Tudor USCC: Petit Le Mans preview

Alongside the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring, Petit Le Mans completes the triple crown of the US endurance racing scene, making for a fitting finale to the 2014 Tudor United SportsCar Championship.

The last time that a factory Porsche 911 raced at the 1000-mile Road Atlanta race was in 1998, when the rule-bending Porsche 911 GT1-98 finished second overall in the inaugural running of the now prestigious Petit Le Mans.

Porsche’s return to the event comes on the back of a tumultuous American campaign that has seen it hit trouble in the last three races. What makes these difficulties even harder to bear is the fact all three occasions scuppered potentially race-winning chances.

The no. 912 Porsche 911 RSR finished third at COTA. Patrick Long and Michael Christensen will be joined by Earl Bamber at Road Atlanta.
The no. 912 Porsche 911 RSR finished third at COTA. Patrick Long and Michael Christensen will be joined by Earl Bamber at Road Atlanta.

However, it is not all doom and gloom heading as the TUSCC circus heads to Braselton, Georgia. The Porsche North America Racing 911 RSRs triumphed at both Daytona and Sebring, standing them in good stead ahead of this weekend’s Petit Le Mans, a race that runs for either 1000 miles or ten hours.

Porsche has often shone in the longer endurance races, where its superior use of strategy sees it making up for any lack of pace. With a recent Balance of Performance adjustment making the 991 RSRs more competitive, it could prove at irresistible combination at the high-speed, 2.54-mile track.

What’s more, despite Porsche’s lack of victories since its season opening wins, one factory 911 RSR has always scored well during the course of the season, leaving Weissach in with a chance of securing manufacturers’ honours come the close of Saturday’s race.

Patrick Pilet will join the no. 911 RSR as Porsche guns for the manufacturers' title.
Patrick Pilet will join the no. 911 RSR as Porsche guns for the manufacturers’ title.

The charge will be lead by the no. 911 machine, driven by Nick Tandy, Jörg Bergmeister and Patrick Pilet. Tandy helped the Falken Tire 997 GT3 RSR to a sensational victory at Petit Le Mans in 2013 and will be a strong favourite to repeat that success.

The British 911 ace will be without normal co-driver, Richard Lietz who still hasn’t recovered from injuries sustained at VIR. However, Tandy shared the no. 911 RSR with Bergmeister last time out at COTA, while Pilet helped the Briton and Lietz to victory at Daytona in January.

In the second Porsche North America Racing entry, regular no. 912 drivers, Patrick Long and Michael Christensen will be joined by 2014 Porsche Supercup title challenger, Earl Bamber, with the exceptionally fast Kiwi getting his first race experience behind the wheel of the 991-type RSR.

Nick Tandy hasn't had much luck in the no. 911 in recent races. He will be hoping for that to change at his favourite race of the year.
Nick Tandy hasn’t had much luck in the no. 911 in recent races. He will be hoping for that to change at his favourite race of the year.

Having lost their exclusive lead in the chase for the manufacturers’ title in Texas, Porsche still come into Petit Le Mans topping the table alongside Dodge, with both on 308 points. Chevrolet and BMW are a further eight points behind.

With 35 points on offer for victory, reducing by just three points for second place, it looks likely that whoever triumphs tomorrow will lift the crown.

In the GTD class, Total 911’s Supercup columnist, Ben Barker will once again return to the no. 81 Tully’s Coffee Porsche 911 GT America alongside Damian Faulkner, Michael Avenatti and Supercup rival, Philipp Eng. The quartet will be hoping to better their fourth place finish from Mosport.

Make sure you check back on Monday for a full race report from the prestigious Petit Le Mans.

Ben Barker will once again team up with GB Autosport in the no. 81 Tully's Coffee car.
Ben Barker will once again team up with GB Autosport in the no. 81 Tully’s Coffee car.

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