DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – In case you were wondering, plaid is in style again.
Days after Pfaff Motorsports and its plaid Porsche claimed its first Sebring victory by winning the GT Daytona class at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts on March 20, the team was still buzzing from the historic feat.
The impetus for victory came from the disappointment of defeat. In January, the team endured a disappointing 12th-place finish in the Rolex 24 At Daytona despite showing speed.
“We had a really good car (at Daytona), but we all made some mistakes,” said Laurens Vanthoor, who teamed with Lars Kern and Zach Robichon for the Sebring win in the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R. “But we brought that same preparation here and had a race with zero mistakes.”
Perfection couldn’t have been more timely. The No. 9 car started at the back of the GTD field for the race after ABS problems hindered its qualifying attempt, but steadily moved forward during the 12-hour race.
Vanthoor drove the car into the lead with an hour left, then held onto the lead after a restart with 19 minutes remaining. That, naturally, led to a raucous celebration.
“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,” Robichon said. “But everybody just did a phenomenal job. The crew was like clockwork on the pit stops, and Lars and Larry didn’t put a wheel wrong – none of us did. “
The car’s plaid livery, introduced in 2019 as a comical nod to the team’s Canadian roots, has become one of the most noticeable and popular schemes in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship paddock. In just its second attempt at Sebring Int’l Raceway, the team had its first win at the 17-turn, 3.74-mile circuit.
“This win is very personal to me,” team owner Chris Pfaff said. “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.”
The key to this one? Execution. Everything that could go right did go right. In the end, plaid was back.
“Sometimes you have races that go textbook and almost perfectly according to plan,” Vanthoor said. “This was absolutely one of those races. It was a great execution by the entire team.”