Tudor USCC: Petit Le Mans race result
Team Falken Tire won their second successive Petit Le Mans as a Porsche 911 RSR one-two at Road Atlanta helped Weissach secure the inaugural Tudor United SportsCar manufacturers’ championship in the GTLM class.
All three Porsche 911 RSRs showed class-winning pace across the weekend, with Nick Tandy stealing the show on Friday afternoon with the no. 911 machine’s first USCC pole position of the season (after two front-row starts at Daytona and COTA).
As the ten-hour race got underway, Tandy immediately settled into the lead, amassing a comfortable lead before a full-course caution period closed the field up and initiated the first round of GTLM pitstops and driver changes.
Wolf Henzler, in the Falken 911 RSR, leapt into second, with Jörg Bergmeister (now at the helm of the no. 911 Porsche) chasing his countryman through the slower traffic in third but never able to get on top of the customer 911 RSR.
The no. 912 machine, started by Michael Christensen, was never far behind the lead battle and, with Porsche Supercup leader, Earl Bamber at the wheel, the second factory Porsche 911 emerged from the second round of stops in fourth, having previously battled in sixth.
After two hours, the order had settled down, with the Porsche North America Racing 911 RSRs running consistently in second and fourth, with the Falken car just a further position behind in fifth.
However, at second round of driver changes (again taken during a safety car period), the no. 911 Porsche 911 RSR hit the back of GTLM rival, the no. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 458 as a red light at the end of the pitlane caused a chain reaction that also involved the no. 3 Chevrolet Corvette.
The Ferrari was put out on the spot, with the Corvette forced to pit for lengthy delays. Patrick Pilet was able to stay on the lead lap in the no. 911 machine though, despite numerous quick trips to the pits for minor repairs.
The incident had put the Daytona-winning car out of sync with the GTLM frontrunners but, despite a major change to the car’s handling, Pilet and later Tandy were able to lead the race at points before Porsche decided to bring the car in for a lengthy stop, replacing the front nose section.
This would prove pivotal for the car’s chances but the gamble wouldn’t pay off. Too many crew members worked on the car in pit lane, forcing Tandy to return one lap later for a stop-go penalty. This dropped the no. 911 entry a lap down and out of contention. Tandy, Bergmeister and Pilet would eventually bring the car home in fifth.
At the front, the no. 912 Porsche took charge of the GTLM class, with Patrick Long initially free of challengers. However, as the race passed the six-hour mark, Bryan Sellers moved the Falken Tire 911 RSR into the lead, starting a battle that would last to the flag.
With seven hours to go, the no. 912 car was back in front, with pitstops dropping Marco Holzer (now in the Falken entry) down to third and allowing Bamber – on his race debut in the 911 RSR – to lead the field as the sun began to set over Braselton, Georgia.
With an hour to go, and Henzler recently back at the wheel, the Falken car looked on course for a comfortable run to the chequered flag having moved passed the no. 912 entry during the previous 60 minutes of racing.
However, there was one final twist in the Petit Le Mans tail: a late caution period closing up the field with 20 minutes left on the clock. By the time the track was cleared, the race became a six-minute sprint to the end, with Long hunting down Henzler, with the no. 91 Viper close behind the Weissach duo.
As was the case last year though, the Team Falken crew held firm under intense pressure, triumphing at Petit Le Mans for the second time in two years as Long brought the no. 912 Porsche 911 RSR home in second to secure the manufacturers’ title for Stuttgart.
The result would also ensure that Long, Christensen and the no. 912 crew secured all three available titles in the Patron Endurance Cup (awarded across the four longer events held at Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta) capping a successful debut season in the US for the 991-type RSR.