OAK TREE GRAND PRIX AT VIR. PORSCHE MOTORSPORTS PRE-EVENT NOTES
August 20, 2014 by Porsche
While the Porsche 919 Hybrid competes for overall victories at Le Mans and in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the likelihood of a GT Le Mans (GTLM) class entry of winning against the Prototype (P) class in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship is slim. However, for the first time this year, and in recent memory, the Porsche 911 RSR will have a chance at the overall race win when the Oak Tree Grand Prix at VIR takes place on Sunday, August 24. The two-hour and 45-minute event marks the first time that only GTLM and GT Daytona (GTD) cars will be entered in a race. Therefore, the factory team-laden GTLM class will be the fastest in the race and should take overall honors. A win would give Porsche it's first overall victory in the highest form of North America sportscar racing since the Porsche RS Spyder won the American Le Mans Series' event overall at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park – then Mosport International Raceway – in 2010.
The pair of Porsche North America works Porsche 911 RSRs – the No. 911 shared by Richard Lietz (Austria) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and No. 912 campaigned by Michael Christensen (Denmark) and Patrick Long (Playa del Rey, California) – as well as the customer-raced No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR of Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Bryan Sellers (Braselton, Georgia) are the top Porsche contenders for the race victory in Virginia.
Give and Take. It is not all one-sided on track for GTLM and GTD Classes
In most TUDOR United SportsCar Championship races, there are four classes which make-up the competition: the Prototype (P), Prototype Challenge (PC), GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD) classes. Each category is crafted with difference in mechanical and aerodynamic philosophy to distinguish them from the other. The idea is that, on track, each will have to race with every other category but top speed, cornering, braking, even fuel mileage will separate them into classes. But, those with a sharp eye will recognize that, at times, those variations do not divide the classes significantly.
With only the GTLM and GTD cars on track for two-hours and 45-minutes at Virginia International Raceway (VIR), the dividing line between classes is even smaller. Perhaps surprising to some, the GTD class cars, such as the Porsche 911 GT America, can be faster in a straight line than the larger GTLM class cars like the Porsche 911 RSR. This is largely due to aerodynamics where the more production based GTD cars are narrower and carry smaller wings minimizing drag on the straights but downforce in the corners. With nearly the same horsepower and the GTD cars cutting a smaller 'hole' in the air, the result is often the two categories running neck-and-neck, at times with the GTD car holding the edge, at the end of VIR's multiple long straights.
When asked, GTD class drivers like Patrick Lindsey (Santa Barbara, California) in the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT America, admit that they will have to give way to the GTLM cars for 'self preservation' to avoid issues entering the corners. Once clear, the GTLM car will brake and corner better than the GTD car, creating the needed separation to avoid incident. As Lindsey points out, the issue of managing traffic is made easier when the GTLM cars aren't all racing in a group. Therefore, long green flag runs will help minimize conflicts between the two classes.
What's the Difference? A Comparison of Racing Porsche 911s.
For 2014, Porsche is racing four versions of its 911 racecars in North America. While they are all based on the Porsche 911 street car, and they are all running in race series that have GT classes, the cars are very different. Each series in which the cars compete has a different set of rules that must be met. Below is a short description of each car, along with some specifications to show the differences. Complete specifications for these cars, plus the Porsche 919 Hybrid Le Mans Prototype racer are available to journalists on the Porsche Cars North America motorsports media kit and at:
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Porsche 911 RSR
The 911 RSR, which contests the Sports Car World Endurance Championship (WEC) – including the 24 Hours of Le Mans – as well as the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) class in the USA and Canada, follows in the footsteps of its successful predecessor, the 911 GT3 RSR. It is based on the seventh generation of the iconic 911 sports car. As with the production vehicle, the wheelbase grew by approximately ten centimeters. A wishbone front suspension replaces the previously used McPherson struts. Another new development from Porsche Motorsport is the particularly lightweight racing gearbox. As previously, the six gears are selected via paddles on the steering wheel. The 470 hp (with ACO restriction), 4.0-liter six-cylinder boxer engine was taken from the car's predecessor and extensively optimized.
