Romain Dumas believes a combination of traffic and two slower pit stops compared to their competition dashed hopes of a runner-up finish for Park Place Motorsports in Saturday’s California 8 Hours.
Dumas and co-drivers Sven Mueller and Mathieu Jaminet took their Porsche 911 GT3 R to a third place result in the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli round, following a hard-fought race that went caution-free.
The No. 911 Porsche finished 20.768 seconds behind the race-winning HubAuto Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3, which had lost the lead to Jaminet in the fourth hour.
While evenly matched through the middle stages of the race, the Park Place Porsche faded in the closing hours, not only to the Ferrari but also the No. 999 GruppeM Mercedes-AMG GT3, which got by to finish second.
“The first four hours we were very good,” Dumas told Sportscar365. “We took a lot of risks because we undercut.
“It paid off so we got the lead and [was] why we were leading the Ferrari.
“After that we had two pit stops that were a little bit too long but the competition is so close that these two pit stops cost us second place and [then] third place.
“On top of that, we had bad traffic. It didn’t [cost us the chance of winning] because the Ferrari deserved to win.
“But on the other end, the [GruppeM] Mercedes was very good in pit stops from hours 4-8, and this is why they came back 12 seconds to the Ferrari and they didn’t have the speed.
“Between second, third and fourth was very close. It was only given if you got held up by somebody or how you arrived to pass.”
Park Place’s director of operations Mike Johnson defended the team’s performance on pit lane, stating their cumulative pit stop time was only 3.8 seconds over the enforced minimum total in the race.
It came out, on average, to less than 0.6 seconds per stop.
“We were right on the pit stops,” Johnson told Sportscar365.
“We had a lot of trouble with traffic with the Acura, Bentley and BMWs. We would catch them, then everyone else would catch us.
“So we tried to work a little harder to keep jumping stops to get ahead.
“We had one stop where we were in front of the Ferrari and he was on our tail and we had about two laps and I don’t think we were quick enough on those two laps and they came out right in front of us and that was it.
“We lost by 20 seconds but we easily lost 20 in traffic today.”
Dumas, however, was still pleased with the podium result, in his first race with the new-for-2019 Porsche.
“The competition was so high,” he said. “You needed to do everything perfect. It’s like this. At the end, we could not have done a lot better.
“It was the first time with the [new car for me] and we’re on the podium so it’s already good.
“Finally now we’re fighting for wins. It never happened to me since I’ve been back driving in GT.”
Park Place Leaving Laguna With “Heads Held High”
Johnson said he’s extremely proud of the team’s performance in its factory debut.
It came in its third endurance race of the year with the new GT3 contender, having also finished on the lead lap in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, while being the highest-placed Porsche in all three events.
“At the end of the day, I couldn’t be any happier,” Johnson said.
“This is still, for the most part, a new team. Park Place has been around but we’ve got a lot of new faces and a lot of new names here.
“For us to do 44 hours [of racing] on the lead lap of every [endurance] race, and for the first time in a race like this as a team, to have 3.8 seconds over the minimum time I think is pretty awesome.
“We’re going out of here with our heads held high.”