Porsche managed to make the most of a costly pit lane collision by getting the No. 912 entry of Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor to a podium finish in GT Le Mans in Saturday’s Cadillac Grand Prix of Sebring.
The pair of factory Porsche 911 RSR-19s collided on pit lane following the first round of stops, which immediately dashed hopes of class victory in the third round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.
The No. 912 Porsche of Vanthoor, who was clipped by Nick Tandy’s No. 911 entry upon exit, lost its nose and was forced to re-enter the pits for repairs, only to later also serve a drive-through penalty for not adhering to pit lane protocol.
Vanthoor, who started fourth in the two-hour and 40-minute race, had been leading prior to the miscue.
While Tandy’s Porsche developed a right-rear puncture as a result of the contact, the defending GTLM class champions rebounded to finish third, thanks to a shift in strategy from the CORE autosport-run crew and a late charge by Bamber, who got around both of the Team RLL BMW M8 GTEs in the closing minutes of the race.
“It was a tough day and it shouldn’t have been,” Bamber said. “Our two cars were very strong, but unfortunately, the pit incident cost us a lot of time.
“Laurens drove very strong stints and our strategy was optimal. That’s how we managed to mitigate the damages as much as possible.
“Today’s race could have thrown a spanner in the works in terms of the championship, but thanks to this podium result, we’re still looking good.”
Bamber and Vanthoor lost the GTLM championship lead as a result, although only sit one point behind Corvette Racing’s Jordan Taylor and Antonio Garcia heading into next month’s scheduled round at Road America.
“I haven’t yet been able to explain precisely how this incident happened,” Vanthoor said. “Communication was definitely not perfect.
“Still, we fought our way up to third place and that yielded us vital points. I hope that our mistake quota has been fulfilled and we’re spared such things as the season continues.”
Corvette’s Oliver Gavin, who along with co-driver Tommy Milner went onto score victory, was the third car involved in the incident although said he “didn’t know anything about it” until being told post-race.
“I just saw one of the Porsches left missing its front bumper,” he said. “I think it was all of us trying to leave together and there just wasn’t enough room.
“I was already in the lane so when it’s like that I have priority.”