Nick Tandy said he carried advice from his 2015 Petit Le Mans overall-winning triumph into the closing laps of Saturday’s rain-soaked Kyalami 9 Hour, which saw Porsche break through for victory and take a sweep of the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli titles.
A charge from third to first on the final restart with 25 minutes to go, and a controlling drive once out front in the wet, gave Tandy and co-drivers Mathieu Jaminet and Dennis Olsen the win in their No. 31 Frikadelli Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R.
The victory, the German manufacturer’s third of the five-round IGTC season, saw Olsen pick up the drivers’ title and Porsche the manufacturers’ crown following an up-and-down race.
“It was like Petit 2015, it was just a lot shorter,” Tandy told Sportscar365.
“We went green with about 30 minutes left and the conditions were pretty much as bad as it was that year.
“We had pace in the car, that was clear, and we were starting to pull a gap. The guys on the pit wall were telling me what the gap was.
“I actually thought, it was something Alwin Springer said to me afterwards at Atlanta when we were ahead and people said we needed to slow the 911 down to be safe.
“Alwin said, ‘You need to keep the driver pushing because this is when they’re in their element and the tire is in its working window.’
“This is what I was thinking on track: I need to keep pushing, keep the car working and keep the tires hot.”
Tandy took a 6.745-second win over the No. 34 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 of Nicky Catsburg following an up-and-down weekend for himself and the Manthey-supported squad.
The Englishman rebounded from an off-course excursion in Q3 on Friday to claim pole, while contact with the then race-leading No. 20 GPX Porsche of Michael Christensen resulted in a drive-through penalty for the car in the fifth hour.
It put the car behind through the middle portion of the race, which only saw the forecasted rain arrive in the final two-and-a-half hours.
“I’ve made my fair share of mistakes and for those reasons I owed it to the team to do my best in qualifying yesterday or to try and finish off the job this evening in the race,” Tandy said.
“We were here to win a championship and we did that for Porsche.
“We said to keep it simple and did everything we could to try and win the race.
“This means when you’re out there driving, you drive 100 percent. When it comes to the pit stops, and there’s a two or three-second pit window that you could be plus-or-minus, we went for it.
“We really stretched the last stop and just made it in before Mathieu’s drive time was up.
“Because of that we managed to get out with less than 65 [minutes] to go so we didn’t have to make another stop.”
Manufacturers’ Title “A Big Deal” for Porsche
Tandy said having played a leading role in securing Porsche’s first IGTC manufacturers’ championship was a “rewarding” experience considering the level of effort it put into the event.
“You can see by the amount of effort Porsche put into this race what it means to them,” he said.
“They brought the extra drivers, the extra cars, the Spa-winning car and crew and all this to try and win a championship.
“It’s a big deal for them. There’s a lot of hard work and effort that’s gone into it. There’s a lot of people that have been involved with getting all the stuff over here to South Africa.
“It’s rewarding that we can come back and say, ‘It’s all worthwhile doing it’ because we’re coming away as the champions of the Intercontinental GT Challenge.”