2016 WeatherTech USCC: Road America preview
Ever since winning its first race of the 2016 WeatherTech United SportsCar Championship season in round four at Long Beach, Porsche North America Racing has seen its challenge for further GTLM class triumphs stymied, not least by a raft of unfavourable Balance of Performance changes.
It’s a remarkable change in fortunes. This time last year, the US factory outfit was well on its way to securing all three USCC titles with a winning streak that included a one-two victory at Road America’s ‘Road Race Showcase’ event.
While Porsche is now a long shot to retain all three of its titles, there is a chance the works 911 RSR duo could be battling to repeat last season’s one-two as the USCC returns to Road America this weekend.
After a weight reduction before Mosport proved no more than lip service (the 911 RSR is already running as light as possible in the US series), championship organiser IMSA has now made further BoP changes to help the Porsches’ competitiveness.
With its long straights and high-speed corners, the 4.05-mile Wisconsin track near Elkhart Lake is a power circuit and the 911 RSRs should now benefit from an extra 0.3mm reduction in their air restrictor size, allowing the 4.0-litre Mezger flat six to breath better.
Porsche’s quartet of factory drivers are cautiously optimistic about their chances at Road America. “After things haven’t gone so well for us recently I’m hoping that our team’s hard work will be rewarded and that we regain a little of our old strength at Road America,” explained Frédéric Makowiecki, who will again partner Earl Bamber in the no. 912 machine.
Last year’s GTLM winners, Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet in the no. 911 Porsche 911 RSR had to come all the way through the pack to triumph in 2015 and, while the latter admits “you don’t experience that every day”, his British teammate points out “it’s always great fun competing” at Elkhart Lake.
Heading into the eighth round of the 2016 season, the no. 912 machine leads the way for Porsche in the teams’ standings, sitting in sixth place, 38 points behind the championship leading no. 4 Corvette squad. On 179 points, the no. 911 crew is a further 11 points (and two positions further back).
Track action gets underway today with two practice sessions before the grid is set during Saturday’s qualifying session. The two-hour, 40-minute race is green-flagged at 4:05pm local time.
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