- Tandy and Nasr claim positions five and seven for Porsche Penske Motorsport
- Rain showers during the qualifying create difficult conditions
- The final round of the 2023 IMSA starts on Saturday at 11.40 am local time
The two Porsche 963 fielded by Porsche Penske Motorsport will tackle the "Petit Le Mans" from the midfield. Works drivers Nick Tandy from the UK and Felipe Nasr from Brazil qualified in positions five and seven for the grand season finale of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Stuttgart. The weather conditions added extra suspense to the already gripping competition in the top GTP category. Early in the 20-minute qualifying session, almost all teams opted for Michelin slicks, but more showers thwarted any chance to attempt fast lap times. While Nick Tandy initially waited in the pit lane at the wheel of the No. 6 Porsche 963 and went out for his first flying lap on rain tyres after around five minutes, fellow works driver Felipe Nasr had to return to the pits to change wheels after his first attempts on slicks.
The rain eased for a short time halfway through qualifying, which allowed the racing line to dry out. At this time, Nasr and Tandy briefly topped the timesheets however, under these conditions the soft compound tyres quickly deteriorated. With around five minutes left on the clock, both of the factory-run Porsche 963 came into the pits again for fresh rain tyres. However, in the final bid to set a top time, any decisive improvements proved impossible.
"At first it was dry, then wet, later the track dried again. These were difficult conditions," concludes Urs Kuratle. The Director Factory Racing LMDh adds: "I'm relaxed about the situation. Our drivers did a good job and we're starting from the midfield. The race on Saturday runs over ten hours. It's all about getting the car through the heavy slower traffic and over the whole race distance unscathed. The conditions are unlikely to improve on race day. We have to be in the front pack for the first eight hours. Then we'll attack at the end."
"Nick and Felipe did their job very well," explains Jonathan Diuguid, Managing Director Porsche Penske Motorsport. "I think we made the right calls on our tyre choice. Maybe we came in one lap too early for our last switch to fresh rain tyres. The cars that had only one more lap on those tyres managed to improve at the end – unfortunately, we didn't. Maybe we could've done a bit better. Nevertheless, our starting positions are okay. Our focus is on our performance in the ten-hour race anyway."
"Petit Le Mans", the final round of the 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Road Atlanta, gets underway on Saturday, 14 October at 11:40 am local time (5:40 pm CEST). Outside the USA and Canada, the 10-hour race can be viewed in a free live stream on imsa.tv.
Driver's comments on the qualifying
Nick Tandy (Porsche 963 #6): "That was hard work. Most of the cars started the qualifying on slicks. First, we looked at what was happening out there, then we went out onto the track on rain tyres. Our lap times were okay, but we came into the pits a bit too early to change to a fresh set. When the track was at its best shortly before the end, our rain tyre was already past its best. But, fifth on the inside of the third row of the grid isn't bad at all."
Felipe Nasr (Porsche 963 #7): "They were tricky conditions. In the end, we didn't get the result we were after. Just as I was about to go on the attack with the second set of rain tyres, a lot of other cars came out of the pit lane. Then, in the 'esses', I suddenly encountered three slow cars in front of me. Still, it was my best lap time. A lot can happen in a race, especially over ten hours. We have to drive clean laps and work our way up the order systematically."
1. Taylor/Albuquerque/Deletraz (USA/P/CH), Acura #10, 1:15.402 minutes
2. Bourdais/van der Zande/Dixon (F/NL/NZ), Cadillac #01, 1:15.632 minutes
3. Eng/Farfus/Wittmann (A/BR/D), BMW #24, 1:15.731 minutes
5. Tandy/Jaminet/Vanthoor (UK/F/B), Porsche 963 #6, 1:16.219 minutes
6. Campbell/Nasr/Newgarden (AUS/BR/USA), Porsche 963 #7, 1:16.860 minutes
9. Rockenfeller/van der Helm/Button (D/NL/UK), Porsche 963 #5, 1:18.204 minutes
10. Bruni/Tincknell/Jani (I/UK/CH), Porsche 963 #59, no lap time