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Porsche Expected Tough GTLM Challenge at Road America

Third “the maximum” result for Porsche at Road America after being out-paced by GTLM rivals…

Photo: Porsche

Porsche did not expect to be the dominant GT Le Mans manufacturer in Sunday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship round at Road America, according to Earl Bamber.

The German marque arrived in Wisconsin with a shot at theoretically clinching the class manufacturers’ title, off the back of five consecutive victories for its two cars earlier in the season.

However, it missed out on this chance with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing taking a 1-2 result and the best-placed Porsche finishing third after profiting from a late stop for the No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R. 

Bamber, who shared the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR with Laurens Vanthoor, suggested that other manufacturers had stronger packages at Road America, while Vanthoor described their third place as “the maximum we could have done.”

“To be honest, if you look at qualifying, I don’t think we were a match for anybody,” Bamber told Sportscar365.

“We know from history that we haven’t been particularly strong [at Road America] because it’s more of a horsepower track. It seems we’ve still got a bit more homework to do on tire degradation as well.”

Vanthoor added: “Road America is absolutely not our strongest. We came home with a podium and extended the [drivers’] points lead, so we couldn’t have asked for more really.”

Bamber said that it was always Porsche’s intention to split the strategies of its two GTLM cars in the event of the race running with or without multiple caution periods.

In the end, no caution periods occurred in the 2-hour 40-minute race, leaving the No. 912 squad in the best position to pick up a podium finish.

The No. 911 Porsche of Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet made an early pit stop to slip out of sequence and rely on a stoppage to climb back up the field, but this plan ultimately backfired.

“I think a lot of people gambled on [there being] yellows, and as soon as that happened there were three cars on one strategy that gambled for green and the rest of the field gambled on yellow,” said Bamber.

“It was either going to work out for three of us to be on the podium or it was going to work out for the other cars to be on the podium.

“I think it was a great strategy race, and I think we got the absolute most from our car.

“The No. 911, because they were last and had nothing to lose, tried something. It worked last year where they pitted early and cycled straight back to the front, but this year it didn’t work.

“That’s the beauty of these races. They can go either way. We always sit down and discuss and say what we can do better.

“I have to say the guys at Porsche did a good job to give us a good car so now we’re going to try to fight at Virginia.”

John Dagys contributed to this report.

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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