Porsche Team Prepares 911s To Race The 12 Hours of Sebring

In just two weeks, Porsche’s 911 RSRs will return to the track to contest the second round of the IMSA SportsCar Championship

byBradley Brownell| UPDATED Mar 2, 2017 12:30 PM
Porsche Team Prepares 911s To Race The 12 Hours of Sebring

The 12 Hours of Sebring is coming up in just a couple of weeks, and Porsche is preparing to run their new-for-2017 mid-engine 911 RSR competitor in IMSA's GTLM category. Having come off a successful debut at the 24 hours of Daytona back in January, the team will tackle round two of the series with renewed vigor. Porsche has 18 overall victories and 70 class wins at the famed 12-hour race. In fact, Porsche is the most successful manufacturer to ever run at Sebring, so they certainly know how to build a car to contend with the rough conditions the track presents. 

Porsche's GTLM-classed cars will be run by six factory-backed works effort drivers, the same phenomenal lineups that contested for them at Daytona. Sharing the cockpit of the #911 vehicle are Patrick Pilet, Dirk Werner, and Frédéric Makowiecki. This trio of drivers kicked off the season with a great second placed finish at Daytona. In the #912 car are Laurens Vanthoor, Kévin Estre, and Richard Lietz. Their Daytona was less successful, but they're aiming for redemption in this upcoming round. 

Porsche's first Sebring win came in 1960 with Hans Herrmann and Olivier Gendebien at the wheel of a 718 RS/60. Their most recent overall victory was nearly a decade ago in 2008, clinched by Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Emmanuel Collard driving a Penske-entered Porsche RS Spyder LMP2. It would take an absolute miracle for Porsche to take the overall victory this year, but a class win is certainly a possibility. Porsche’s had a massive 70 class wins at this race. Porsche's most recent success was a GTD class victory in 2015 with a Porsche 911 GT America fielded by the Alex Job Racing team. The factory-entered team last won their class in 2014 with Jörg Bergmeister, Michael Christensen and Patrick Long taking the GTLM victory at the wheel of a Porsche 911 RSR. 

The 12 Hours of Sebring will begin on Saturday, March 18th, at 10:40 AM local time. 

Here's what the team has to say about the upcoming race: 

Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport: 

Our new 911 RSR celebrated a successful race debut at the season-opening round in Daytona. From this we gained a great deal of important insights that we now want to turn into an even better performance against very strong opposition. This alone will not be easy because this airfield course is a very special race track that puts huge demands of drivers and cars. However, as the most successful manufacturer in the history of the classic race, we have a reputation to uphold. With our customer teams, who started the season at Daytona with a GTD-class win, we’ll do our very best to achieve this.”

Marco Ujhasi, Overall Project Leader GT Works Motorsport: 

After Daytona, Sebring is the second classic of the season. This race is a brutal challenge. It’s only half as long as Daytona, but much harder because of the heat and the incredibly bumpy track. We’ve completed many test kilometres in Sebring with our new 911 RSR and line up on the grid very well prepared. And the prospects look good for a gripping fight for victory, particularly in the GTLM class."

Sebastian Golz, Project Manager GT Customer Sport:

The 911 GT3 R’s win at Daytona was a perfect start into the season for our customer teams. In contrast to Daytona, the primary focus in Sebring is not so much on top speed, but on brake wear. The balance between brake wear and brake performance plays a major role, because one extra pit stop to change the brakes costs precious time and this could make the difference between victory and defeat.

Patrick Pilet, Driver, 911 RSR #911: 

Sebring is a very intense race. Unlike Daytona, where you have to keep something in reserve over first two-thirds of the race in order to have a strong car for the final hours, in Sebring you pull out all stops right from the start. It’s one of the big races in the USA that I haven’t yet won. So the motivation to win is huge, particularly as I’m convinced that the circuit is very well suited to our 911 RSR.”

Dirk Werner, Driver, 911 RSR #911:

I like this demanding track. With all the bumps it’s not only the drivers who face a huge challenge. The stresses on the cars are greater than at almost any other race. I’ve never won at Sebring so in that regard I still have a score to settle.

Frédéric Makowiecki, Driver, 911 RSR #911: 

Sebring is very special and alongside Le Mans it’s my favourite race. The masses of fans know their stuff when it comes to motorsport and they display the sort of spirit that I very much like. I’m looking forward to enjoying a huge motorsport party and I hope that we have reason to celebrate when it’s all over.” 

Laurens Vanthoor, Driver, 911 RSR #912: 

I only know this race from television and from the stories my team mates have shared. It has a great history and I’m looking forward to being a part of that. I got to know the course during our testing here. It was an impressive experience. 

Kévin Estre, Driver, 911 RSR #912: 

Sebring is a really cool race with masses of spectators and a great atmosphere. They celebrate St. Patrick’s Day big time here so everyone’s already in a great party mood. We’ve done some extensive testing in Sebring and the car feels very good.” 

Richard Lietz, Driver, 911 RSR #912: 

Sebring is one of my favourite tracks. It’s very challenging and the many bumps make it extremely difficult for drivers to clock consistently fast lap times. The tests with the 911 RSR there were very encouraging. I think Sebring is a very good race track for our new car.

Michael Christensen, 911 GT3 R #28: 

Sebring is a real classic. Winning this race in 2014 was one of the highlights of my career. Driving at the limit on this bumpy track for hours on end is very demanding on drivers. But it’s also great fun. And after our success at Daytona the team is, of course, feeling very motivated.

Jörg Bergmeister, Driver, 911 GT3 R #73: 

To have any chance on this track you have to drive flat-out right from the start. Sebring is completely different from Daytona. The race is just half the duration, but twice as difficult. And the fans are great too. The mood that they create is better than at virtually any other race.