There were mixed feelings in the Porsche camp after qualifying for the Nürburgring 24, however Nick Tandy is confident that they will feature more prominently in the race itself.
Despite making a huge step forward over the outgoing 997 model, all three teams running the 911 GT3 R have struggled to get on terms with Mercedes, Audi and BMW, with a lack of acceleration out of slower corners and onto the Döttinger Höhe their chief complaint.
This is despite being permitted to run a 1mm larger restrictor after the privateer Frikadelli Racing temporarily withdrew their entry in protest at the Balance of Performance.
“Of course the change helped us, but I would not say we are getting an advantage; it’s more or less working against a disadvantage,” Richard Lietz told Sportscar365.
The factory Manthey No. 912 car Lietz will share with Michael Christensen, Jörg Bergmeister and Fred Makowiecki was the fastest of the Porsches in the Top-30 Qualifying session and will start 12th, with Patrick Huisman 20th for Frikadelli.
A heavy crash for Kevin Estre at Bergwerk on his out-lap meant the second Manthey No. 911 will start 29th after a comprehensive overnight repair that was narrowly completed in time for the car to run in the morning warmup.
Falken Motorsports missed out on the Top-30 and will start 35th after Wolf Henzler’s best time at the end of Qualifying 2 was stymied by a Code 60.
“It’s a big step from the old car with the way that it works across the full range of the track, so for example you could get the old car to work really well on the Nordschleife but then you’d suffer a lot in the Grand Prix section,” said Tandy, who will drive the No. 911 with Estre, Earl Bamber and Patrick Pilet.
“This car seems like it has quite a good baseline, so we’re relatively happy, we just need more power and more grip!”
“I’m encouraged by the fact that the handling of the car is pretty good, our top speed is quite okay but the car has a got a lot of drag, so it takes a long time to get there,” added Huisman.
“Our problem is when we get to the straight, they will come off the corner and pull a gap. Even with a fantastic slipstream behind a Bentley, I’m able to keep up but that’s about it, you don’t have a chance to overtake.”
However, the Porsche’s record over 24-hour races is a good one, having finished second in the GT3 R’s first outing at Daytona and when Porsche’s proven pedigree in the wet is added into the equation, Tandy is confident that their single lap disadvantage would count for little in the race itself.
“How the cars are performing relative to each other at any point in the race, for example in tire life, in stint length, fuel level and stuff like that will make much more of a difference than 10 horsepower,” he said.
“You might have a really good wet tire and then when it starts to dry out, it might become a complete disaster, but a car that doesn’t work so well in full wet conditions might be able to run that tire much longer in the dry.
“It’s all part of the lottery of the Nürburgring because you’ve got so many different cars and so many different factors that go into how quick each entry is.
“We know that the car works well in the rain and we’ve got a wet tire that suits Porsche, so I think we’re close enough to fight anybody.”