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Porsche extends IMSA points lead in Detroit street fight

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Porsche Penske Motorsport
The #6 Porsche Penske Motorsport car takes on the Detroit Grand Prix street circuit


Porsche Penske Motorsport extended its IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship points lead in the Detroit Grand Prix

After locking out the front row in qualifying, Mathieu Jaminet and Nick Tandy scored a second-place finish, while Dane Cameron and Felipe Nasr extended their championship lead for the Porsche Penske Motorsport team on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s first visit to the new Detroit street track.

Tandy extended a strong lead early on before a radio issue led to a crash that forced a drive-through penalty, but he emerged in fifth and then a timely caution while he was in the pits handing over to Jaminet allowed the #6 back into the lead.

Jaminet was overtaken with around 26 minutes left in the 1h45m contest and finished second, which still marked a second podium in a row after winning at Laguna Seca last time out. The #7 car had an equally up-and-down race as Cameron was overtaken by two cars at the start. Having jumped into the lead as Cameron handed over to Nasr, the car picked up a puncture and needed another pit stop - which pushed Nasr to the back of the GTP order. He made four overtakes in a single lap on a restart with 44 minutes to go and then got stuck in fourth, where he ultimately finished. It ends the #7's 100% run of podiums across the first four races of the season, but the crew still extended their championship lead as the season officially ticked past the halfway point. In the GTD Pro category - the only support class running with the prototypes this weekend - the #77 AO Racing crew delivered a second win in a row with the Porsche 911 GT3 R (992), despite splitter damage which caused extreme understeer for a large portion of the race.

Story of the race

Making its debut in the IMSA championship, the new 1.645-mile Detroit street circuit produces lap times in the 1m5s-1m10s range, creating a really close performance spread that was always going to cause a lot of drama on the tight and narrow track. Tandy had led flawlessly in the #6 963 for the first 19 laps and built a gap of almost five seconds, but he was about to be tested. His radio wasn’t working and Tandy was trying different things in the cockpit - team managing director Jonathan Diuguid had already had to reveal the team’s strategy while the radio was still working in case it broke completely, giving the rest of the grid an insight into the lead crew's plans. But there would be a bigger issue, as on lap 20, while preoccupied with trying to sort out the radio issues, Tandy locked up and made contact with the #35 GTD Pro Ferrari at Turn 1, earning a drive-through penalty. He emerged from the drive-through in fifth, only 4.6s off the lead thanks to the short pitlane in Detroit, although Cameron took over as the top Porsche Penske Motorsport entrant in third as the pitstops began to mix up strategy in the short race. Cameron had been swamped on the inside and outside at the start of the race and had fallen from second to fourth, but a phenomenal pitstop and driver change phase on lap 27 boosted Nasr - taking over the car in the pits - into the net lead. Drama soon hit, though. First, a perfectly-timed pitstop on lap 34 gave the #6 crew back the lead. Tandy had pitted just before a caution came out for the crashing #10 BMW GTP car, which meant everyone on track had to slow down and he was able to swap with Jaminet and get a full stop in. During the caution, Nasr felt a puncture and had to pit to go to the back of the pack.

But on the restart, while Jaminet was leading ahead, Nasr passed four cars in a single lap, including three at Turn 3, in one of the most incredible laps of the year. It lifted him up to fourth - before an almost immediate caution on the next lap halted proceedings again. Nasr pressured the #01 Cadillac on the subsequent restart but wasn’t able to pass on the narrow circuit, while up front with 26 minutes to go Jaminet was overtaken by the #10 Acura for the lead at Turn 3. Despite another late caution and another restart, neither driver was able to move forwards from there on, but it was a good day championship-wise, as the #7 leads by 68 points - up 18 from Laguna Seca last time out - while the #6 is now fourth, 86 points behind. “Everything went well, but during the safety car phases I found it really difficult keeping the front tyres up to temperature, that’s why the Acura could get past us," said Jaminet. "The competition is doing better, particularly when it comes to braking for tight turns. We can live with second place. "I must admit that I didn’t perform at my best today. I’ll do better next time.”


The ever-popular #77 911 GT3 R (992) - nicknamed Rexy with its dinosaur green livery - added a gold tooth to the front of the car in celebration of the team’s first class win at Laguna Seca last month, and can now add another one thanks to a second successive victory for Laurin Heinrich and Seb Priaulx. The polesitter’s car pitting before the race started boosted #77 into the podium places, and an earlier stop than those of the crew's rivals helped keep the gaps close in the top three. Just before the caution with 44 minutes to go, the #77 had edged ahead - and while the race was neutralised it was deemed the rightful leader. However, from the following restart Heinrich was battling understeer - which means the car refuses to turn as the driver wants it to - and had to deliver perfect stints to keep the opposition at bay. Luckily, Heinrich was just the right person for the job. The #77 leads the championship by 86 points past the season halfway point. “Two straight wins – fantastic!" said Heinrich. "The race was anything but easy. My team-mate Seb [Priaulx] created a great foundation, first in qualifying and again in his first stint. "Our pit stop was perfect and quick, and the first few laps on cool tyres went very well. "Our ‘Rexy’ sustained a bit of damage to the front and I had to change my driving style because the car kept wanting to slide straight ahead. "It worked and I’m delighted.”

Customer racing

It was a bad day for both customer racing Porsche 963s as both had crashes during the race. The #5 Proton Competition Mustang Sampling car, started by Bent Viscaal and taken over by Gianmaria Bruni, was fighting for sixth in the closing stages when contact with the #31 Cadillac spun the car into the wall at Turn 4, marking the end of its race and leaving it to be classified in 18th. The car had qualified seventh. "There were a lot of shunts and an unnecessary collision," said Viscaal. "Once again, we made significant progress this weekend. We’re constantly learning. We deserved fifth place at least, that would’ve been a fair result. At some point, we have to reap the rewards.” The #85 JDC-Miller MotorSports car started ninth and also had contact with the #31 car, this time at Turn 7, which blocked the track and caused a caution. Richard Westbrook - who had taken the car over from Tijmen van der Helm - had to come in for an extra pitstop but further cautions allowed him to fight back towards the back of the pack and at least get the chance to move forward. He eventually took the chequered flag in eighth. The 24 Hours of Le Mans is now approaching, and the four Porsche IMSA drivers will take on the milestone World Endurance Championship event in the third Porsche 963 entry, the #4 car, with Dane Cameron serving as reserve driver.

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