Sunday morning, the RSR’s crankcase was damaged, leading to their immediate retirement.
Falken’s demise elevated the factory entries back up the order, leaving the no. 912 Porsche 911 in fourth, when a gearbox problem caused the PNAR squad to withdraw the Makowiecki/Bergmeister/Bamber entry as a precaution.
Despite running over 80 laps behind the GTLM leader, this left the no. 911 Porsche of Tandy, Pilet and Lieb to take fifth come the Sunday afternoon’s chequered flag, a useful haul of points to start the 2015 season with.
There was more success in the GTD class where the Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America of Cooper MacNeil, Leh Keen, Andrew Davis and Shane van Gisbergen secured second place, just seven seconds behind the winning Dodge Viper.
Behind, the Brumos-liveried 911 GT America of Madison Snow, Jan Heylen, Philipp Eng and Hollywood actor, Patrick Dempsey finished third for Dempsey/Wright Motorsport.
The next round of the Tudor United SportsCar Championship sees the circus stay in Florida for the famous 12 Hours of Sebring on 18-21 March. You can stay up to date on all the action via our dedicated motorsport section.