An unexpected shift in strategy paid off for the No. 912 Absolute Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, which claimed a podium finish in the Suzuka 10 Hours.
The Matt Campbell, Dennis Olsen and Dirk Werner-driven Porsche recorded a third place result in the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli round, keeping the trio within reach of the drivers’ championship following a hard-fought race on Sunday.
Confusion during the race’s first Full Course Yellow, which turned into a safety car period, put the Chinese squad’s Porsche off-sequence by staying out when the majority of the leaders came into pit.
It elected Campbell to second at the time, behind the eventual race-winning No. 25 Team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo.
Race engineer Owen Hayes revealed to Sportscar365 post-race that they were also meant to pit.
“The problem was they announced the safety car, then they took in the safety car boards,” he told Sportscar365.”It was too late.
“As soon as the safety car was announced we said stay out. He was just there on the pit-in. It played to our benefit totally in the end.”
Hayes explained that from that point forward the team ran to the 65-minute stint length maximum, a strategy they discussed “at length” pre-race.
Werner admitted the call was a bit of a “gamble” at the time but ultimately paid off.
“In end we were lucky that we were at least on the same strategy as the others,” he told Sportscar365.
“With the other one, it was a bit of a gamble. It was not a bad strategy but it was a bit of a gamble in the end.
“That way we could just fight with the others, more-or-less.”
A likely fourth place result turned into a podium finish in the final hour when the No. 125 Audi was delayed during its final stop due to a refueling issue.
Ironically, the Audi was also run by Absolute, although acting as seperate teams.
Campbell: Porsche Didn’t Have Outright Pace
While making a late-race challenge for second, Campbell believes they didn’t have the outright pace to match the race-winning Audi.
“I think we knew we maybe didn’t have the outright pace but we knew over a stint, especially at the end when the tires were very old, that we were still quite competitive,” Campbell told Sportscar365.
“On average lap time, I think we were just as good as the others today but we just didn’t have the outright speed at times.
“It was still positive. We have to be really happy with the podium.”