The 24 Hours of Daytona is the first highlight of the 2018 motorsport year. Porsche has expanded its global commitment to GT racing this season, and has made organisational changes to allow this. Pascal Zurlinden takes over from Marco Ujhasi as the new Director GT Factory Motorsports. His predecessor will work closely with Porsche Digital GmbH in the future in his role as Project Manager Digitisation Motorsport. Sebastian Golz takes over project management of the 911 GT3 R, including works-assisted outings in the Intercontinental GT Challenge, Blancpain Endurance Series, and the Nürburgring 24 Hours.
“I would like to thank Marco Ujhasi for the extremely successful work he did on developing the 911 RSR works team,” said Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Vice President Motorsport and GT Cars. “This success was crowned with victories at the 24-hour races in Daytona and Le Mans, as well as title wins in the WEC and IMSA – not forgetting Porsche’s first overall victory at the Petit Le Mans. I wish him all the best and every success for his new digital challenge.”
Daytona is the heart of US motorsport. Together with Le Mans, the 24-hour race is one of the most famous endurance races in the world. 50 cars, with drivers from a wide range of global racing series, will line up at the 5.729-kilometre Daytona International Speedway – an ultra-modern motorsport arena with two steep, fast bends and a tight infield.
Driving duties in the 911 RSR with the start number 911 will be shared by Patrick Pilet (France), Le Mans winner Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France). Two-time Le Mans winner Earl Bamber (New Zealand), Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and Gianmaria Bruni (Italy) will alternate at the wheel of the Porsche GT Team’s number 912 car. Porsche will also provide a number of drivers to support customer teams, as they take on the challenge of Daytona armed with the 911 GT3 R. Patrick Long (USA), Young Professional Mathieu Jaminet (France) and Christina Nielsen (Denmark), the “Porsche Selected Driver 2018”, will drive for Wright Motorsports (#58). Sven Müller (Germany) and Young Professional Matteo Cairoli (Italy) will be in action for Manthey-Racing (#59). Jörg Bergmeister (Germany) is one of the regular drivers for Park Place Motorsports (#73) again this season.
The 911 RSR
The 911 RSR made its successful race debut in Daytona in 2017. As well as set-up optimisations, the reliability of the car has been improved again for 2018. The rear-mounted engine generates about 375 kW (510 hp), depending on the size of the restrictor. The particularly large rear diffusor, in combination with the rear wing with “swan neck” mounts, creates greater aerodynamic efficiency and improved downforce. The 911 GT3 R won the GTD class in Daytona in 2017. Porsche used the 911 GT3 RS production sports car as the basis for the powerful customer sports car, which generates over 368 kW (500 hp) and is intended for use in global GT3 series. An evolution package is available to teams this season.
No other manufacturer has enjoyed as much success in Daytona as Porsche. As well as 22 overall victories, Porsche also has a record 77 class wins to its name. The latest of these came in 2017, when Michael Christensen (Denmark) won the GTD class in the 911 GT3 R. With five overall victories (1973, 1975, 1977, 1979 and 1991) and a class win in 1972 to his name, US racing legend Hurley Haywood is the most successful Porsche driver in Daytona.