New racetrack, new challenge: After the street circuit at Long Beach, the IMSA SportsCar Championship will make its first appearance on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on 6 May to contest round four of the season. The Porsche GT Team fields two Porsche 911 RSR race cars in the strongly represented GTLM class on the storied 3.634-kilometre circuit in America’s Midwest. The Porsche customer team Wright Motorsports tackles the GTD class campaigning two Porsche 911 GT3 R.
The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with its 13 corners is one of the most beautiful and time-honoured racetracks in the United States. Opened in 1962, the demanding circuit lies north of Cincinnati, not far from Lexington in the US state of Ohio. The last time Porsche won on this track was back in 2011 with the 911 GT3 RSR driven by Wolf Henzler and Bryan Sellers in the American Le Mans Series.
The Porsche drivers
The winners of the Sebring 12-hour race, Patrick Pilet (France) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain), contest the GTLM class sharing the cockpit of the #911 Porsche 911 RSR. Laurens Vanthoor
(Belgium) and Earl Bamber (New Zealand) share driving duties in the second 911 RSR (#912) fielded by the Porsche GT Team. The GTD class, which was not contested at Long Beach, will be back on the grid at Mid-Ohio. Wright Motorsports tackles the race with two 911 GT3 R for the first time: The regular drivers Patrick Long (USA) and Christina Nielsen (Denmark), Porsche’s 2018 Selected Driver, share the #58 car, with Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Michael Schein (USA) contesting the remaining sprint races of the season in the #16 vehicle.
The Porsche vehicles
For the second race season, primarily the setup of the 911 RSR was optimised. Depending on the size of the restrictor, the motor, which is positioned in front of the rear axle, puts out around 375 kW (510 hp). The particularly large rear diffuser combined with a top-mounted rear wing provides strong downforce and aerodynamic efficiency. For 2018, Porsche provides its customer teams with an evo-kit for the 911 GT3 R. The ca. 368kW (500 hp) customer sport racer was designed for worldwide GT3 series.
The six-hour race takes off on Sunday, 6 May, at 13.05 hrs local time (19.05 hrs CEST) and runs over 2:40 hours. The race can be viewed live outside the USA on www.imsa.com.
Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Vice President Motorsport and GT Cars: “Sports car racing enjoys a great tradition at Mid-Ohio. We’re thrilled to have this demanding circuit back on the calendar after many years. It’s a valuable addition to the championship and a big challenge for drivers and teams. At the American Le Mans races, Porsche scored many successes at Mid-Ohio, not least thanks to the RS Spyder, which clinched a sensational maiden win there in 2006 against significantly more powerful LMP1 prototypes. With the 911 RSR, we now want to continue this success story. Our strong performance at Long Beach makes us confident that we’ll succeed.”
Pascal Zurlinden, Director GT Factory Motorsport: “A new track presents teams and drivers with new challenges. That’s why we tested the 911 RSR in Mid-Ohio before the race. The primary goal was to work out a baseline setup for this demanding racetrack and to trial different tyre specifications. With the insights we’ve gained, I’m confident that we’re well prepared for the race weekend. We’re looking forward to this new challenge.”
Sebastian Golz, Project Manager 911 GT3 R: “Mid-Ohio is a very demanding course when it comes to setting up the vehicle. “The Esses” area especially demands a very responsive setup to be able to quickly negotiate the direction changes of the five consecutive corners. With its compact wheelbase and agile handling, the 911 GT3 R will be able to demonstrate its strengths, particularly in these passages. The racetrack is not one of the fastest on the calendar, but it’s very popular with drivers as it allows many different racing lines.”
Patrick Pilet (911 RSR #911): “I’ve only ever driven in Mid-Ohio once and that was in 2008, so it’s quite a while ago. It’s a great track, especially for GT cars like the 911 RSR. After the race on the narrow city circuit of Long Beach, this classic racetrack is a new challenge that we’re all looking forward to.”
Nick Tandy (911 RSR #911): “I’ve never been to Mid-Ohio. I’ve watched some stock car races there on television and I’ve also tried to familiarise myself with it on a simulator. It’s been a long time since I’ve driven on a new racetrack so I’m really excited about this race. It’ll definitely be an interesting experience.”
Laurens Vanthoor (911 RSR #912): “It’s
always great for a race driver to get to know new circuits. On video, Mid-Ohio looks very interesting. It’s a classic racetrack with a huge tradition – something that pretty much only exists in the USA. After the Long Beach race we went straight there to do some testing. In practice we now have to substantiate the insights we gained there and turn them into the best possible race result.”
Earl Bamber (911 RSR #912): “Our performance at Long Beach was good, although we ultimately weren’t able to use our chance to win. Now I’m looking forward to Mid-Ohio. This is an interesting track, somewhat tight and twisty, which should suit our 911 RSR. The main thing for us is to improve our position in the championship with a good result before the Le Mans break.”
Patrick Long (911 GT3 R #58): “When looking for the best setup at Mid-Ohio you need a lot of experience. Overtaking isn’t easy on this classic racetrack with long straights and tight corners, so as well as a perfect setup, a good starting position is one of the keys to success.”
This is the IMSA SportsCar Championship
The IMSA SportsCar Championship, a sports car race series contested in the USA and Canada, was run in 2014 for the first time. The series was formed 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 runs in the GTLM class, with the Porsche 911 GT3 R contesting the GTD class.