A PERFORMANCE THAT REACHES BEYOND THE RACE TRACK
“From my childhood I have followed endurance racing, and of course the Twelve Hours of Sebring. This win is very personal to me – and the spirit of competition extends from this race to our teams’ professional and passionate work in all of our automotive businesses, especially our long and successful partnership with Porsche. Thank you to all of our teammates, partners, and fans for sharing in this victory.”
These words are from Team owner Chris Pfaff. Passionate is a word that defines Pfaff Motorsports. For as long as I have been involved in Motorsports, that’d be since the mid-80’s, the name Pfaff has always been present in one way or another in Canadian Motorsports. And to witness this team having enjoyed success in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship from its first season in 2019, is such a great achievement for everyone involved. And now, they just won the 12 Hours of Sebring, one of the iconic races in the world you want to win.
As we know, 2020 was what it was. Then when the Pfaff Motorsports team showed up at Daytona for the 2021 Roar and Rolex 24 it did not seem they had missed almost a full season of racing. Their level of preparation showed they were eagerly ready to compete with the best and to continue where they had started in 2019. Small mistakes were made during the Rolex 24, although they were not the only ones.
Come Sebring, a track the team had not been since 2019 and where Zach Robichon showed his driving skills in the wet conditions from the green flag, they knew they were slightly behind competitors as they had skipped the 2020 race. As team manager Steve Bortolotti mentioned, they came ready to take on the 12 hours.
“This weekend went according to plan, from start to finish. We knew coming into the race we would be starting behind our competitors because we haven’t raced here since March 2019, but our engineering staff had a great game plan, and our technicians prepared the car to perfection at the shop to withstand the abuse of 12 hours at Sebring – and kept it perfect throughout the weekend.”
“We made minor changes through practice, and got the car into the window quickly where we felt the car would be strongest at night. From there, the team executed a perfect race and I couldn’t be happier with the result.”
“The GT3 R was set up to be fast at night, so Lars and Zach, who did the majority of driving during the daytime, were absolutely incredible. They took care of the car, and both drove the best I’ve ever seen them perform. Once the sun was down and [Laurens] got in, we were blessed with watching one of the greatest drivers on the planet wheel the Pfaff-Motul Porsche to victory.”
“This team has persevered through so much since March of 2020 to get this program back on track in 2021, and that made this win feel that much sweeter. We would like to thank our amazing partners for sticking by us through all the turbulence of the last 12 months, and we look forward to an incredible IMSA season in 2021.”
Tremendous drive by the three drivers that are Zach Robichon, Laurens Vanthoor and Lars Kern. Having started from the 12th position, Robichon did not waste any time at the beginning of the race as, by lap six, he had gained six positions already. By the end of the third hour, the Motul sponsored Plaid Porsche 911 GT3 R was shown in third place.
Robichon and Kern took care of the driving for the most part of the daytime portion of the race. Nearing the halfway point, a prolonged yellow and strategic pit call saw Kern jump the “Plaid Porsche” up to second position, just tenths behind the Wright Motorsports 911 GT3 R; by lap 215 with four hours remaining, Robichon took the lead.
Having scored the fastest time in night practice, the team knew the Plaid Porsche would come alive as the night portion of the race came around. With four hours remaining, Robichon took the lead.
Several neutralizations took place in the last hours of the race. The team’s strategy and well executed pitstops from the crew proved to be what it took for Laurens Vanthoor to bring the car in first place at the checkered flag.
During the Twelve Hours of Sebring, as Zach Robichon pointed out, you never know what’s going to happen.
“We just won the race – it’s kind of unbelievable! We knew from the beginning we had a strong car, but in a 12-hour race you literally have no idea what’s going to happen. But everybody just did a phenomenal job. The crew was like clockwork on the pit stops, and Lars and Larry (Laurens) didn’t put a wheel wrong – none of us did. This was really a team effort and I couldn’t be happier for everyone at Pfaff.”
Veteran Porsche Factory driver, Laurens Vanthoor summed up the difference between Dayona and Sebring for Pfaff Motorsports.
“At Daytona, we had a really good car, but we all made some mistakes – but we brought that same preparation here and had a race with zero mistakes. Sometimes you have races that go textbook and almost perfectly according to plan – this was absolutely one of those races. It was a great execution by the entire team and Lars and Zach drove great. It’s an amazing achievement for everyone involved.”
Lars Kern described how big is a Twelve Hours of Sebring win.
“It’s unbelievable to win the 12 Hours of Sebring. This is one of the biggest sports car races in the world. The team deserves exactly that – they were working so hard last year and we didn’t race much. Everybody did a perfect job. We saved the best guy for the end, and Larry finished the job.”
For those living in the Toronto area, Pfaff Motorsports and Pfaff Porsche announced on their social media the car was on display at Pfaff Porsche in Vaughan for a short time and in the same condition as when they ended the race at Sebring. Be sure to stop by.
Once the car will be back at the shop, the team will prepare for their next outing which will be on May 14-16 for the first round of the Sprint Cup Championship at Mid-Ohio.
Images: Pfaff Motorsports / Lenssen Photo
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