IMSA SportsCar Championship, Round 2, Sebring ... the Wright Motorsports Porsche starts from the first row ... BMW Team RLL from third and fourth


 

Sebring, 20th March, 2021

The Porsche customer team Wright Motorsports has scored an excellent starting position in the qualifying for the 12-hour race at Sebring. Jan Heylen planted his No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3 R on the second grid spot in the GTD class. For tomorrow’s race, he shares the cockpit of the 500+hp GT3 vehicle from Weissach with the American works driver Patrick Long and his compatriot Trent Hindman. In 2020, the team from the US state of Ohio clinched a class victory at the same venue. In the GTLM class, Cooper MacNeil from America secured the fifth grid spot with the Porsche 911 RSR fielded by the WeatherTech Racing squad. The experienced amateur racer shares the number 79 vehicle with works drivers Matt Campbell from Australia and Mathieu Jaminet from France.



The GTD qualifying, in which amateurs and professionals share driving duties in the cockpits, was held for the first time following a new, two-part procedure. In the first 15 minutes, the gentlemen drivers went for grid positions, with professional drivers hunting for points in the second session. In the faster GTLM category, the starting positions and points were determined in one session.

Pfaff Motorsports experienced bad luck in the first part of the qualifying. During his first attempt at securing a top grid spot, the Canadian Zacharie Robichon made a braking error in Turn 10 and was unable to improve due to deteriorating tyres. Although the No. 9 car takes up the race from P13 in the GTD class, it still scored the most points of all Porsche customer teams in the second qualifying segment. Works driver Laurens Vanthoor posted the second quickest lap time and thus earned 32 precious points towards the championship. The two Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by the Hardpoint EBM squad take up the endurance race in Florida from positions ten and eleven.

The twelve-hour race at Sebring gets underway on Saturday, 20 March, at 10:10am local time (3:10pm CET). The entire race can be viewed live outside the USA and Canada on www.imsa.com. Live timing is available at scoring.imsa.com.

Qualifying quotes
Sebastian Golz (Project Manager Porsche 911 GT3 R): “Jan Heylen in Wright Motorsports car and our works driver Laurens Vanthoor at the wheel of Pfaff Motorsports’ vehicle put in outstanding drives. The pair made the most of the Porsche 911 GT3 R’s potential and achieved a great starting position as well as critical points. All in all, we’re heading into the race day feeling very optimistic. The preparations for the long-distance classic ran very cleanly and systematically during the practice sessions. We expect a strong performance from our customer cars.”

Jan Heylen (Porsche 911 GT3 R #16): “Second on the grid is good, but I’m still a little disappointed. I was at the top of the timesheet for a long time. Ultimately, I was just 0.067 seconds off pole position in our class – so close and yet so far. More would definitely have been possible but I didn’t get the chance during practice to get used to the fresh tyres. I lacked the experience. Still, that’s complaining at the highest level. Now we’re looking forward to the race.”

Cooper MacNeil (Porsche 911 RSR #79): “That was a clean qualifying for me. I found a nice gap out on the track and managed to turn my laps without any traffic. Our focus during the practice sessions was solely on preparing for the race. The speed over a flying lap doesn’t matter at all over twelve hours. We’re well prepared for the big race and tackle the Sebring classic with great confidence.”

Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 GT3 R #9): “My teammate Zach had brake problems twice during his qualifying laps. Before I went out in the second segment, we reset the car in the hope that everything would work again. And that was the case. I could really push the limit on my laps and score important points with second place. It doesn’t matter that we start the race from the back of the grid. In a race over twelve hours, the world looks completely different again.”


BMW Team RLL will start from the second row of the GTLM grid following third and fourth place qualifying efforts from Connor De Phillippi and Jesse Krohn this afternoon. De Phillippi qualified the No. 25 MOTUL BMW M8 GTE third with a time of 1:55.062 minutes around the Sebring International Raceway, 0.219 seconds ahead of Jesse Krohn’s 1:55.251-minute lap in the No. 24 MOTUL BMW M8 GTE. Both BMWs were within only 0.317 seconds of the pole-winning Corvette. De Phillippi will co-drive with Bruno Spengler and Philipp Eng tomorrow, while Krohn will share the No. 24 M8 with John Edwards and Augusto Farfus.

“I was remarking to our engineers that as I watched our cars from trackside, they looked very stable over the Sebring bumps,” commented Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “I believe that will pay dividends during a long, twelve hours tomorrow. Sure, we’d love to be on pole, but it’s all about tomorrow.”

The 2021 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will be the fourth for the BMW M8 GTE, with the 2020 season having been the most successful to-date. This season, BMW Team RLL is focusing exclusively on the four races that compose the Michelin Endurance Cup and began the season with a third-place finish at the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Bill Auberlen, the BMW race veteran and all-time IMSA win leader, Robby Foley and Australian Aidan Read will co-drive the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 in the GT Daytona class. In today’s two-part GTD qualifying session, Foley set the sixth fastest time to gain the sixth place starting position and Auberlen equaled Foley’s effort to gain sixth-place qualifying points.

The 69th Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Advance Auto Parts will take the green flag at 10:10 a.m. on Saturday, March 20th. Live race coverage begins at 10 a.m. on NBCSN, moves to the NBC Sports App at noon, before returning to NBCSN at 7 p.m. for the concluding hours. The entire telecast also streams on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. Follow us on Twitter @BMWUSARacing for news from the pit box and get live scoring and in-car camera views at IMSA.com.

Connor De Phillippi, driver No. 25 BMW M8 GTE (P3)
“P3 is the good result for a very good effort so far this week. Possibly we can find a bit of improvement when we look over the car this evening, but I’m confident we are ready to race.”

Jesse Krohn, driver No. 24 BMW M8 GTE (P4)
“The No. 24 M8 feels good. While we are a bit behind the Corvettes in qualifying, I believe we are in a good window for the race tomorrow.”

Result GTLM class
1. Garcia/Taylor/Catsburg (E/USA/NL), Corvette #3, 1:54.910 minutes
2. Milner/Tandy/Sims (USA/GB/GB), Corvette #4, 1:54.944 minutes
3. Eng/de Phillippi/Spengler (A/USA/CDN), BMW #25, 1:55.062 minutes
5. MacNeil/Campbell/Jaminet (USA/AUS/F), Porsche 911 RSR #79, 1:56.119 minutes

Result GTD class
1. Simpson/Perrera/Zimmermann (ZA/F/D), Lamborghini #19, 2:00.010 minutes
2. Long/Hindman/Heylen (USA/USA/B), Porsche 911 GT3 R #16, 2:00.077 minutes
3. Telitz/Hawksworth/Kirkwood (USA/GB/USA), Lexus #14, 2:00.504 minutes
10. Nielsen/Legge/Beatriz (DK/GB/BR), Porsche 911 GT3 R #88, 2:02.613 minutes
11. Ferriol/Bamber/Estep (USA/NZ/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R #99, 2:03.144 minutes
13. Robichon/Vanthoor/Kern (CDN/B/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R #9, 2:29.063 minutes