Nick Tandy says winning the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring has been high on his list of priorities for a while and doing so earlier this month completes the set of major endurance racing victories.
The Porsche factory driver took the GT Le Mans class honors at at Sebring earlier this month, adding to the GT Le Mans class victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2014 and the overall win in the Motul Petit Le Mans in 2015.
Tandy’s victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2015, in a Porsche 919 Hybrid, now gives the Englishman triumphs at the four of the major endurance races.
“After I won Daytona in 2014, the win at Sebring was the last one to complete the set of U.S. classics after winning Petit in 2013,” Tandy told Sportscar365.
“It was always super high on the list, and then obviously with the win at Le Mans, it really completes the set of Le Mans-spec cars races. It’s been high on the priority list for a long time.”
As well as being his first win in the race, Sebring also marked Porsche’s first major win with the new mid-engined 911 RSR, which was introduced last year.
Its maiden win came in the WeatherTech Championship round at Lime Rock Park last July while the car failed to score any GTE-Pro wins in the FIA World Endurance Championship last season.
“It’s huge for Porsche and it’s a huge thing for everybody who has worked on the new car,” Tandy said.
“It’s good to be able to say we’ve produced this car that has had this success in a major endurance classic, which is what Porsche is all about.
“It’s a recognition for everybody’s hard work back at the factory, as much as the race crew and everybody who delivered on track.
“Porsche builds endurance race cars to win these big events and championships so of course it’s a huge thing for the new car.”
With wins in the three biggest WeatherTech Championship races, Tandy has turned his attention to the championship itself, something he hasn’t been able to achieve so far.
While having teamed with Patrick Pilet for the majority of the 2015 season, he missed out on the title that year due to missing two GTLM rounds due to his Porsche LMP1 commitments.
“Obviously you want to win every race you go into but the next goal is a championship win,” he said. “I was obviously part of the team when Porsche won the championship in 2015 but I missed a couple of races.
“The next goal is to achieve a championship with Porsche. I haven’t been able to win a championship since the Carrera Cup in 2011.
“We’ve been lucky enough to win at various different tracks across the world, and especially in America.
“If we didn’t win another race for the rest of this season but picked up points and ended up with the championship, that would be absolutely fine.”
Tandy does admit this will be a difficult task given the competitiveness of the GTLM field, especially with the new-for-2018 BMW M8 GTE showing remarkably improved pace between Daytona and Sebring.
All five GTLM manufacturers were within 0.8 seconds of each other in qualifying at Sebring and the Porsche didn’t manage to top any Practice sessions while BMW Team RLL scored pole.
“At the moment, we still don’t look spectacular on pace,” Tandy admitted. “We won at Sebring because pretty much all of the faster cars had issues of some sort during the race.
“We were clean and managed to get to the front and stay out there. Obviously going into the shorter races later in the season, we need to find some pace.
“We need to find some qualifying pace and some general car speed. Hopefully that will come, and that’s obviously the aim for the team going forward, but we don’t expect to win every weekend we go out.
“To win championships, you’ve just got to be solid and scoring points, and pick up these opportunities like we did at Sebring, when the present themselves.”