Zero hard feelings toward Jaminet

9-pfaff-motorsports-porsche-91-1.jpg

Although the Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 looked the fastest car in class during the coolest track conditions on a unseasonably cold weekend in Daytona, FL, as the sun arose on Sunday morning, the Porsche 911 GT3Rs of IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debutant KCMG and Pfaff Motorsports gained the advantage.

With the GTD Pro class – which replaced GTLM for this year – comprising GT3 cars with Platinum- and Gold-rated professionals on board, the driver lineups in both the KCMG and Pfaff cars were populated with aces. Vanthoor was joined by Patrick Pilet, Dennis Olsen and Alex Imperatori, while Pfaff had Felipe Nasr and Matt Campbell to partner with Jaminet.

The class lead distilled to a duel between these two 911s, with the final two hours of action seeing the pair rarely running more than half a second apart and making frequent passes and re-passes.

The duel between Vanthoor and Jaminet was fraught, and there were rubs and nudges between the two cars, but having led the antepenultimate and penultimate laps, Vanthoor’s KCMG car lost out to the Pfaff machine on the run down to the International Horseshoe corner, with Jaminet just holding him off on the exit.

However, approaching the Le Mans Chicane (née Bus Stop) on the last lap, Vanthoor made one last attempt to pass his rival, despite Jaminet protecting the inside.

The move failed to come off and the blue KCMG car skated through the grass, and fell back onto the track sideways, also losing second place to the Risi Ferrari.

Vanthoor admitted afterward that he cried with frustration on his slowing-down lap, but handled the situation well and tweeted a message today.

“I guess everyone has seen the result of the 24 Hours of Daytona by now. Yes, I’m still absolutely gutted. I drove my heart out and tried everything I could but unfortunately it was not enough. The movie keeps on playing in my head but there is no rewind button.

“A victory was the one and only thing we wanted, anything else would have been defeat. That was our approach and the way I raced. Opportunities to win big races like these don’t come along very often, so when it does you have to put it all on the line.

“The battle I had with Mathieu was exceptional. I have absolutely zero hard feelings. We raced hard, very hard. But both with 100% passion. The only thing that gives me joy today is to read all the comments about [sic] race fans all over the world, celebrating our fight and describing it as one of the best ever.

“Congratulations Mathieu and the #9 car and crew, it was an honor.”

Ex-Porsche ace Lucas Luhr responded, saying it was “the best racing I saw in a long time”, while Dale Earnhardt Jr., who had been part of NBC’s commentary team, tweeted, “Thank you for the show. It was a hell of a drive by both of you.”

Sebastian Golz, Porsche’s project manager for the Porsche 911 GT3 R, was delighted with both the GTD Pro race, which saw KCMG and Pfaff between them lead 428 of the 711 laps, and the fact that Wright Motorsport’s Porsche scooped victory in the GTD pro-am class.

“Customer racing at a factory racing level – that’s what we witnessed today at Daytona,” said Golz. “That finale has left me speechless.

“We can only emphasize how difficult this race was and the high level of professionalism of the teams running all seven vehicles. Victory in the GTD class and first and second in the GTD Pro class! That’s no picnic in a race with 35 GT vehicles. It’s a well-deserved reward for the teams, the drivers and Porsche.”

The victorious Pfaff Porsche 911 GT3 R fights with the similar car of KCMG, with the GTD-winning Wright Motorsport 911 right behind.

Photo by: Porsche Motorsport

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