2015 Tudor USCC: Road America race report
After starting at the back of the grid for the seventh round of the 2015 Tudor United SportsCar Championship, the no. 911 Porsche North America Racing 911 RSR of Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet pulled off a stunning victory at Road America, moving Weissach to the head of manufacturers’ standings.
Speaking to Total 911 before Elkhart Lake, Tandy didn’t expect the 4.05-mile track (featuring a number of long straights) to suit the 4.0-litre Porsche 911 RSRs. However, Friday practice suggested that the two factory entries were well and truly in the mix.
Unfortunately, the Anglo-French driver pairing was stymied in qualifying by an engine problem that left their car mired among the GTD class cars, nine places behind the Team Falken Porsche 911 RSR (the next slowest GTLM entry).
PNAR’s honour was at least upheld by Tandy’s Le Mans teammate, Earl Bamber though as the Kiwi racer – taking part in his first grid-setting session as a works driver in the no. 912 RSR – set a new GTLM qualifying record to secure pole position, nearly 0.3 seconds faster than the championship-leading no. 3 Corvette.
Sunday’s two-hour, 40-minute race began with Bamber scampering into an early lead as Pilet (starting at the back after an overnight engine change) wowed the crowds with a thrilling charge during the opening laps.
By the end of the first lap, the Frenchman had dispatched all ten GTD cars, closing up onto the back of the GTLM pack. Three laps later and Pilet was up to fourth before taking third place on lap nine.
At the first round of stops, Pilet handed the reins over to Tandy who continued to cement the no. 911 entry’s podium position while Bamber remained at the wheel of the no. 912 RSR, leading the way in the car he shared with Jörg Bergmeister.
The halfway point saw Porsche in control, with Bamber at the head of the field chased by Tandy in second however, both drivers would be back in the garage at the next stop as Bergmeister and Pilet jumped into their respective 911 RSRs.
With 45 minutes to go, Bergmeister came in for the no. 912 car’s final fuel stop, rejoining in the GTLM field in third place. However, the German lost further places on his outlap as his tyres took too long to come up to temperature.
Pilet pitted soon after, handing the lead to the no. 62 Ferrari 458 Italia of Giancarlo Fisichella and Pierre Kaffer but, when it was the turn of the Maranello machine to head to pit road, the Frenchman assumed a lead he would never surrender.
Behind, Bergmeister set about chasing down the Ferrari and, in a thrilling final two laps, was engaged in a thrilling dice with Kaffer for second position. Coming into turn 13 on the final tour, the pair were running side-by-side before slight contact sent the Ferrari through the grass.
Second place was Bergmeister’s, giving Porsche North America Racing its first one-two of the 2015 season, and securing Weissach’s third consecutive victory in this year’s Tudor United SportsCar Championship.
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