Momentum can mean everything in racing, and when you have it you don’t want to let it go. Such is the case for Porsche, who continued its dominant stretch in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) class this season with its third consecutive victory in the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio.
Points leaders Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor co-drove to their second consecutive win in the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR, defeating the No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R of Antonio Garcia and co-driver Jan Magnussen to the stripe by 2.340 seconds.
The Porsche duo also won one race ago on the streets of Long Beach, while the team’s No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR of Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet won at Sebring International Raceway in March.
“I think we need to keep pushing forward,” said Bamber. “We’ve found a good rhythm, especially on our car. We’ve got a new engineer this year, so every race we’ve been getting stronger and stronger as a crew. Last year was a tough year, so we had to bring a bit of tools to get ourselves into the game, and this year we’ve been executing well.”
With the win, Bamber and Vanthoor have opened up a seven-point lead in the championship standings, 126-119, over Garcia and Magnussen – the defending GTLM champions – and nine points on their teammates Tandy and Pilet.
Porsche’s hot start hasn’t just been on race day, either. The manufacturer entered the Mid-Ohio weekend with poles in all three races to date but fell one spot short in qualifying Saturday when Vanthoor qualified second.
Despite going winless so far in 2019, the No. 3 Corvette Racing team is lurking with the type of consistency that has made it a perennial GTLM stalwart with its third consecutive podium finish. The team led much of the middle part of the race before pitting from the lead with just over one hour remaining. During the sequence of pit stops, however, the No. 912 took advantage of less lap traffic to make up enough ground to inherit the lead, pacing the final 38 laps.
“From where we started to where we finished, today was a good result and good for the championship,” said Magnussen. “At the beginning for me, the balance wasn’t great and I had little grip. We made some adjustments for Antonio, and as the track built some rubber into it, things got somewhat better. So, we’re happy with P2. But we really need a win. I don’t know what we need to do, but we need a win.”
It was an impressive comeback for the No. 911 Porsche after the team was issued a drive-through penalty for jumping the start of the race. Pilet and Tandy ran flawlessly from that point forward, marching through the field despite the race not seeing a yellow flag until 34 minutes remaining.
On the final restart, Tandy slipped to fourth behind the No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M8 of Tom Blomqvist but was able to get back around the BMW to secure the podium position in the final few minutes. Blomqvist and his co-driver Connor De Phillippi finished fourth, while the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT of Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe finished fifth to make it four different manufacturers in the top-five.
The GTLM class now goes into its summer break with a number of its teams and drivers preparing for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The next Weather Tech Championship event with the GTLM class in it is the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen on the weekend of June 27-30.