After a great start for Porsche in the 2019 24 Hours of Daytona, heavy rain, 17 full course cautions and a collision forced the pole-sitting RSR back down the field to eventually be classified fifth overall. The sister car qualified fifth on the grid and enjoyed an eventful race. It was eventually classified third overall.
Porsche put great effort into Daytona, finishing the 911 and 912 machines in a great Brumos livery and piling drivers into the GT Daytona class in the new 911 GT3R. Nick Tandy took the pole in an RSR set up for dry running at top speed on the straights, and he and co-drivers Pilet and Fred Mako held the lead well into the night. When heavy rain moved in, the car was outpaced and started to struggle.
The sister car of Earl Bamber, new dad Laurens Vanthoor and Mathieu Jaminet lost four laps repairing a splitter mounting defect early on but made up places as the race progressed to finish fourth overall. A fuel stop penalty for the third placed GT40 of Richard Westbrook, Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon saw them demoted to fourth, putting Porsche up to third.
Westbrook and F1 retiree, Fernando Alonso, both described the conditions towards the end of the the race as “ridiculous”, with Westbrook describing the rain as the worst he had ever seen in racing. Alonso along with team mates Kamui Kobayashi, Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande eventually came home first overall, but Alonso had been calling for a safety car or a red flag while running in second, as cars drove with close to zero visibility at more than 200 mph.
“I called a lot of times when I was second, over the radio, that the safety car was necessary,” Alonso told Sportscar 365. “I think the last five or seven laps were not right for anyone on track. The visibility was nearly zero. We could not be flat out on the straights. The cars… were coming in sixth gear at 200 mph. There were parts of different cars at different points of the track because people were losing the bodywork here and there.”
“To achieve a podium result under such difficult conditions is a great effort,” said Steffen Höllwarth, Porsche IMSA Program Manager. “We led the field over long stretches, we coped impressively with a setback for the 912 car and we regained lost time. Now we’re looking ahead with optimism to the next race in Sebring. We are keen to repeat our victory there from last year.”
The 1000 miles of Sebring starts on March 13th at 1500hrs.