2015 Tudor USCC: Virginia International Raceway race report
Porsche North America Racing is officially on a roll. Round eight of the 2015 Tudor United SportsCar Championship at Virginia International Raceway saw the US factory team takes its third consecutive victory of the year, strengthening Weissach’s grip on the manufacturers’ title.
As at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Road America, it was the no. 911 Porsche 911 RSR, driven by Patrick Pilet and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, Nick Tandy that led the way, romping home to 27-second victory over the sister no. 912 RSR of Earl Bamber and Jörg Bergmeister.
Weissach’s domination of proceedings at VIR began in qualifying where the two works Porsche 911 RSRs were perfectly set up for a track that, due to high ambient temperatures, was much slower than the earlier practice sessions.
Tandy quickly jumped to the head of the timing screens, proceeding to better his times with almost every lap before plateauing with a 1m42.532s, good enough for his third GTLM pole position (the first man in USCC history to do so).
Bergmeister was never far behind in the no. 912 car though and would eventually qualify second, less than a tenth of a second away to secure Porsche’s first front row lockout of the season.
Sunday’s two-hour, 40-minute race kicked off with Tandy once more asserting his authority, stretching out an advantage over the chasing pack during his opening stint before handing over Patrick Pilet at the first tyre stops.
Behind, Bergmeister’s run was made more complicated thanks to the attentions of Pierre Kaffer in the no. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 458 Italia. Contact between the pair on lap one saw the Porsche drop to third before Bergmeister moved back into second at Oak Tree turn.
However, Kaffer wasn’t finished, demoting Bergmeister once again to third, a position where Bergmeister would stay until handing over to Bamber at the first round of tyre stops.
While Pilet maintained the no. 911 machine’s advantage out front, Bamber was forced to rally having dropped to fifth behind the early-stopping BMW Z4s. Trading fastest laps with Pilet, the Kiwi racer carved through the GTLM field to take second just before his final tyre change.
After the out of sequence BMWs pitted again, the two Porsches (with Tandy back at the wheel of the no. 911 RSR) led the field, although Bamber was some 30 seconds back from his Le Mans teammate.
Tandy, managing fuel and tyres perfectly was able to comfortably take the chequered flag, giving the Porsche 911 RSR its first outright victory (the race at VIR being contested only by the GTLM and GTD teams).
Behind though, Bamber was forced to save fuel in the final laps, allowing the no. 62 Ferrari to close back in. Some traffic on the penultimate lap saw the gap drop from four seconds to just two, before a slow final lap for Bamber allowed the Ferrari right onto his rear wing through the final two turns.
Bamber held on though, taking second place by just 0.575 seconds to secure Porsche North America Racing’s second consecutive one-two finish in the United SportsCar Championship.
Not only does the result strengthen Porsche’s position atop the manufacturers’ table but, thanks to the no. 3 Corvette’s sixth place finish, it also vaults Pilet and the no. 911 crew to the top of the driver and team standings, with a five point advantage in both.
Just two rounds now remain in the 2015 season, with the USCC circus next heading to Austin, Texas for another two-hour, 40-minute event at COTA (alongside the FIA WEC race) on 17-19 September.
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