IMSA Performance Matmut and their Porsche on the way to America
Nicolas Armindo, Raymond Narac, Anthony Pons and the IMSA Performance Matmut team will cross the Atlantic in a month's time with the title of 2012 ELMS champions in sight. The team's Porsche, carrying the colours of Matmut and Adria, is already on its way to the Road Atlanta circuit ahead of the unique opportunity to take part in Petit Le Mans.
On October 20 IMSA Performance Matmut will compete at the Petit Le Mans race in the United States. The 1000-mile event was founded in 1999 by Don Panoz and is the third major endurance race in North America after the 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring. Unexpectedly the race at the Road Atlanta circuit in Georgia will now close the 2012 European Le Mans Series season.
Nicolas Armindo, Raymond Narac and Anthony Pons who will drive the Matmut and Adria liveried #67 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR currently lead the ELMS' LMGTE Am class and are aiming to give the French squad its second consecutive title in the category. With the race due to last for either 1000 miles or ten hours, double points will be up for grabs. The trio will also need to defeat the Ferrari of title rivals AF Corse as they did at Donington Park in July.
This time the ELMS competitors will be racing in the heart of the ALMS pack. Added to the ELMS calendar following the cancellation of the Brno and Portimao rounds, participation at Petit Le Mans has significantly disrupted the team's initial plans but also offers an interesting and motivating challenge to go up against the very professional and competitive American teams. With its own qualities IMSA intends to shine in the land of the Stars and Stripes rather than just make up the numbers. This is a challenge within reach of Franck Rava and Raymond Narac's team. Earlier this season, IMSA Performance Matmut confirmed its potential on the international stage by winning the 6 Hours of Spa and finishing on the second step of the podium at the Le Mans 24 Hours.
It is in this context that the team members carefully packaged the #67 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR and its equipment into the container provided for travelling to the United States by cargo ship. The 15 team members will reclaim the car in the paddock at Road Atlanta on Monday 15 October.
Raymond Narac (Co-owner of IMSA Performance Matmut and driver of the #67 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR): "Despite the change of schedule this race is a gift for me as it will be the first time I set foot in the United States. Personally, it will be a new track and all the more interesting as it has a reputation for being challenging. I'm glad to be going and it will be a big first for the team as well. I have been thinking about it for quite some time and we've also been tempted by the 24 Hours of Daytona for a while. Returning to the subject of Petit Le Mans, the team is working hard to ensure that everything goes well and I hope to do as well as at Spa in the FIA WEC where we surprised everyone. Traffic management will be one of the keys to the race as there are often many safety cars."
I've always wanted to race in the United States and compete at Petit Le Mans.
Anthony Pons (Driver of the #67 IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche 911 GT3 RSR): "My feelings are very mixed. The cancellation of the planned rounds is a real shame for me as this is my first season at this level. At Le Castellet, Spa and Le Mans I had huge pressure due to my inexperience, which meant that I was focused on not making a mistake and spoiling my team-mates' performances. In situations like those the pleasure of driving gives way to constant concentration, which can be quite tiring. At Donington, where the race was even more competitive than at Spa, I felt freer, could really enjoy myself and have a great race. Suffice to say that I was looking forward to the events in Brno and Portimao. In that respect, driving at Petit Le Mans will deprive me of track time and put some pressure on my shoulders, as the Ferrari is still a threat because the points count for double. Participation at Petit Le Mans comes a bit early for me to approach it calmly. Despite this, I can't wait to be there because I haven't got behind the wheel of the Porsche since Donington, it's far away, and the circuit and the atmosphere have a good reputation."
Nicolas Armindo (Driver of the #67 IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche 911 GT3 RSR): "I am very happy with this season because we have had great races; our podium at Le Mans was hard-earned and we showed potential. Raymond certainly drove a lot there, while Anthony did a little less, but we have enough free practice at Road Atlanta for him to master the circuit, although we all need to learn. We aren't going all that way just to break the car on the first lap so we need to be cautious and ensure we win the title. A good result on top of that would be really nice. I have confidence in the ability of Anthony to adapt and our team of drivers has bonded well. I've always wanted to race in the United States and compete at Petit Le Mans. I will also try to show my potential over there by having a great race."
Felix Barré (Engineer in charge of the ELMS programme): "Preparing the logistics of Petit Le Mans has begun with the departure of the car and the equipment in the container to the port of Le Havre. We will get it back on 15 October at the circuit. The car has been prepared and is ready to race. With additional insurance to manage and supplies to plan it's a new level of preparation for us even if we experienced this kind of operation, but to a lesser extent, in our participation in the 24 Hours of Dubai. There hasn't been much time to get organised. There is still regulatory information that needs to be clarified by the organisers for the arrival of cars from the LMGTE Am category into the ALMS. Everything will be in place by the race. Arnaud will manage the American adventure of the 911 GT3 RSR 2011. The car will return to France around November 20, which means our equipment for the RSR is unavailable for a very long time. Suddenly, managing the GT Open and VdeV campaigns side-by-side is not so straightforward."
Arnaud Soudey (Designated operations engineer for Petit Le Mans): "We are fairly calm about the result, which is very important for the invitation to Le Mans in 2013 that we will try to get by going over there. The issue of securing the title is important and finally to experience a race in the United States with different methods to what we know in Europe, especially race strategy as part of the experience that we want to acquire. With the quality of our crew we still go there with the goal of a good result. When we are there an American team will help us with logistics."
Source: IMSA Performance Matmut