Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy delivered a championship-winning performance to win outright at Petit Le Mans, beating the Prototype competitors after a rain-soaked race that was ended early.
Starting from the back of the field due to a post-qualifying technical infraction, Tandy avoided collisions and the treacherous conditions to quickly charge through the GT Le Mans field. When he handed the car over to team-mate Pilet, fans witnessed an equally impressive performance once again.
However, the skill of both Pilet and the Porsche North America crew were highlighted at around the five hour mark – what would have been half distance. Whilst a handful of GTLM cars were at one point leading even the top Prototype runners, Pilet’s #911 Porsche 911 RSR was the only car that was actually able to do so when pitstops were not influencing the standings.
A red flag was called due to the weather conditions, and when the race got underway again, it was Tandy’s turn to return to the wheel of the Porsche. He kept the car at the top of the field until the stewards decided to bring out the chequered flag after just 7 hours and 51 minutes of a scheduled 10 hour race.
At this time, Tandy was not just leading the GTLM field, but the entire race, and so he has the claim to fame of winning both the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Petit Le Mans outright in the same year. More impressive still, it was with the same manufacturer but completely different class of car: his 24 hour win being in the Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 challenger.
Porsche have now won both the team and manufacturer championships in GTLM, whilst Pilet is drivers’ champion. Tandy is however unable to join his team-mate with this, as he missed a couple of rounds earlier in the season.
“It is just the best result I could ask for because Porsche is my family and it’s the best moment in my career so far,” said Pilet. “This one is really special because it was all down to team work, it was with Porsche, and we got the manufacturers’ championship, the teams’ championship, and the drivers’ championship all on the same night. The only small bad point is that Nick is not champion with me because he is my team-mate.”
“Honestly the last stint I did in the car, when the rain was pouring down, was the hardest stint I’ve ever had in my life and it’s the most concentration I’ve ever had to put into driving a race car,” admitted Tandy. “It’s a shame to finish the race early, but in the end it was the right call from IMSA because the conditions were worsening and it was becoming dangerous. What a fantastic job everyone has done all season, and to take all three championships is a testament to everybody. Personally, to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Petit Le Mans overall, both in one year is something a bit special.