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Pilet, Bachler Hoping to Continue Pfaff’s Recent Success

Pfaff Motorsport’s new GTD Pro pairing keen to emulate Canadian team’s recent success…

Photo: Jordan Lenssen/Pfaff Motorsports

Patrick Pilet and Klaus Bachler are hoping to continue Pfaff Motorsport’s recent good form in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship as a new full-season pairing.

Pfaff won the GTD title in 2021 before sealing the inaugural GTD Pro championship last year with Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet, whose promotion to Porsche Penske Motorsport’s GTP squad left two vacant spots in the No. 9 Porsche 911 GT3 R for 2023.

The new full-season lineup combines Pilet’s American sports car racing experience with Bachler’s wealth of Porsche GT3 seat time in Europe.

Factory driver Laurens Vanthoor joins them for the four Michelin Endurance Cup rounds including next weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Pilet told Sportscar365 that he and Bachler hope to emulate Campbell and Jaminet’s achievement by having a similarly cohesive working relationship.

“We will have a lot of fun,” Pilet said. “We’re both really hard workers. Even if it’s difficult at some points, we know you never arrive and win everything straight away.

“Coming from a team with so much past success, everyone will look at us.

“But we are optimistic about the way we develop the season and to have a chance to win the championship because it’s clearly the goal of us all.

“Pfaff won the last two championships and we will try to do the same, but it will be tough. We have everything to make a great season.”

Bachler is eager to draw on Pilet’s knowledge of American racing as he steps into his first WeatherTech Championship season.

“For me, I can learn so much from Patrick,” said the 31-year-old Austrian, who is a three-time race winner in Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup.

“He has so much experience, especially in the U.S. We’re sharing a car for the whole season, so we have to work closely together to get the maximum out.

“I raced a lot in Europe, but IMSA is something different and the tracks are different. I’m open for this and I want to prove that I can be there as fast as possible.

“We need to work very well together. For this, I am ready.”

Pilet is returning to a full-time WeatherTech Championship seat after three seasons out, while his comeback to the highest GT class in IMSA makes him “feel back home”.

He previously held a full-season role with the CORE autosport-run factory Porsche squad in the defunct GT Le Mans category from 2015 to 2019.

Pilet took a dozen GTLM victories with Porsche including the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and Motul Petit Le Mans.

Since exiting that program, the Frenchman only contested two Daytona editions – including one with Pfaff – as his career focus shifted to racing LMP2 cars in Europe.

“[The U.S.] is where I started my first season with Porsche in 2008 with Flying Lizard,” he said.

“I have some experience in prototypes and still have some goals to achieve in the future there, but I am super happy about this program. I couldn’t dream of a better place to race.

“It’s really important to feel at home in the team, and this is exactly what I feel with Pfaff. They welcomed us really nicely and really listen to what we want to achieve with them.”

However, Pilet also noted that it won’t simply be a case of inheriting a championship-winning machine, as Pfaff gets to grips with the new Type-992 Porsche 911 GT3 R.

“Even if the car is well-made, we know just a small percentage of the capacity and potential, so we have to work really hard,” he suggested.

“It’s not like coming from last year with all the setup. It would be a lot easier for us [if we did].

“The past car was four years of development and setup, so everyone knew everything about every single aspect to be in the performance window. Now we have to learn this, so it’s an even bigger challenge for us.

“But I have a lot of experience in this process. And Klaus has driven for many different teams and tire manufacturers. That will always help you in this championship.”

The biggest challenge for Bachler, who like Pilet was involved in the Type-992 development process, will be to learn several circuits that he has not visited before.

“I’ve done Daytona seven times before so that is not a problem, but I don’t know the other tracks,” he said.

“For this, you need to have a very strong team. They are already planning that we go testing on some tracks, which will help.

“But with Patrick and all the experience he has, it’s much easier for me to get up to speed and learn.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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