Opinion: Why Porsche’s US racing season has been a success
As the old adage professes, you can make statistics show pretty much anything you want. Let’s take, for example, this year’s Tudor United SportsCar Championship, the inaugural season for America’s premier endurance series.
With a new, unified series bringing together some the biggest sports car manufacturers in the world (Ferrari, Corvette, Dodge and BMW) it was no wonder that Porsche wanted a piece of the action, teaming up with CORE Autosport to create Porsche North America Racing.
It was the first time Weissach would enter a works team in a US series since the 1998 Petit Le Mans but, unlike that one-off effort, this would be a year-long slog with just one target: winning.
The Porsche 991 RSR would be PNAR’s weapon of choice, a proven racer that tasted success last year in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and, in 2014-specification, looked even faster, allowing Weissach to take the charge to Maranello and Detroit.
Yet, come the end of the season, the highest placed Porsche 911 RSR would be the no. 912 factory entry, finishing fourth in the teams’ standings. Patrick Long and Michael Christensen, the regular drivers of the no. 912 entry, wound up sixth in the final drivers’ championship.
Even by Porsche’s lesser detractors, it doesn’t sound particularly impressive and that’s before you skim down the table even further to find the next Weissach entry, the no. 911 Porsche North America Racing machine, ninth in the teams’ championship.
As individual entries, the Porsche North America Racing 911 RSRs lacked the necessary consistency to challenge for the drivers’ and teams’ titles. Between rounds three and ten, Porsche failed to win a race, a remarkable five months and nine days without topping the podium.
However, taking these statistics at face value ignores the huge amount of success achieved by both the factory Porsche team and the sister entry run by Team Falken Tire.
Possibly the biggest achievement was that, compared to established US outfits like Corvette Racing, Porsche North America Racing was an all-new team, put together for the first just months before the season opener at Daytona.
While January may seem like an age away, especially in motorsport terms, Porsche didn’t show any signs of being the ‘new guy’ either in Florida, triumphing the world-renowned 24 Hours of Daytona thanks to Nick Tandy, Richard Lietz, Patrick Pilet and the no. 911 crew.
Next time out at the equally prestigious 12 Hours of Sebring, Weissach was once again on top, this time in the hands of Long, Christensen and Jörg Bergmeister, with the no. 912 machine coming out on top as the sister car ran into trouble early on.
While the next win wouldn’t come until the season-closer last weekend at Petit Le Mans (with victory this time going to the Falken Porsche 911 RSR), one 911 RSR has always run well at each race meaning.
This hasn’t been ideal for the drivers‘ or teams’ chances of overall glory but it has meant that over the course of the 2014 Tudor United SportsCar Championship, Porsche has been the strongest manufacturer in the GTLM class.
For Weissach, victory in the manufacturers’ championship will actually have been the biggest win of all. America is a huge market for Porsche so, for the brand to have ended the season on top is the perfect finish to what has actually been a truly successful season for Stuttgart.
So, whatever the statistic may show, one out of three titles really isn’t bad. In fact, it’s a stunning result and, as all eyes now turn towards 2015, we’re sure Porsche will be looking at adding the other two crowns to its roster next season.
Do you agree with Josh? Has this been a successful debut season for Porsche in America? Or were you hoping for more? Join the debate in the comments below, or head to our Facebook and Twitter pages now.