Pilet Fastest For Porsche At VIR

Patrick Pilet put Porsche on top of the practice charts Friday at Virginia Int'l Raceway. (Sarah Weeks Photo)
Patrick Pilet put Porsche on top of the practice charts Friday at Virginia Int'l Raceway. (Sarah Weeks Photo)

ALTON, Va. – Patrick Pilet and his No. 911 Porsche GT Team 911 RSR co-driver, Nick Tandy, have fond memories at Virginia Int’l Raceway.

Back in 2015, the duo dominated the two-hour, 40-minute IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Michelin GT Challenge at VIR en route to victory. That win helped catapult Pilet to the GT Le Mans class championship at year’s end.

On Friday, Pilet returned to the top of the time charts at VIR, turning a best lap of one minute, 41.234 seconds (116.284 mph) around the 3.27-mile, 17-turn circuit. Pilet and Tandy head into Sunday’s race trailing their teammates, Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor in the No. 912 Porsche, by 14 points, 248-234, so a strong showing would be beneficial for their championship hopes.

“It’s a fun track,” Pilet said. “It’s always a pleasure to be here. I had a really hot moment, I have to say, in my long run in the exit of turn four when I spun. Unfortunately, I had to change the tires for a set we were going to use in the morning, which is a reason, also, why we finished ahead.

“But the car was good. It’s quite a tricky track, especially with all the series running. A lot of cars running outside of the track, a lot of dust, a lot of grass, it’s easy to make a mistake. You cannot make any mistake on this track, because you directly pick up a lot of grass and you have to stop to remove the grass during the race. So, yeah, you have to find the limit in practice. It looks pretty good. We love this track, we have good memories here, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow when it will be a bit cooler.”

In GT Daytona, the Lexus RC F GT3 has been strong at VIR the past couple of years. That was especially true last year when Kyle Marcelli and Dominik Baumann won the GT Daytona class in the Michelin GT Challenge after Jack Hawksworth put the team’s car on the pole position.

The car was strong again Friday in practice at VIR, as Hawksworth ended the day atop the GTD time charts. His best lap was a 1:43.783 (113.428 mph) in the No. 14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus that he is co-driving this weekend with Richard Heistand.

“It’s been a productive day here for us,” Hawksworth said. “The Lexus RC F always worked well here the past two years. A win with the car last year, which was fantastic. Both years, the performance was pretty strong, so we were quite optimistic, coming into the weekend. Today, we looked quite quick. I don’t know if we’re quite fast enough yet, but we’re in the ballpark. I’d say we’re closer than Road America, so I’m looking forward to the race.”