For the 66th time, the 12 hours of Sebring will be held on 17 March, the oldest and toughest sports car race in the USA. Porsche has written motorsport history with its successes at the legendary Sebring International Raceway. A record is not only the 18 overall and 70 class wins that make Porsche the most successful manufacturer of this classic. The 4,198 total rounds on the airfield course in the heart of Florida are also unsurpassed. Every year since 1953, at least one Porsche has been on the grid – except in 1974, when the race was canceled due to the oil crisis. 58 years after the first overall victory with the Porsche 718 RS, two 510 hp 911 RSR cars are racing in Sebring, used by the Porsche GT Team in the GTLM class, which is heavily staffed by vehicles from five car manufacturers.
This race is one of the great sports car classics. In addition to Porsche legends such as Dan Gurney, Hans Herrmann and Jacky Ickx, the former Formula 1 world champions Juan Manuel Fangio and Mario Andretti have immortalized themselves in his list of winners. Even Hollywood stars met in Sebring their racer dream: Paul Newman was at the classic in Florida as well as Patrick Dempsey and Steve McQueen, who made it in 1970 with a Porsche 908 in second place even on the podium. The 5.954 kilometers long Sebring International Raceway was built on a former airfield of the US Air Force and was opened on December 31, 1950.
The Porsche driver
The 911 RSR of the # 911 Porsche GT Team will also be driven in Sebring by Patrick Pilet (France), Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France). Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium), Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Gianmaria Bruni (Italy) take turns in the 912 cockpit. Two customer teams compete in the GTD class with the 911 GT3 R and works driver support: Wright Motorsports has Patrick Long (USA) and Porsche Young Professional Mathieu Jaminet (France), Robert Renauer (Manchehofen) and Christina Nielsen (Denmark) as the Porsche Selected Driver 2018 at the start. Park Place Motorsports relies on Jörg Bergmeister (Langenfeld) and his American teammates Patrick Lindsey and Timothy Pappas.
The Porsche vehicles
In addition to setup optimizations, the reliability of the 911 RSR was further improved for its second racing season. Depending on the size of the restrictor, the engine installed in front of the rear axle generates around 375 kW (510 hp). For aerodynamic efficiency and a high level of downforce provides the extra large rear diffuser in combination with the hanging tail wing. For the 911 GT3 R, Porsche is providing its customer teams with an evolution package in 2018. The more than 368 kW (500 hp) racing car was designed for the worldwide GT3 series based on the standard sports car 911 GT3 RS.
The Porsche successes
The successful series from Porsche at the Sebring International Raceway began in 1960 with the first victory of Hans Herrmann and Olivier Gendebien in the 718 RS / 60. In addition to 18 overall victories, the success statistics show 70 class victories. For the time being, last year’s Alex Job Racing with the 911 GT America succeeded in 2015. The year before Jörg Bergmeister, Michael Christensen and Patrick Long were successful with the 911 RSR. Since 1979, 28 GT class victories go to the account of Porsche, 15 times started a sports car from Zuffenhausen from the GT pole position. With this track record, Porsche is also in the record book of Sebring as with the unrivaled series of 13 overall victories in a row between 1976 and 1988.
The twelve-hour race will start on Saturday, March 17, at 10:40 local time (15:40 CET). It will be broadcast live outside the US on the Internet at www.imsa.com.
Votes before the race
Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Motorsport and GT Vehicles: “In Daytona we did not start the motorsport year 2018 with the hoped-for result. Even if it increases the pressure, we do well to stay calm. The season has just begun. We know where we need to improve, and we are working hard to achieve that. Despite everything, we also took a lot of positives from Daytona. At Sebring we are trying to achieve an even better performance and a result that meets our expectations. As the most successful manufacturer in the history of this unique race, we finally have a reputation to defend. We will do that with the best possible preparation and the usual commitment of the entire team. ”
Pascal Zurlinden, Overall Project Manager GT Factory Motorsport: “The second classic this season is a brutal challenge. The heat in Florida and the track with its many bumps demand everything from the drivers. Also, the requirements for the cars are as extreme as any other race in the IMSA SportsCar Championship. With our 911 RSR we have racked up as many test kilometers in Sebring as on hardly any other race track. This puts us in the best position to withstand the strong competition. ”
Sebastian Golz, Project Manager 911 GT3 R: “The Sebring International Raceway is one of the racetracks with the highest durability requirements for the material. The 911 GT3 R has excellent traction characteristics due to its rear engine concept. Above all, he can use this advantage when accelerating out of the tight hairpin curve to the start and finish. With the evolutionary package we developed for 2018, our customers should be able to fight for a podium with the 911 GT3 R. ”
Patrick Pilet (911 RSR # 911): “We almost always had a very good car for Sebring. I think our 911 RSR fits this time well for this legendary racetrack. This is a very intense race, in which you have to drive fully from the start. Tacting like Daytona will not get you there. I’ve never won at Sebring. I’d like to change that. ”
Nick Tandy (911 RSR # 911):” This twelve-hour race is an absolute highlight of the season. The track is very demanding. With all the bumps, it is a huge challenge not only for the drivers. The burden on the cars is also greater than in any other race. The reliability of our 911 RSR is definitely an advantage. ”
Frédéric Makowiecki (911 RSR # 911): “Sebring is my absolute favorite race in the USA. The many fans are familiar with motorsport and bring the spirit to the track that I love so much. The mood they are spreading is great. ”
Laurens Vanthoor (911 RSR # 912):” This is a very difficult race where you can only compete with an extremely reliable car. The Sebring International Raceway is a big challenge. The bumpy asphalt is brutal and shakes you like a jackhammer. But I was recently at the dentist. He assured me that my fillings will last. ”
Earl Bamber (911 RSR # 912): “Ever since our memorable 50-hour test with the 911 RSR, I know every curb in Sebring. I’m looking forward to this cool race with the many fans and its great atmosphere. After Daytona, of course, we are under increasing pressure, but we must not let us go crazy now. A top result in Sebring, and the not so convincing start of the season is quickly forgotten. ”
Gianmaria Bruni (911 RSR # 912):” For me Sebring is one of the most beautiful circuits in the US. And because of its nature also one of the most demanding. It puts extreme demands on drivers and cars. I’m looking forward to racing in Sebring for the first time with Porsche and the 911 RSR. ”
Patrick Long (911 GT3 R # 58): “Driving for hours in Sebring at the limit demands everything for you as a driver. That’s because of the heat, but especially on the track. That is really extreme. There is nothing like it. Winning this race in 2014 with the 911 RSR was one of the highlights of my career. ”
Mathieu Jaminet (911 GT3 R # 58):” I’m looking forward to racing in Sebring with the 911 GT3 R after Daytona. It will certainly be an interesting and important experience for me. ”
Jörg Bergmeister (911 GT3 R # 73): “The race at Sebring is only half as long as at Daytona – but twice as exhausting. The bumpy track gets really bad over time, and the car has to endure a lot, too. Nevertheless, everyone is looking forward to this challenge and to offering the enthusiastic fans a great race. ”
This is the IMSA SportsCar Championship
The IMSA SportsCar Championship is a sports car racing series that has been held in the US and Canada since 2014. It originated from the merger of the American Le Mans Series and the Grand-Am Series. Sports prototypes and sports cars start in three different classes: GTLM (GT Le Mans), GTD (GT Daytona) and P (Prototype). The Porsche 911 RSR drives in the class GTLM, the Porsche 911 GT3 R in the class GTD.