Porsche’s factory GT Team are still searching for their first win in America with the new 911 RSR, and have pinpointed qualifying as the crucial factor for breaking their duck with their mid-engined sportscar at the next IMSA round in Lime Rock Park.
Marco Ujhasi, Porsche’s director of GT Factory Motorsports, stressed that the short and tight nature of the Lime Rock circuit would put a larger emphasis on qualifying than at any other venue on the calendar.
“The recipe for success on this very short circuit is comparatively easy: You have to start from pole and drive a clean race,” explained Ujhasi. “Overtaking is almost impossible here so a good qualifying result is paramount. In the very little time we have available over this two-day event, we need to concentrate.”
Laurens Vanthoor reiterated Ujhasi’s concerns over lack of preparation time. With less entries thanks to only the GTLM and GTD classes competing this weekend, the shorter event schedule leaves the teams less time to optimise their cars ahead of the race on Saturday.
“Instead of the usual three free practices, there are just two. And then there’s the qualifying. We don’t have a lot of time to set up the new 911 RSR for this very special circuit. Still, I hope that we can do well.”
Vanthoor’s quest for success is not helped by the lack of track time Gianmaria Bruni – his co-pilot in the #912 car – has had at Lime Rock, due to spending recent years in the World Endurance Championship based primarily in Europe.
“I haven’t yet been able to gain a lot of experience at Lime Rock. The last time I raced here was in 2010. I drove one of the practices and that was all. My teammate drove the second practice and the qualifying – and destroyed our car in the first race lap,” he said, referring to his former team-mate Jaime Melo at Risi Competizione that year.
“Apart from that I like the New England states. I’m very much looking forward to the race and the special atmosphere of this racetrack in the middle of the countryside. Of course I’m hoping that I’ll have more luck this time than I did in 2010.”
The other side of the Porsche GT garage was somewhat more optimistic over their chances of success. Dirk Werner was keen to point out the absence of both prototype classes will give them a chance of an outright win, with Lime Rock being of only two events – along with Virginia International Raceway – that GTLM features as top billing.
“Only GT cars compete at Lime Rock so we can go for overall victory,” he said. “That makes this race especially interesting. We’ve not yet competed there with the new 911 RSR, so we don’t have any practical experience and therefore we need to make sure we find the best possible setup for our car during the short practice session.
The last of the Porsche factory quartet Patrick Pilet seemed the most keen to embrace the unusual nature of Lime Rock Park compared to the rest of the IMSA season, pointing out its unique characteristics should allow him and his Porsche co-pilots to put on a good show for the paying crowds.
“The Lime Rock Park circuit reminds me a lot of a go-kart track. It’s short and tight and that makes it special. This is the only track where we turn 70 laps in one stint. That’s unusual. Most of the time the cars are bunched up very close together and this treats fans to some gripping duels in every lap.”