Braselton, Georgia, Oct 4 - A highly promising performance at Petit Le Mans ended prematurely tonight in the darkness enveloping the Road Atlanta circuit as the #18 VICI Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR suffered a tire failure that resulted in the car making contact with the tire barriers at the final turn, just as the race went into the ninth hour, and after 291 laps of tough racing.
The first half of the race had gone exactly according to the strategy that the team had decided upon, and the #18 car was positioned comfortably in the GT2 class top-10 as the shadows lengthened over the 2.54-mile, 12-turn permanent course at Braselton in Georgia. Marc Basseng, who finished on the podium here last year, and the Pastorelli brothers, Nicky and Francesco, who hadn't seen the track prior to Thursday morning, all lapped quickly and consistently to keep the car in with a shout of a respectable result.
The driver's reported that the car was handling well and the set-up was suiting the track, while and the technical staff were happy with progress. And while the Dutch pilots hadn't driven here before, VICI Racing also hasn't competed at 10-hour/1,000-mile Petit Le Mans so it was another exciting challenge for the team in its inaugural ALMS year, and one that everybody had been relishing.
The final hours of the race were interrupted however by an unexpected spare of tire failures that were outside the team's control, and resulted in each driver, at this point running double stints, having to make unscheduled pit visits to change tires. However on lap 291 just as the clock ticked past eight hours, and with Marc behind the wheel, a tire failure at Turn 12 pitched the experienced German sports car racer into the barriers, damaging the #18 car, and abruptly ending our participation in the proceedings of the 11th annual Petit Le Mans. Marc, fortunately, emerged unscathed.
It was a bitter blow for the Miami, Florida-based team after a long week of hard work, and leaves the crew with a damaged car to be repaired. For the record, the #18 car's fastest race lap was set by Marc on lap 290, in 1:21.838 (111.733 mph).
Roland Wall, Technical Director VICI Racing: "I'm very disappointed with what occurred this evening. The team had worked very hard all week to put us in the best possible position for the race, and we were showing an excellent pace. All the drivers performed very well, lapping consistently, with quick times and the RSR was nice on the track too. The crew were superb, very efficiently getting the engine and other parts changed last night and all the pitstops today were fast and without problem. The chance of a decent finish was lost by four tire failures which was an unacceptable event to occur. We now have to go away and a lot of hard questions have to be asked."