Porsche 911 GT America
The Porsche 911 GT America was built specifically for racing in the GT Daytona (GTD) class (GTD) for the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The vehicle is an enhanced version of the new Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, the most successful, and – with more than 2,600 units built since 1998 – the most widely manufactured racecar in the world. The 911 GT America features a flat-six 4.0-liter racing engine in the rear which produces 470 hp (350 kW) at 7,750 rpm, and utilizes a six-speed sequential gearbox with pneumatic paddle shift system and electronic throttle. As with the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup and 911 RSR, drivers are safeguarded by a redesigned safety cage and race seat, specially molded around the head and shoulders. A rescue hatch in the roof provides easy access for primary medical attention and for the extrication of the driver. As with the road-legal car, the body of the new 911 GT America combines highest rigidity with low weight thanks to its smart aluminum-steel composite construction. The 911 GT America weighs around 2640 pounds per current IMSA regulations. As in the case of the 911 GT3 Cup, the suspension features higher precision and more stability at high speeds. With the wheelbase extended to 2,458 millimeters, the handling of the 911 GT America at the limit has also improved. The race braking system, newly developed for the latest version of the GT3 Cup, improves the excellent endurance qualities of the 911 GT America.
Porsche 911 GT3 R
While this particular model of the 911 GT3 R was launched in 2010 for the worldwide FIA GT3 categories, it is running in North America for the first time in 2014. Three cars are racing in the Pirelli World Challenge. Based on the sixth generation of the Porsche 911 GT3 RS street car (type 997), the 911 GT3 has flared fenders front and rear. The aerodynamics improves downforce for higher cornering speeds and later braking points, while the wider track provides additional traction. The highly efficient four-liter six-cylinder flat engine has an output of approximately 500 hp (368 kW). The Porsche six-speed sequential dog-type gearbox with pneumatic shift system is operated via shift paddles on the steering wheel.
Porsche 911 GT3 Cup
The Porsche 911 GT3 Cup is the racing version of the Porsche 911 GT3 street car. After celebrating a successful debut in the 2013 Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, the production-based racecar, based on the seventh generation of the 911, also runs in the worldwide Porsche Carrera Cups and Challenge Cups, included the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama (USA), and the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge by Michelin (Canada). Powering the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup is a 3.8-litre, six-cylinder boxer engine. Thanks to the weight-optimized modular race exhaust system, the vehicle generates 460 hp (338 KW) at 7,500 revs per minute. Power is delivered to the rear axle via a race clutch and a Porsche Motorsport designed six-speed dog-type gearbox with a mechanical limited slip differential. For the first time in a Porsche makes Cup racecar, gear shifting is performed with paddle shifts on the steering wheel.
Porsche Point of View.
Jens Walther, President/CEO, Porsche Motorsport North America
'This weekend will be a two-prong approach by Porsche Motorsport. We have the Tudor Championship competing at Virginia International Raceway with the Porsche North America works effort, the Team Falken Tire customer 911 RSR and nearly a dozen Porsche 911 GT Americas. Simultaneously, we have the Pirelli World Challenge racing in Sonoma with EFFORT Racing's two Porsche 911 GT3 R and GTSport's Porsche Cayman S.
Logistically, it is always challenging to have two major series racing on opposite sides of the country. However, we have many years of experience and we have been able to create the processes to maximize our effectiveness at both locations. We trust that our customers and fans will not recognize any difference in either our commitment or execution of service and performance on either coast.'
