Main Menu

Porsche North America wins 2014 Rolex 24

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Daytona Beach. One of the two new Porsche 911 RSRs, entered by Porsche North America, started second and fifth in the 52nd Rolex 24 AtDaytona. The duo led the GT Le Mans class a good part of the night maintaining its advantage in a heated battle to the checkered flag to win the GT Le Mans class at the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona, the inaugural round of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The victory is the 911 RSR’s second consecutive 24-hour race victory. The car took one-two in its inaugural appearance last June in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

For Porsche, the most successful manufacturer in the history of the Rolex 24, it was the company’s 76th class-win to accompany the 22 overall wins at the historic event. The victory by Porsche North America in its debut as a factory program is the 40th class-win for a Porsche 911-based racecar in the 52nd running of the United State’s premier 24-hour race.

The No. 911 Porsche, driven by Nick Tandy (Great Britain), Richard Lietz (Austria) and Patrick Pilet (France), had a nearly flawless run, a tribute to the new partnership by Porsche Cars North America as owner, PorscheMotorsport and CORE autosport, the factory team’s preparation partner. The factory drivers all repeated this teamwork theme, along with the commitment they all made to keep the car out of trouble. For Lietz, it was his second 24-hour win in the car having been a part of the Le Mans winning effort. Pilet earned his first major endurance race today while it is the second consecutive North American endurance race win for Tandy. The Brit won the season ending Petit Le Mans in 2013.

“Our goals included keeping a conservative pace, preserve the brakes and make sure that drivers, crew and support members did not make any mistakes,” said Pilet who drove the final stint in the race. “We achieved those goals, and the result was a GTLM win. We all stayed away from that ‘big’ incident and avoided all contact, even though the traffic was heavy at times. After the restart for the last 15 minutes, I had to go away from our measured pace and push, but the car responded.”

“The car was still good in the last four hours and that is when we expected the race to be intense,” said Lietz. “This is the best season-start you can imagine. I have really good teammates. Nick and Patrick did an awesome job as did the crew. We are still a very young team, they worked together really well. We have one of the best pit stop crews you can have.

Tandy provided insight into the team’s approach, “We came into this race treating it as an old-fashioned endurance race. So many of the races we do are really now sprint races and you have to go flat out for the duration of the race to have a chance but we said this weekend we have to take care of the equipment, the tires, the engine and not make any mistakes. There were times when we knew we could just cruise around and pick off laps but there were also times we had to push really at maximum. It shows we had the best team overall for the full 24 hours. It is not always like this but when it is, it is a very happy day. It is good momentum, so coming off the backend of last year, we now have a super strong start to this year and this is where we need to go from. I hope this gives the entire Porsche North America team the confidence to build on this and go for the inaugural TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. That’s what we’re aiming for.

The No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR driven by Michael Christensen (Denmark), Patrick Long (Playa del Rey, Calif.) and Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) had its time in the lead of the GTLM class as well during the course of the event. However, an engine mechanical issue forced the car to the garage with six hours remaining in the race. The team finished ninth in class.

“The goal was to stay clean with both cars, run as a team and be there when the sun came up and we achieved that,” said Long, the only America factory driver for Porsche. “I am incredibly proud of this whole organization for coming together on such tight time constraints. That is what we will build from for the rest of the season.”

“It was a superlative weekend – beyond my greatest expectations,” reflected Owen Hayes, Director of Operations, Porsche Motorsport North America. “The keys to our success this weekend in GTLM included patience, attention to detail, great teamwork among a group that had just met each other earlier in the week, and the realization that a 24-hour race is won one hour at a time. “The coming together of three organizations – Porsche Motorsport,Porsche Cars North America and CORE autosport – could not have had a greater accelerator than a win at the Rolex 24.”

“For our Porsche 911 GT America customer teams,” continued Hayes. “Everything did not go perfectly for everyone, but I am so proud of the number of brand new cars that finished, and for Snow Racing Wright Motorsports to earn a second place in class was a big bonus.”  

Customer Porsche 911 GT America on the Podium in GTD

In the GT Daytona (GTD) class, the No. 58 Snow Racing Wright Motorsports effort driven by Madison Snow (Lehi, Utah), Jan Heylen (Tampa) and Marco Seefried (Germany) made the debut of the Porsche 911 GT America a successful one. The team finished only a tenth of a second off the bumper of the winning car in second – a fine result for a car which had never raced before.

Heylen, who drove both the opening and finishing stint in the car, praised both the team and the car for the squad’s success.

“We had our hiccups like everyone else during the race, but the drivers did not make mistakes and the crew did a great job keeping us on the track. The reliability of the Porsche 911 GT America out of the box turned out to be the final piece of the puzzle for our second place finish. I look forward to racing with Snow Racing Wright Motorsports for the rest of the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season,” said Heylen.

Other top Porsche finishers in GTD included the No. 22 Porsche 911 GT America of Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.), Leh Keen (Atlanta), Shane Lewis (Jupiter, Fla.) and Shane van Gisbergen (New Zealand), who finished eighth in their   WeatherTech Alex Job Racing Porsche. The No. 30 MOMO NGTPorsche of Henrique Cisneros (Venezuela), Kuba Giermaziak (Poland), Christina Nielsen (Denmark) and Nicki Thiim (Denmark), who finished ninth.

Porsche Daytona 24-Hour Facts
(updated 1/26/14 after completion of Rolex 24)

Overall Wins:  22 (first in 1968; most recent in 2009 and 2010)

- From 1977 to 1987, Porsche had compiled 11 consecutive overall wins

- Initial Overall Win: 1968

- Finished 1-2 overall in 12 Daytona 24-Hours

Class Wins:  76 (includes Daytona Continental races starting in 1962; 24 hr. races started in 1966; most recent GT Le Mans in 2014)

- GT Class Wins:  27

- SGS Class wins (class ran only in 2004):  1

- GX Class wins (class ran only in 2013): 1

Porsche 911 Wins:  40 Overall and Class Victories

- 20 Race Winning Streak (overall or class):  1966-1987

- GT class winner finishing second overall: 2001, 2004

- GTX Series Winner:  1978-1981

- GTP Series Winner:  1982-87, 1989,1991

Article and photos courtesy Porsche

No votes yet