Fred Makowiecki says Porsche GT Team “struggled” in the wet conditions that characterized the second half of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The French driver, who shared the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR with Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet, said there was a noticeable drop in the car’s pace when the rain started to fall just before 5 a.m. local time.
Early splitter issues for the No. 912 car meant the German manufacturer’s No. 911 machine was the prime Porsche for much of the race.
It ended up becoming an integral part of the lead battle in the opening half, with Makowiecki overtaking BMW Team RLL’s Augusto Farfus for the lead just before the 12-hour mark.
However, it went on to finish two laps down in fifth after multiple spins and incidents in the wet conditions including a collision with the then-leading No. 66 Ford GT of Joey Hand with three hours to go.
“To be honest, unfortunately we did not have the speed in the rain that we had in the dry,” Makowiecki told Sportscar365.
“Overall, we suffered a lot in the wet, especially the full wet conditions because there was a lot of aquaplaning. You could see that we could not follow the Ferrari, the BMW or the Ford also, and we suffered a lot.
“In the dry we were very competitive. To be honest I think that we had a clear chance to win if it was dry. Unfortunately, it was not the case like that.
“[We are] proud about what we achieved this weekend because if you have a look we have always been at the front of every session. Unfortunately, the rain decided a different result for us.”
Makowiecki explained that the Porsche 911 RSR was more competitive in the wet when it ran with its engine placed further back in the chassis in the previous-generation model which retired in 2016.
“It was especially [competitive] with the old architecture in the car with the engine on the back,” he said.
“With the mid-engine, we for sure have no more advantage compared to our competitors – the balance is the same as everybody else.
“We probably need to work a little bit on that because it looks like we are more sensitive in terms of aquaplaning than our competitors.
“For us, we swapped from one of the top manufacturers in terms of speed in the dry to maybe the slowest in the wet.”
Dry Pace Encouraging for Sebring
Makowiecki feels Porsche will be more competitive at the typically dry Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring based on its clear-weather pace in the first half of the Rolex 24.
The Frenchman won Sebring last year with Tandy and Pilet, as well as the season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans.
“We come as the winner from Sebring so we expect to be competitive,” he said.
“We want to do it well. Daytona is always a big moment of the season and when we don’t realize the result we expect, we really want to come into Sebring and get a strong performance.
“[At Daytona in the dry] the car was easy running, easy going, no issues. Stint after stint, we could always fight and be at the front. We had perfect conditions until the rain came.”
Porsche’s No. 912 crew of Laurens Vanthoor, Earl Bamber and Mathieu Jaminet recovered from the early setbacks through multiple full-course yellows to finish third after the No. 67 Ford was demoted post-race for a time penalty.