Richard Lietz, Driver, No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR – Tudor United SportsCar Championship, GTLM Class
'This will be my first time to race at VIR. I know from videos that it is a very fast track in a very green area. I have heard the tarmac is new so I expect a smooth track with not too many bumps. But, I've also heard that you have to run the
curbs really hard, so again, it's a compromise with the dampers. It looks quite difficult to learn to be honest. I've been playing iRacing to learn the track. Road America was new for me also and I have to so it was a very good preparation to go to a track for the first time. I also look at videos and have a good track walk with experienced drivers like Pat Long. And, you have to ask as many questions as possible. At Road America, we worked a lot to get a good balance with our new aero kit. For the race, we got it right and all drivers felt happy with the car and pushed hard all race long. With the Adjustment of Performance (AoP), we lost top speed but gained grip in the corners. It's a compromise but now we can make that compromise because we have some aero to play with.'
Jan Heyen, Driver, No. 58 Snow Racing Porsche 911 GT America – Tudor United SportsCar Championship, GTD Class
'For Dempsey Racing and Snow Racing, the third-place finish at Road America was long overdue. We've been in a good position for the podium all year, but only have two to show for it. We'll take it, but I'm not satisfied because of all the ones we missed. More than anything, I'm happy for our car owner Martin Snow. He stuck with us throughout our bad luck, and it was good to come back with a good result. The whole team is great to work with, and the joint effort has been good for everyone. It wasn't easy – that last lap at Road America – but the battle with the Viper was a lot of fun. As it's the last lap, you do whatever you can to hang on. That Viper was in a class of its own, and was faster than any car on track. To be able to keep him behind us was good and made for a good battle.'
Porsche History. Virginia International Raceway
In 1955, a group of North Carolina sports car enthusiasts began searching for a suitable race track location. They found the perfect site just across the state line from Milton, North Carolina on 1200 acres of rolling farmland in Alton, Virginia. The VIR facility was paved and opened in 1957. The early days held primarily SCCA amateur races until IMSA visited in the 1970s. In spite of some excellent events, the facility was unable to draw the necessary revenue and closed in 1974. VIR reopened in 2000 with professional racing including first the Rolex GRAND-AM and then American Le Mans Series. The current track follows the centerline and elevation of the old track but has been widened and renovated several times since, including prior to this racing season.
1957 – Bob Holbert – Porsche 550 RS – Washington Region SCCA Inaugural Grand Prix Sports Car Races – first-ever race at VIR – F-Modified winner
1958 – Dan Sessler – Porsche 550 RS – SCCA National – F-Modified winner
1959 – Bruce Jennings – Porsche 356 Carrera GT – SCCA National – F-Production winner (Briggs Cunningham was fourth in an Osca 750)
1960 – Bob Holbert – Porsche 718 RSK – SCCA National – E Modified winner (Roger Penske was fourth in a similar Porsche)
1961 – Bob Holbert – Porsche RS 61 – SCCA National – E-Modified winner
1962 – Bob Holbert – Porsche RS 62 – SCCA National – E-Modified winner
1966 – Bruce Jennings – Porsche 356 Carrera – SCCA National – C Production winner
1968 – Pat Mernone – Porsche 911 – SCCA National – B-Sedan winner
1971 – Peter Gregg/Hurley Haywood – Porsche 914/6 – IMSA GT – GTU and overall race winner
1972 – Peter Gregg/Hurley Haywood – Porsche 911s – Camel GTU winner
2004 – Randy Pobst/Mike Levitas – Porsche 911 GT3 Cup – Rolex Grand-Am GT winner
2006 – Patrick Long/Mike Rockenfeller – Crawford DP03 Porsche – Rolex Grand-Am Daytona Prototype and overall race winner
2007 – Bryce Miller/Dirk Werner – Porsche 911 GT3 Cup – Rolex Grand-Am GT winner
2010 – Andy Lally/Ted Ballou – Porsche 911 GT3 Cup – Rolex Grand-Am GT winner
2011 – J.C. France/Joao Barbosa/Terry Borcheller – Riley MkX1 Porsche – Rolex Grand-Am Daytona Prototype and overall race winner